ELA: Emergent Readers: Letter Sound Resources

Updated: Nov 29, 2019

Emergent readers (Levels A-C) are trying to match letter sounds to letters. They are developing an understanding of our phonics rules. In my experience, students go at their own pace with this.


As many of you know, I am a HUGE fan of Jan Richardson's Guided Reading. One of the last parts of her lesson is to do a Word Study. Jan's word study builds on three activities: picture study, making words and sound boxes. I wanted to share my experience with the picture study.


In The Next Step Forward in Guided Reading by Jan Richardson, she explains that picture study helps students to identify initial sounds and medial short vowels. You begin by gathering pictures of the same sound and picking two sounds to sort. Students go through the cards and say the picture to determine where the card should be placed.

This picture shows Jack sorting pictures by /p/ and /j/. The directions for the cards are:

1. Say the word in the picture.

2. Say the initial sound.

3. Say the letter that makes the sound. He pointed to the letter at the top.

4. Put the picture under the correct letter.


When you finish, you go down the row and say all the sounds together. This helps the student to repeat the sounds and check that the cards are in the correct place.



These beautiful cards are from Pioneer Valley. I first used some black and white paper resources, but love how these cards are organized. They come in a nice box with tabs. They are organized by initial sounds, medial vowel sounds and even some initial blends and digraphs. This has helped each of my emerging readers, because we can focus on such a wide variety of initial sounds. You can check out these cards by clicking on this link: https://pioneervalleybooks.com/products/word-study-box-set (By the way, I am not getting endorsed by any of these products. I honestly love them and use them with my students.)


If you aren't ready/able to purchase these beautiful cards, there are still a lot of amazing resources out there. Words Their Way (check out the book here) has a ton of printable word sorts for students to cut and sort. I actually use these for the Word Work center for my Emergent, Early, and Transitional readers, because they have so many great sorts. There are also several other Words Their Way books for different spellers. Just do a quick search, and you can find the other types.


We work on the strategy during Guided Reading, and then the students have some activities they do during the center. Each day is a different activity.

Day 1: Cut and sort the cards on your own. We sort them in Guided Reading and make sure they know what picture is represented. Students keep the cards in a baggy in their pencil box.

Day 2: Sort them again by sound and glue them into the Word Work section of their reading journals. (For more information on Reading Journals, click here.)

Day 3: Using magnetic letters, students pick 3 words from each column to try and spell. If using technology, I have students snap a picture and share it with me.

Day 4: In the reading journal, students pick 3 words from each column to try to spell. They write the word next to the picture sounding out as best as they can.

Day 5: During Guided Reading, I quiz them quickly and see what they remember.


A few other great resources I have used for FREE are linked below:

https://thisreadingmama.com/printable-phonics-activities/ This website has a ton of printable resources for FREE. There are some paid resources, but I have used a lot of these for Word Work.

https://www.themeasuredmom.com/beginning-sounds-activities/ This is also another great sight. Before I spent money on the cards above, I used these cards for my students. They are in color and have great pictures!




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