Standing Sounds

Hands holding up letters to spell the word tips in capital letters

Purpose:  To help beginning level learners develop phonemic awareness and increase spelling skills with a fun and interactive activity designed to get them out of their seats!

Preparation Time:  10 minutes to create a word list and letter cards

Materials Needed:  A word list with 6-10 words and letter cards (each card will have one of each letters from the word list).


  1. Distribute large letter cards to the class.  Give more advanced students more cards (2-4) and fewer to less-advanced (1-2).  Students will keep these cards throughout the activity so they see how the same letter appears in many words, and that its sound may change.  
  2. Call out one of the vocabulary words.  For example,  the list could be: bag, sugar, bottle, oil, carton and eggs.  Students may use a reference sheet with the words written on it to check to see if their letter is in the word they heard.  
  3. In the front of the room, students arrange themselves in order to form the word.  More advanced students will take on leadership roles and make sure less advanced students come up to help form the word.  The teacher can really take a back seat at this stage.
  4. Once they’re in order, ask the rest of the class, “Is this okay?”  Confirm or make corrections.
  5. Ask each individual student what their sound is.  They may need help.  They may also need help combining with a neighbor to make sounds for consonant blends.  
  6. Once everyone knows their sound, lead the whole class in saying each individual sound as the student holding the corresponding card holds up the card.  Repeat this two more times.  
  7. Next, say, “One by one,” and hold up an index finger to cue each student to say their sound individually as they hold up their card.  In this step, each student takes responsibility for his or her individual sound.  Repeat two more times.  
  8. Say, “Let’s read,” and model blending the sounds together as the class joins in.  Repeat two more times.  
  9. Students sit down with their cards.  Go back to step 2 for the next word.
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