Initial Phoneme Sort

Essential Practice: Phonological and Phonemic Awareness

Children will listen to and identify initial sounds 

Teachers will play targeted phoneme sorting games with small groups and individual children 

Children love to sort and classify – do it with sounds to reinforce sounds & sound-symbol connections.

Initial Phoneme Sorting – Sound Drawers

  1. Choose 2 sound drawer boxes and place them on the mat. 
  2. Take the letters out of the boxes, name them and the sound with the child and place at the top of the mat. 
  3. Carefully pour out the objects from the boxes and mix them up at the bottom of the mat. 
  4. Choose an object. Say the name emphasizing the first sound. 
  5. Place the object under the corresponding letter while saying the sound and the name of the object. 
  6. Repeat for all other objects, gradually transferring the activity to the child.
  7. If the child puts an object under the wrong letter say, (for cat) “Is it a bat or a cat?”
  8. Put the drawers at the bottom or top of each row of objects and carefully put each object and the letter back in the box and return to the set of drawers.
Sound sorting drawers with objects for letter h  and k
Picture card sorting

Initial Picture Card Sorting

  1. Preselect a set of picture cards and bring them to the mat. 
  2. Line up the corresponding letters on the top of the mat, saying each sound as you go.
  3. Turn over each picture card 1 at a time naming the picture with the children until all cards have been introduced. (Some children may have a different name for each picture, make sure the name you give matches the initial letter sound of the letters you display.)
  4. Turn all cards upside down again. Demonstrate flipping over one picture, naming it “boy, bbb, boy” then placing it under the initial sound. 
  5. Have each child take turns flipping over 1 picture at a time and placing it under the letter, emphasizing they say the name of the picture and the initial sound. If a child incorrectly places a picture, substitute the initial sound and ask them if this is right.  For example, if they place the boy picture under the S ask, “Is it sss, soy? Or bbb, boy?” Then correctly place the picture under the correct letter.

Connections and Extensions

  • Start by sorting only two initial phoneme sounds.  As children internalize the rules of the game and demonstrate mastery of sounds, extend to sorting more and more sounds within one game. 
  • Practice the same skills with cookie sheets and magnet letters, felt mats with letters written at the top, ice cube trays with letters written inside, pocket charts with letter cards, mystery bags, or memory game matching sounds and pictures.
  • Use recent ‘letters of the week’ and find objects and pictures that align with vocabulary from your current curriculum focus!

Year-Long Trajectory

The Year-Long Trajectory is your scope and sequence for learning experiences across the year.