Recently I picked up a set of colorful foam magnets displaying a variety of objects beginning with every letter of the alphabet, and they are perfect for practice in initial sound matching.
This activity is so simple there literally is no prep time if you have the materials on hand. I pulled out our set of magnetic letters and asked William to first sort the upper from the lower case letters. He kept the upper case for himself and gave Corinne the lower case set. (A mistake, I later realized. Corinne is only familiar with some of her upper case letters and none of the lower case, so I should have given her the uppers, since William knows all his letters, both upper and lower cases. Lesson learned.)
I then invited William to put the letters in alphabetical order, which he did by singing the alphabet song multiple times. I gave William handful of the object magnets to match to the corresponding letter. I only gave him about ten at a time because I didn’t want him to get overwhelmed by the total amount. As you can see in the picture, there are multiple objects for each letter, totally sixty objects to sort.
My dialogue with William sounded something like this:Me: What is the name of that picture? William: Fish Me: What sound do you hear at the beginning of “fish”? William: /f/ Me: Good! What letter makes the /f/ sound? William: F!
And then William would match the magnet with the appropriate letter.
While William worked independently on the most familiar objects and sounds, I jumped over to Corinne.
I only gave Corinne one object magnet at a time. Our dialogue was a little different.Me: What is the name of that picture? Corinne: Horsie! Me: That’s correct. It’s a horse. Horse starts with the /h/ sound. Horse begins with the letter h. Can you find h? Corinne: Right there!
Being the first time Corinne has worked with lower case letters, her response “Right there!” was only correct a small portion of the time. So, I would gently correct her and point to the correct letter, telling her of its name.Me: This is h. H says /h/. Horse begins with /h/ and the letter h.
I know, this is a lot of information for a recently turned two year old, but I believe that simple exposure can be a very influential way to learn. For example, Corinne knows about half her upper case alphabet because of a puzzle, not because I have formally taught her the names of those letters.
Seeing the range in abilities, I jumped back and forth between my two children until all the object magnets have been matched with the corresponding letter based on their initial sound. William took a little longer to finish, because he had twice as many magnets to match, so while I worked with him on the last few magnets (he saved the most difficult for last), I had Corinne sort the letters and the objects and put them away.
*Note: the foam object magnets didn’t actually belong in the same box as the letters, but it was the most obvious way I could keep Corinne sorting while I finished working with William.
Overall, this activity took about forty five minutes to complete. One tidbit of advice, though: both the letters and the objects are magnetic, so use a magnetic board. This will help keep them organized and in the correct place. I don’t have a magnetic board. (Yet another item on my list of things to do). To do the entire alphabet took up most of our kitchen table, so a large magnetic board is necessary. That, or do only a portion of the alphabet at a time.