Alphabet Letter Sounds and Phonemic Awareness...
Parents are often encouraged to teach their young children the names of the letters in the alphabet, but learning the sounds that letters represent is much more important for developing the phonemic awareness of beginning readers.*
*(See our article, ‘Should I Teach My Toddler Letter Names?’ for a more detailed discussion of this point).
Understanding that letters represent the spoken sounds in words is the key idea that underpins phonics – the most effective method of reading instruction.
You might also find it helpful to read our ‘Points to Note‘ section below.
Alphabet Letter Sounds Sheets
We’ve included both a landscape and portrait version of this resource below…
A-Z Letter Sound and Phonemic Awareness Worksheets
Click on the links below to download a free pdf worksheet for each letter of the alphabet.
Points to Note:
Some letters can represent different sounds in different words, and children do need to learn all of the variations eventually. However, providing kids with too many alternatives in the early stages can be overwhelming and confusing for them.
The printables and worksheets on this page focus on the most common sounds that letters represent in words because this is a sensible place to start.
Be wary of resources for beginning readers that use some of the following examples…
- Angel and acorn for letter a. It’s more common for ‘a’ to represent the sound found in apple, ant, cat, lamp and tap.
- Circle and centre (center) for letter c. In these words, the letter c represents the sound normally associated with the letter s. The sound in cab, cap, cub, car and cow is more common for letter c.
- Ear or eagle for letter e. The sound in egg, elephant, ten and pet is more common.
- Giraffe or giant for letter g. Words such as gap, gate, big and goat contain the more common sound represented by the letter g.
- Ice cream or iron for letter i. Words such as insect, igloo, tip, fit and iguana are more appropriate for beginning readers.
- Knife and knee for the letter k. The letter k is silent in these words so they aren’t good examples for beginners. Kick, kit, key, kite and kangaroo are better examples.
- Unicorn and uniform for letter u. Umbrella, unhappy, up, mud and fun contain the more common sound represented by the letter u.
- Onion, oven, oval, owl and one for the letter o. Words such as on, ox, ostrich, dog and otter contain the more common sound for this letter.
- X-ray or xylophone for x. The common ‘x’ sound isn’t normally heard at the start of words. For example, in xylophone, the ‘x’ actually sounds like a ‘z’, and in x-ray it doesn’t represent the common sound found in words such as fox, box, six and taxi.
- Zebra is fine for most British English accents. However, some USA accents pronounce the Z in zebra as ‘zee’ rather than the more common sound found in zip, zero, zoo, buzz and fizz.
You will notice that we use ‘qu’ instead of ‘q’ in our printable resources. This isn’t a miss-print; it simply recognises that ‘q’ almost always appears in words with a ‘u’ following it. For this reason, many phonics programmes teach the letter combination ‘qu’, rather than ‘q’ on its own, and we think there’s some sense in doing this, although it’s not essential.