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Teaching Preschool Beginning Sound Activities Using a Shoe Rack

written by: Laurie Patsalides • edited by: Laurie Patsalides • updated: 1/17/2012

Teachers are always looking for hands-on activities for their preschoolers to play, to reinforce learning of beginning sounds. Here are some self created games your preschool students can play using an everyday household item.

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    From Vinyl Shoe Organizer to Alphabet Sorter

    When considering the cost of commercially-produced teacher games and materials, I created an inexpensive game for students using an over-the-door vinyl shoe bag. The bags are available at Amazon, for less than $10, and with a little creativity, this game is sure to last a lifetime! Preschool children will sort picture cards into the shoe compartments, thus practicing several skills, sorting, alphabet ordering, and beginning sounds.

    Materials Needed:

    Over-the-door vinyl shoe bag (12 pocket is best and most common)

    Picture cards- laminate (free at freereading.net, learn more about this great website in my review)

    Permanent black marker

    Optional- small children's toysFrom Shoe Organizer to Beginning Sounds Activity 

    Laminate

    Sticky notes

    Teacher pointer stick

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    Instructions

    1) Using the black permanent marker, begin by printing each letter of the alphabet on a separate shoe compartment. Begin in the top left hand corner of the bag and work left to write and down the bag. You will have enough compartments for the alphabet up to W. The letters W/X share a pocket and the letters Y/Z share a pocket. If desired, use capital and lower case letters, for example, Aa, Bb, or use only the capital letter.

    2) Print free picture cards, laminate, and cut them out, or use ready-made phonics cards with just pictures.

    3) Gather small children's toys

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    Beginning Sound Activities

    It is best to play these games in small groups at center time or during small group instruction time. As a warm-up exercise, always begin each game by singing or saying the ABCs and pointing to each letter on the shoe rack with the teacher pointer stick (also great to use a student volunteer for this task). I find it best if you are singing the alphabet to emphasize deliberately singing at a slow pace as preschool children tend to blend the letters, l, m, n, o, and p together as they sing aloud.

    Two ways to use:

    • Hang it over the door and with supervision allow students to use a step stool to enter the picture card or toy into the letter compartment (kids love this); or,
    • Hang it low on a wall or chalkboard with sticky tack or Velcro so it is within student reach.

    There are several beginning sound activities:

    1) A student states the name of the picture aloud and isolates the beginning sound. Next, he or she places the phonics picture card into the correct pocket.

    2) Object sort- a student states the name of the object (or toy) aloud and isolates the beginning sound. He or she puts the object into the pocket that begins with that letter sound.

    3) Cover an alphabet letter with a sticky note-- the student(s) name which letter is missing (alphabet ordering). For a more difficult task, cover several letters and give students a corresponding sheet of paper with the same letters missing on it. Students will print the missing letter on their papers.

    4) Visit an alphabet letter-- pretend each compartment is a letter's house. Say the alphabet aloud. Using the pointer stick again, the students stop to "visit" a letter the teacher calls out. When they arrive at the letter's "house," they name the letter and the letter sound. If possible, they should name at least one word that begins with that letter.

    On another note, it is best to ask students to select a picture card or toy without looking so they do not practice letters they already know!

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    Conclusion

    These inexpensive, homemade beginning sound activities are a sure crowd pleaser while giving preschool students hours of practice with alphabet letters and sounds. My students enjoyed playing with the alphabet sorter every day!

    Find another homemade beginning sounds game by, Laurie Patsalides to use in the classroom.

References

  • Author's classroom experience.

    Photo courtesy of Amazon.

Preschool ABC Ideas

Preschoolers enjoy learning their ABCs. Here's a series on how to teach them the alphabet letters by Laurie Patsalides
  1. How to Make Preschool Alphabet Books
  2. Create a Sensory Letter Book for a Fun Preschool Experience
  3. Teaching Preschool Beginning Sound Activities Using a Shoe Rack