Most kids who struggle to read need a lot more practice applying the rules of reading before they become fluent with applying the rules in their reading and spelling. One way to make these rules stick as well as preventing boredom from the extensive review is to make games out of the practice. Letter tile activities are a great way to teach reading concepts to kids who are struggling.
Benefits of teaching with letter tile activities
- improves visual and auditory perception
- improves concepts of before and after
- helps kids recognize letters and their sequential order
- helps kids to develop sound-symbol association
- increases ability to apply spelling generalizations
- develops syllabication analysis skills
Getting Started Teaching With Letter Tiles
When I first started doing letter tile activities with my 7-year old, I was embarrassingly surprised that he really didn’t know letter names at all. As my 8th child, I apparently forgot to sing the alphabet song with him as well. OOOPS!
This kid had struggled SO much with phonemic awareness in his younger years that we focused primarily on those skills. He now has excellent phonemic awareness skills so I comfort myself with that.
The following letter activities work better if kids can already name the letters of the alphabet. The following activities will help to teach letter names to your child. I am currently using these activities with my son and he loves the hands-on nature of the activities.
Teaching the Alphabet to Young Children
- Name 5 letters as you place them in sequence on the table, one by one, before your child.
- Have your child name each letter in sequence as she touches it with her pointer finger of her dominant hand.
- Next, scramble the letters and have your child arrange them in proper order, naming them as she places them.
- Add 1 or 2 more letters as soon as possible until she can arrange and name the entire alphabet.
- Write the letters of the alphabet on a piece of paper, or download this printable alphabet strip, print it up, and lay it on the table in front of your child.
- Have your child match each letter tile to the alphabet strip.
- Practice matching upper and lower case letters, for example Aa, Bb, Cc and so on.
Teaching Sound Symbol Association With Letter Tiles
Once your child knows the name and sequence of the letters, you can proceed to these more advanced activities.
- Ask your child to put the tiles in alphabet order on the table.
- Ask child to find the vowels and put them in a column in order (I like letter tiles where the vowels are a different color than the consonants.)
- Ask student to build words, one at a time. For example: map, bed, wig, hot, run – or for older kids who have sight words they have been working on, have them build their sight words. To learn an amazingly effective method for teaching sight words to kids with dyslexia, read this post.
- Point to words your child has built and ask:
- What is the beginning sound?
- What is the vowel sound?
- What is the ending sound?
- Build nonsense words and ask the same questions.
- Dictate the vowel sounds in non-sequential order and have your child find the corresponding letter tile.
- Ask these questions while returning tiles to strip or whatever storage system you use:
- Hand me the letter that is the ending sound in “map”
- Hand me the letter that is the vowel sound in “hot”
- Hand me the letter that begins the word “bed”
More Letter Tile Activities
Teaching Letter Sequencing With Letter Tiles
- Have your child put some letters you have selected in sequential order.
- Choose a letter and have your child name the next 5 letters in sequential order.
- Remove a letter and have your child identify the missing letter.
- Ask before and after questions, for example, what comes after ‘q’ or what letter comes before ‘m’?
- Reverse 2 or more letters and have your child find the change.
- Scramble the letters and have your child put them in sequential order.
Teaching Sound-Symbol Association With Letter Tiles
Choose words and sounds for these activities that you have noticed your child needs extra practice. I keep track of my kids’ daily lessons, including areas that need additional review, with my reading lesson planner, available here.
- Pronounce sound and have your child choose the corresponding letter.
- Select letters and have your child pronounce the corresponding sound.
- Say a nonsense syllable and have your child build the complete word.
- Build a word and have your child build rhyming words.
Teaching Spelling With Letter Tiles
- Say a word and have your child choose letters and spell it.
- Present to your child a scrambled word and have her rearrange the letters to spell the correct word.
- Dictate a verb and have your child build that verb and its other tenses.
- Review any words from their current lessons.
- Have your child build words that illustrate the current rules they know, such as:
- Silent e rule
- C and g rule
- Y rule
- Other spelling generalizations such as whether to use -ch or -tch, etc.
Teaching Syllable Rules and Analysis With Letter Tiles
- Build a word and have your child separate it into syllables.
- Dictate word and have your child build the word, divide into syllables, and identify the kinds of syllables.
- Dictate nonsense words and have your child build them, divide into syllables, and identify the kinds of syllables.
- Have your child build words with whichever syllable rule they are working on or that they need additional review with.
- Review prefixes and suffixes:
- Dictate prefix, plus root word, have your child build the complete word. (i.e. re-run)
- Dictate root word and suffix, have your child build the complete word. (i.e. run-ing)
- Dictate root word, have your child build other words by adding prefixes or suffixes.
- Dictate multi-syllable words and have your child divide them into syllables.
Reading Games to Play With Letter Tiles
Memory Match. Print up 2 sets of letter tiles and make a Memory Match game by flipping 2 cards over until you find a match. This game can also be done for upper and lower case letters.
Make a letter book. Print up an extra copy of the letter tiles and have your child cut them out and glue them in a mini-book. They can also illustrate each page with something that begins with that sound.
Play Speed. Print 2 sets (or more – have 1 set per player) of letter tiles on card stock. Each player has a deck facedown in front of them. They say, “1,2, flip!” and then flip a letter tile over. The first one to read the letter name or sound takes both cards. Player with the most tiles wins. Another variation of this game is to have the child give a word that begins (or ends) with the sound on their card.
Clothespin Game. Label a set of inexpensive, Dollar Store clothespins with upper and lower case letters. Have your child clip them to their matching letter tile.
Teaching Tips for Using Letter Tiles
- Work on concepts your child knows but needs more practice with.
- Use a variety of activities.
- Encourage your child to verbally explain their thinking processes while doing the activities.
- Store letter tiles in envelopes or attach velcro or magnets and store on felt or cookie sheets or magnetic dry erase boards.
- After using letter tiles have kids count them to be sure they have all 26 before putting them back in envelope or on cookie sheet.
Where to Get Letter Tiles
- Many Orton-Gillingham reading programs come with letter tiles. Several of these programs are:
- Download a set of free, printable letter tiles, including all of these letter tile activities by filling out the form below:
Printable Letter Tiles
Enter your email address to receive these letter tile activities and 3 different sized sets of printable letter tiles in upper case and lower case with extra vowels And instruction sheet.
Letter Tiles Available From Amazon