IMPORTANT! If you omit teaching this lesson, be sure to teach the Reinforcement Song described in Activity 3 below. Start with Activity G2. See Fast Track for more details.

1. Overview

Identify and practice listening to the beginning sound in one-syllable words, focusing on one sound (phoneme) at a time. The child will also become familiar with the lower-case letter that goes with each beginning sound. This is a simple identification activity, but your child will not be bored if you move at a fairly fast pace. This is an important step in your child’s introduction to the letter sounds.
first things first
Words that start with /rrr/: rrrobe, rrram, rrrock!
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2. Materials

Print out the picture cards and sound cards, preferably on sturdy card-stock paper, and cut them apart. The word index is for the adult’s reference only. You will want to prop up the sound card for each round so that the child is looking straight at it. Lean it against a block so that it is angled appropriately. NOTE: Remember how we describe the lower-case letters on the sound cards: “This is what this sound looks like when we write it out.” ↑ Top

3. Activity

Video: How to play First Things First
Select a beginning sound (for example, /nnn/) and put out the appropriate sound card. Find the picture cards that go with that sound (six each for all the letter sounds except q and z, which have just three each). Now go through each picture card with your child, emphasizing the beginning sound in each word and pointing out the connection to the sound card.
Adult: [pointing to sound card] This is what the /nnn/ sound looks like when we write it. What’s the sound? Child: /nnn/ Adult: That’s right. Here’s a picture that starts with /nnn/: nest. Say nest. Child: Nest! Adult: Again: nnnest. You say it. Child: nnnest Adult: What sound is at the beginning? Listen: nnnest. Child: N. Adult: That’s the name of the letter. I need the sound. Child: /nnn/ Adult: Good job.
Go through the other cards with pictures that start with the /nnn/ sound, repeating the steps above. Each session of this activity should cover just one new letter sound. NOTE: When pointing to a sound card, make sure your fingertip is below the letter, so the child can see the entire letter.

Reinforcement Song:

Repeat and reinforce these beginning sounds with your child as much as possible. One way is to use the children’s song “Pease Porridge Hot” (This is the same tune as “Hot Cross Buns”). Insert a trio of words from this activity’s word list that have the same starting sound. For example:
Adult: Milk, mouse, mat, Milk, mouse, mat. What’s the sound they start with? Milk, mouse, mat. [Signal child to respond.] Child: /mmm/ Adult: [Give thumbs-up sign and sing:]             Milk, mouse, mat. Milk, mouse, mat. /mmm/ is the sound they start with! Milk, mouse, mat.
Once the child understands how the song works, encourage him to sing along with you. Sing this song frequently, with different beginning sounds, throughout the lessons that follow G1. This song provides review and practice with previously learned beginning sounds while the child moves forward and learns new beginning sounds. Once learned, these and future songs about phonemes can and should be reviewed at random times such as transition times, riding in the car, bath time, etc. ↑ Top

4. Suggested Schedule

You will do this activity with your child numerous times in order to familiarize the child with all the different consonant starting sounds and their corresponding letters. Introduce one new letter sound a day, according to the schedule in the table below. Once your child has a good grasp of four of the starting sounds, use those sound cards and picture cards in the next game, Picture Piles. Use this first batch of sounds in that game while continuing to go through the other sounds in this game.
Day Review Add
1 m
2 m s
3 m, s t
4 m, s, t v
5 m, s, t, v
6 v d
7 d l
8 d, l c
9 d, l, c f
10 d, l, c, f
11 f h
12 h p
13 h, p n
14 h, p, n g
15 h, p, n, g
16 g r
17 r k
18 r, k b
19 r, k, b j
20 r, k, b, j
21 j y
22 y q
23 y, q w
24 y, q, w z
25 y, q, w, z
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5. Variation

As you go through your other daily activities, encourage your child to think of other words or names that begin with a particular phoneme (sound). For example, play I Spy (“I spy…something that starts with /nnn/”). ↑ Top

6. Small Groups (2-5 children)

Lesson Objective: Using assorted pictures and one consonant letter card, children will hear the names of each pictured item and match the pictures that begin with the displayed letter card phoneme to the displayed letter card. GELDS (Georgia Early Learning & Development Standards): CLL6.4a Georgia Standards of Excellence: ELAGSEKRF3.a Common Core State Standards: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.3.A Additional Materials:
  • wooden block and sound picture cards for each child
Adaptation: Read the main activity, watch the video, and follow the instructions above, with the following changes: Show the sound picture card. Give each child the /m/ sound letter card and a block for propping it up. Go over the picture cards for the /mmm/ sound. Have the children name the pictures with you. Follow the schedule for introducing starting sounds. Sing “Pease Porridge Hot”, inserting a trio of /m/ words from the word list. Reinforcement: Challenge the children to think of the other words that begin with the /mmm/ sound. Does anyone’s name begin with /mmm/? Family members? Pets? Objects in the classroom? Use this Reinforcement at Home form to tell parents and guardians how they can reinforce lessons outside the classroom. ↑ Top

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