11 Ways to Teach Letter Sounds With Movement (Kinesthetic Activities for Alphabet Learners and multisensory spelling lesson ideas!)
Research and experience shows that kids learn best by play and multisensory activities. So when you start teaching your child the letter names and sounds of the alphabet, it's wise to find ways to teaching letter sounds with movement and come up with ways that will engage all their senses.
So.. I set out to build this list of a few creative ways to get those bodies moving and really teach those letter sounds with action and activity. This way our students can really deeply learn the building blocks of the alphabet and at the same time - get in a little exercise!
Several if not most of these activities can be done indoors, so on those too-hot, or too-cold days, we can still find ways to get our kids moving and learning.
If you're in a hurry just like I seem to always be and just want to print out the list, feel free to download a .pdf HERE!
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Find ways to teach phonics in motion, or to use kinesthetic activities for alphabet learners to get your child started in the right direction.
By the time you have finished moving through this list or even a few of these ideas with your kiddo, you are going to have a child who KNOWS his letter sounds and will be in a great place to really begin to take off in reading!
And - if you have a struggling reader, it may be a GREAT benefit for you to go back and practice these letter sounds, if this is a building block that your child may have missed. Really take the time to shore up those sounds in your learner.
1. Flashcard Fun Style
If you have gotten so far as to look up ways to teach your child the sounds of the letters of the alphabet, I bet there is a chance you have already picked up a deck of Alphabet flashcards for your little one. Am I right? If not, you may have it on your list of things to buy, or are considering it.
Flashcards are great! But instead of always just sitting your child down, and formally going through the cards one by one, consider using these in a way that promotes ACTION and phonics in motion. Get up off the seat and have your student go through the cards with you while doing something that moves their body.
Maybe create a motion for each letter sound so that when, for instance, you hold up the card "A", your child jumps into the "A" position with arms held high and clapped together.
Or, place the cards at the end of the room and if you have two kids, make them run across the room to grab a card, run back and tell you the sound. First one done wins!
Get creative and use your imagination to combine flashcards and kinesthetic activities for alphabet learning.
2. Football Alphabet Sounds
Forgive me for putting in such a simple idea, but this one so. much .WORKS. for my own children. Just go over and over the sounds while passing the ball back and forth, back and forth.
When it's his (or her) turn to throw the ball back, have them give YOU a letter to sound out so that they can hear it coming from you too.
Or, sometimes, when I'm introducing something new, like a new vowel sound, we'll pass the ball and just say it over and over (and over) again while throwing.
There is truly something magical about simple ACTION and learning. We have even (gasp) been known to do this in the living room. I hear of these mystical moms who don't let kids throw balls in the house, but I haven't passed that test quite yet. 🙂
3. Sing the Sounds
Sound and rhythm can greatly help with remembering the sounds of the letters. And there are so many to choose from!
You can quite literally pick any song (or - hey, just the alphabet song), and sing it. You can carry a song with you anywhere you go - in the car, in the backyard, in the bathtub - and lo and behold you are practicing sounds!
This will date me, but I LIVED off of Sesame Street videos back in the '70's. I know there are so many more to choose from nowadays (just Google alphabet songs!). So use these to your advantage!
Check out this fun video for the alphabet. There are SO MANY out there to choose from.
And - while you are watching, to put the MOTION into it, it's pretty much required parent behavior to get up and dance along!
4. Giant Puzzle ABC's
LOVE these big giant puzzles! They aren't too expensive, and puzzles are SO. GOOD. for so many reasons -
Your beginning reader is learning the letters of the alphabet, PLUS they aren't just sitting. Since it's a big puzzle, they are up and moving to manipulate the parts.
This is a great indoor activity, but you could change it up and do the puzzle out on the driveway or on the porch too!
Make sure that you encourage your child to name and say the sounds of each letter as she places them to really ingrain the sounds.
5. Sticky Sounds - Letter sounds in action!
Do you have some sticky notepads around the house? Grab a marker and put one letter on each sticky. Then put them around the house and have your child go and collect the stickies as they run around the house.
Each time they grab a sticky note, they must read the letter and say the sound (or sounds) of the letter before they can run on to the next one. See how many sticky notes your child can collect!
*You could also make this into a relay with more than one child and let them try over and over again to collect as many sound stickies as they can with each "race".
6. Hopscotch Alphabet
Take a tub full of sidewalk chalk and make a hopscotch pattern on the driveway, sidewalk or porch. Draw a letter of the alphabet onto each hopping spot so that your child can say the sound each time he hops on the letter.
And then change it up! Write different letters every now and then to mix it up, or just make the hopscotch pattern go aaaallllll the way down the street. 🙂
When your child is ready, put them in charge of writing out the letters. And then you can be the one to hop across the pattern saying the sounds. Take turns!
7. Wheelbarrow Vowel Sounds
Have you ever done the wheelbarrow walk with your child where they have their hands on the floor, and you grab their feet and they walk across the floor? Try having your child say letters and letter sounds as they walk with their hands.
This activity was one of several that our occupational therapist recommended for our son. So it has great benefits besides just for having fun, including strengthening those core muscles and it's a weight bearing activity (heavy work) so it activates proprioceptors for organization too.
My son loves to do this wheelbarrow activity, and we do it every day. He especially loves to "walk" himself up the stairs. If you can do this with your child, use it as a way to learn vowel and consonant letters and sounds. Just be careful not to go to fast or let your child arch her back too much or get hurt.
8. Alphabet Sound Relay
Think of any relay in the world that you could come up with at all, and basically just incorporate the letter sounds every time one leg of the "relay" is complete. Just take any opportunity you can to integrate the sounds to make it fun and help your child remember and learn the alphabet.
Here are some ideas for relays:
Egg on the spoon
Orange under the neck
Blow the balloon across the room
Tennis ball (or larger ball) between the knees
And there are so many other ways to relay. Just look around the house, and come up with creative ideas. Be sure to have your child speak out their letter sounds throughout the relay to incorporate learning.
9. Dinnertime Alphabet
Find ways to go over the letter sounds during your family dinners (or breakfasts, or whatever regular meals you have together). This is a great time to "quiz" your child in a fun way to let him show off what he has learned so far.
Or you can go around the table and have each person say the sound of the letter of the alphabet, in order. Whoever gets a sound wrong is out! Another way to use this time is to let your child quiz the family on thier knowledge of letter sounds. Since you child is the one in charge, he gets to say who is in and who is out (and make up whatever rules he wants.)
Meals together are for some a lost art in the family, but if possible, in any way, shape, or form, this is great family bonding time. Use it to your advantage as you teach your child!
Check out this fun article for ideas on fun family games for meals together. And use your creativity to add in letter sound learning~
10. Letter Sounds Video
Just like the video above, there are SO very many other videos to choose from in today's digital society. You can make any of these videos interactive, too! Just get up off the floor or couch and act out all the songs and sounds you see.
Here is another idea for a video about letter sounds that you can dance to, or come up with different letter sound actions:
11. Read aloud while doing ANY activity!
Simply review letter sound aloud while doing any type of physical activity! Here are some ideas for physical activities you can do while shoring up the letter sounds.
If you want to go a step further, have the sounds visually accessible while doing the activity. (Tape letters up on a wall, write them on a white board or chalkboard, etc.)
- Jumping jacks
- Trampoline play
- Any sports
- Swimming games
- Going for a walk
- Climbing a tree
- Swinging, playset
Really, any physical activity can be incorporated. Can you think up any ideas that will fit your family? What does your child like to do? Practice letter sounds while doing it!
When it comes to learning phonics and letter sounds, teaching letter sounds with movement is a must.
It's just a truth! Children learn best by means of body movement and combining physical activity with learning.
I'm sure in addition to these, you can find many other phonics sound activities online for the personality and character of your own child. Pinterest and Google can be a great friend for finding anything you need.
I hope you can find some ideas here for your learner and that your child will become a great reader!