Turtle, tractor, tiger, traffic light. What do all these words have in common? The all start with /t/. /t/, T, of course! Research shows that it is important to use systematic and direct instruction when teaching letters and letter sounds.
Children respond well to REAL photographs as it helps them make real-life connections. I have created phonics photo cards with REAL photos of common objects, animals, etc. that preschoolers are likely to recognize.
These photo cards are an excellent tool for daily letter instruction and can also be used for a variety of letter recognition games and activities.
With the reading curriculum I have written for my preschool, I have included six to ten laminated photos to pair with each letter. I use these photos to aid in introducing new letters of the alphabet to my students. They are a way for me to teach my students the connection between sounds and their written symbol. I call them “phonics photo cards.”
These are photos I have found on the internet from photo sharing sites. I cannot sell these images, but I can print them and use them for educational purposes. I have them printed four to a page, in full color, on heavy card stock, then laminate them for added durability so they can be used year after year by both myself and my students. I keep them in a box categorized by the letters of the alphabet.
On the first preschool day of the week, before using these phonics photo cards, I introduce the new letter using the letter card from our alphabet cards on our circle time board. The dialogue may go like this:Me (holding up a new alphabet/letter card): This is the letter T. Say T. Students: T. Me (pointing to the appropriate letter): This is upper case T. This is lower case t. (Pointing to the picture on the alphabet card), T says /t/, /t/, /t/ like the /t/ sound we hear at the beginning of /t/, /t/, /t/ractor. What sound does T make? Students: /t/, /t/, /t/
After the new letter has been introduced and the students can identify it by name, I bring out the phonics photo cards. I hold up each card one by one and demonstrate how the beginning sound in each word correlates with the written symbol for that sound.Me (holding up a phonics photo card of a traffic light): This is a picture of a traffic light. What is this a picture of? Students: Traffic light! Me: I hear /t/ at the beginning of traffic light. Do you hear /t/ at the beginning of traffic light? Students: Yes, (although some students may not hear it without more practice). Me: What sound do you hear at the beginning of traffic light? Students: /t/, /t/, /t/
Then, I place the phonics photo card of a traffic light up on our bulletin board. The process continues until all the photo cards have been introduced to the students. While it may seem a little mundane, it goes quickly as students learn what to expect. I include this piece in my phonics instruction because it is an incredibly effective way to teach students how to listen the initial sound in a word. The repetitive practice is very beneficial for the students who do not immediately hear the sound. And, this kind of direct instruction is supported by research, where it has been found that direct phonics instruction it is paired with authentic learning experiences supports developing early literacy skills.
The second preschool day of the week, my dialogue changes a little.Me (holding up a phonics photo card of a traffic light): What is this a picture of? Students: Traffic light! Me: What sound do you hear at the beginning of traffic light? Students: /t/, /t/, /t/
And then I place the phonics photo card on the bulletin board. The process continues with the remaining cards. On both days, this activity is always followed by other letter/sound activities that I incorporate throughout the day, but I will save those for other posts. 😉
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.