Neuhaus is closed today, January 18, due to inclement weather.

Teaching. Reading. Reaching.
Neuhaus Education Center is a 501(c)(3)
non-profit organization dedicated
to promoting reading success.

What is a research-based intervention for a kindergarten student having difficulty with letter and sound recognition?

Generally, research supports direct, systematic teaching of the links between sounds and symbols along with practice in text and listening comprehension skills. Phonemic awareness, the ability to detect the smallest units of sound in a language, is necessary for word recognition and spelling.

The following ideas for strengthening these skills are from Multisensory Teaching of Basic Language Skills by Judith Birsh:

Phonemic Awareness:

·         Rhyming activities like reading rhyming books and calling attention to the rhyming words; odd-man-out (man, foot, pan -which word does NOT rhyme?)

·         Partial phoneme segmentation (map – m-ap – what’s the first sound?)

·         Full phoneme segmentation (map – m-a-p, how many sounds?)

·         Phoneme manipulation (“seat” – say “seat” without the /s/ - “eat.”)

Alphabet Knowledge and Letter Recognition:

·         Multisensory teaching – use manipulative letters and other materials sand, carpet squares etc.

·         Sing the alphabet to different tunes (Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush, Mary Had a Little Lamb, etc.)

·         Match manipulative letters to corresponding letter shapes on a mat.

·         Sequence manipulative letters on an alphabet arc, always ending with touching and saying letters.

·         Use a mirror for discovering the difference in vowel and consonant letters (vowels open the mouth and are “ voiced” – consonants close the mouth and can be voiced or unvoiced)

·         Missing letter cards – on each card is printed a short series with missing letter (a-b__, h-i__, x-y__)

·         Random placing of letters – choose letter from a pile, name it, place it on alphabet arc.

·         Alphabet Battle – each has a set of letters in container. Each draw a letter, name it, and place it in the center. The one with the letter closest to A keeps both letters. Play continues till all letters are used, and then count to discover the winner.

·         Rapid Word recognition chart (6 squares across, 6 squares down – print 6 letters that need practice across the top row, and mix them up on subsequent rows. Student touches and says each letter on the chart as fast as possible so as to increase the number of readings within one minute.

Letter – Sound Correspondence:

·         Introduce letter sounds in a multisensory way – auditory, visual, and kinesthetic (touch).

·         Use a key word for each letter sound.

·         When introducing a letter sound, allow child to watch in a mirror, observing if the sound is open (mouth open), voiced or unvoiced (vocal cords active or not), or blocked by the tongue, teeth or lips.

·         When some letters are learned blend sounds to make words(at Neuhaus we teach certain letters first – i, t, p, s, n, and right away words can be formed: it, pin, nip, sit, sin, in, sip, tip, snip, spit).

·         Play with sounds using letter tiles – say the sounds slowly, moving letter tiles closer till sounds blend, manipulate letter sounds using letter tiles to make new words (t-a-n, “take away the /t/ and replace it with /m/ - what’s the word?”).

These are just some of many ideas, but possibly these ideas will help you invent or become aware of more. If you are interested, one of our classes that addresses these teaching skills, Reading Readiness, is offered online. Read about it here, and register online for a convenient class time through There are classroom videos that you can view on showing how teachers encourage phonemic awareness and foster the growth of letter-sound knowledge. Here are a couple: