Using Sound Walls in your Classroom
You might have seen Sound Walls being displayed more and more in US classrooms. They are fantastic teaching tools, and while Word Walls have long been a staple of phonics teaching, we wanted to share some more information about this newer phenomenon.
Read on to find out more about Sound Walls, how they work with Letterland, and why they are likely to be effective support for your students. You might even get a sneak peek at some exciting new Letterland Sound Wall products coming early 2023!
What is a Sound Wall?
It’s a way to organize and display words or spelling patterns that are grouped by sound. Sound Walls also often include images of mouth positions / articulation linked with the sound.
What is the purpose of a Sound Wall?
There are 26 letters in the alphabet, but there are 44 sounds in the English language. A Sound Wall can help children understand this difference better and recognize the sounds that are represented by various spelling and reading patterns.
What is the difference between a Sound Wall and a Word Wall?
A Word Wall groups words by initial letters which can cause confusion as the sounds heard at the beginning of words are often not the same even if they do have the same initial letter.
For example, the sound at the beginning of ‘sound’ is not the same as the sound of the digraph at the start of ‘show’ but both begin with the same letter ‘s’. A Sound Wall ensures these different sounds are grouped separately.
Can I make a Letterland Sound Wall?
Yes! There are lots of ways to make a Sound Wall but if you would like to make a Letterland Sound Wall we’d recommend using our Sound Wall Cards (coming 2023) to group sounds into consonants (arranging them by manner and place of articulation) and vowels (arranging them into a v-shape or ‘vowel valley’).
If you can't wait for our Sound Wall Cards, use Picture Code Cards instead.
Letter Sound Cards can be added underneath each Sound Wall Card to display many of the alternate spelling patterns. You might even want to add some example words to show the phonemes in context.
Letterland Sound Wall Posters (coming 2023) are a great visual aid so that as you are building your Sound Wall, students can use it as a reference tool to see and group sounds and spelling patterns with the help of their Letterland friends. It’s also really useful when reading and spelling words.
Building your Sound Wall over time
There are two clear ways you can sort your wall. Setting it all up at the start of the year and covering up all the sounds to be revealed as they are taught or putting up the wall as you go along. Remember that Sound Walls will look different for different grades – not all spelling patterns are covered in Kindergarten and so if you start with a full wall, you may not reveal everything by the end of the year.
Reviewing the sounds is so important when teaching phonics. Your wall should only be displaying the sounds you have already introduced so it can be a great prompt and tool for quickly reviewing those sounds and spelling patterns before you introduce new ones.
If space is at a premium or you want the children to have their own personal Sound Wall, we have created a free Sound Wall Student Download. Children can build their own Vowel Valley or Consonant Wall as you introduce new sounds and spelling patterns.
We're excited to hear what you think of our new Sound Wall products or just to see some examples of your Sound Walls. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share with us.
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