Initial sound practice is something we do over and over and over again... and it never gets old (for the kids, at least)! Especially at the beginning of the year, it is important that we have students work with initial sounds because it helps them do two things:
1- it helps them have more practice with letter sounds, and 2- it helps them remember that each letter makes one sound (which will develop their phonemic awareness).
Practice with initial sounds helps our students develop their phonological awareness EVERY time! And, when connected to letters, it also helps them develop their phonemic awareness, too!
So, why not make this foundational practice fun and enjoyable every day during my daily review and/or spiral time?
In order to set this up, I needed a little space in my classroom where all of my students (in the whole group) could see the pocket chart. Then, I needed sentence strips with my students' names written on them. Finally, I needed a predictable, well-known song.
The song I used this year, "The Wheels on the Bus," is from Mrs. Jump's Interactive Practice Pages.
At the beginning of the year, I really like to start every day with a song that reiterates beginning sounds and helps us practice each others' names as well!
Of course, I can do songs and practice this many different ways throughout the year.
At the beginning of the year though, it is easiest for students to remain engaged when they can relate the song to someone in their class (and they don't even realize they're really learning each others' names)!
I first introduced my initial sound review song with "Wheels on the Bus" because the kids usually already know this song and it's really easy to get through quickly!
I really liked using "Wheels on the Bus" this year because it already incorporates students' first names AND initial letter sounds. Why re-invent the wheel anyway?
Since one of the first stories that I read to my class is Chrysanthemum, I have students turn in a sheet from their parents about how they got their name and why it's special!
Each day (after the pages about their names have come back), I draw a students' name and read about their name to the class. After I have spent about one minute telling the class about a specific student, I place their name and their first letter in the pocket chart where needed. Finally, all of my students track my print and sing the song with me while working on their initial sounds! This chart helps you take a student's name and sing about it, while also practicing initial sounds.
With this specific song, I ended up getting each students' name two times, and getting the initial sound their name begins with 8 times!
Here's how we used this "Wheels on the Bus" process daily! I will use the name Dave as the example!
(I liked to plug up my computer (and not show anything on the screen) to have the fun Wheels on the Bus Karaoke Version with great music playing while we sing; however, I found that it was easier time-wise to just pull out my phone and play it for the kids as I was standing at the chart!)
"Our name for today's song is....."
(I hold up my sentence strip with the name and they try to read it.)
"Yes, our name for the song is Dave! Let me tell you a little about Dave's name"
*Here is where I read the sheet that the student's parent filled out- where did your name come from, what does it mean and why did you choose it? After that, we begin the song portion in the whole group!
"Now, we know about Dave. When I say Dave, what sound do you hear at the beginning of Dave?"
(Students will say /d/. If they say letter D, I correct them- "What sound?")
"Alright, /d/... so now we need to repeat that sound by putting capital D and lower case D throughout our song."
(I place the name and the letters in the song on our pocket chart.)
"Now that we have our song, let's sing about the wheels on Dave's bus!"
I always sing the song one time with the students, tracking the print.
For the second time, I let them sing it without me. I might also pick a helper to come and track the print to show the others, instead of me!
Once the song is over, I review the name and ask for the initial sound one more time. I dismiss my students from this activity by letting them share a word that starts with that initial sound (/d/ in this example) with a partner.
The wheels on Dave's bus go dumpity dump, dumpity dump, dumpity dump......
The wheels on Kristy's bus goes kumpity kump, kumpity kump, kumpity kump......
*The picture attached shows you how I have chosen to set up the chart.
(In my picture, the name says Dave, so it reads, "The wheels on Dave bus..." I have done this on purpose because I actually use these name cards for my informal assessment and I do not want students to have to deal with a stranger 's when they're begin assessed; however, I have told students that, "We will add the s when singing the song because the /s/ on the end shows that the bus will belong to Dave- when someone belongs to someone, there will be a /s/ on the end."
As I dismiss students from this activity and have them share a word using the initial sound for that day, I listen and note who is sharing correctly or incorrectly. I love to give feedback and call out some great examples!
Also, I informally assess one student each day on paper. The person whose name is chosen for the song is who I assess.
I give that student their name on a sentence strip (I use the one from the chart) and have them "mix and fix" the letters in order. Once they do that, they also draw a picture to match that includes one time which begins with the same letter as their name. [This helps show me that they have the concept down and it also helps them see that pictures are created to reinforce words- the name came first, then the picture came after.] I set a timer for 5 minutes and that one student, on that one day, gets to have their own special time while practicing their name.
I check this name paper for order of letters, cutting skills, initial sound matching and a proper illustration.
A good example of work for this would be Don. Don would cut his name apart, one letter at a time, and would glue his name, in order, D-O-N, on his paper. Then, he would draw himself and would also add a doughnut or a dog in his picture.
In the end, with this assessment, each child will get 5 special minutes and I can see if they understood the concept or not- and, I can easily plan for one person per day!
Beginning sounds are always fun and helpful for our kids; repeated practice is key!
I love to put beginning sounds practice in centers!
My first activity with beginning sounds in centers is one with names (which is directly and easily connected to this lesson)! I have all of my students' names written on cards. When students are in this center, they use our word wall as a reference and put the name cards in alphabetical order in a pocket chart. Students love this center because it lets them explore each others' names while also moving back and forth between the word wall and their pocket chart.
Some other fun center activities and beginning sounds support activities are attached!