Strategies To Develop Letter Names, Letter Sounds, and Phoneme Segmenting

The English alphabet consists of 26 letters each with a specific sound that students need to learn as part of their initial introduction to reading. There are also combinations of letters that make unique sounds. The smallest unit of sound that distinguishes one word from another is referred to as a phoneme. The kindergartener’s journey to effective communication is paved with many learning ABCmilestones which are laid on a solid foundation of early literacy skills. Many students enter kindergarten with some knowledge of letter names and sounds. The kindergarten teacher is faced with a myriad of options and strategies to help students along their journey. Cain (2010) highlights that the two components of reading which are word recognition and text comprehension, present challenges to young learners as they figure out how to decode the printed words and make sense of the text.

Many children are introduced to letter names in preschool in the form of songs or rhymes. It is usually one of the first literacy building blocks introduced. Knowledge of letter names is crucial to the kindergartener’s journey to reading. Johnson & Keier (2010) suggests that an introduction to letter names and sounds could begin with a familiar thing like the student’s name. Students feel a sense of accomplishment when they are able to recognize and eventually print their name.  There is a direct connection between learning letter names and sounds. If a child has difficulty identifying the letter names they will struggle with letter sounds and eventually identifying words. Hulme & Snowling (2013), suggests that student’s mastery of alphabetic principle gives them self-teaching strategy where they can sound out words by decoding each letter. Although not entirely enough on its own, the knowledge of letter names and sounds is an important building block. Hulme & Snowling purports that phoneme awareness and letter knowledge are closely linked to learning to read. Teachers employ creative and engaging strategies to strengthen letter name and sound skills.

Songs with actions are a great way to introduce letter names and sounds to young children. The actions associated with the movements helps students to make direct connections.

Jolly Phonics Complete A-Z

Tips for Teaching Letters and Sounds (Reading Mama)

ABC Alphabet Song with Sounds for Children

Phonological awareness is the broad umbrella term that defines the sound system of language. Students become phonologically aware by exposure to a rich language environment. Machado (2010), suggests that phonological awareness skills are predictive of a child’s ease in learning to read. Machado mentions skill-building activities such as emphasizing beginning letter sound in words, rhyming, segmenting morphemes and syllables in words, critical listening, among other activities which are useful in helping students to become phonologically aware.

Phoneme Segmenting

Machado (2010) defines a phoneme as the ‘smallest unit of sound that distinguishes one utterance from another.’ There are approximately 44 phonemes in the English language that are combined to form syllables and words. Phoneme segmenting is the ability of the student to break words into individual sounds. Students who develop phoneme awareness can identify the individual sounds that make up a word. For example, the word /p/ /i/ /g/ has three phonemes. The student can break the word apart by slowly sounding out each phoneme in the word. Students use segmentation skills to detect beginning, middle and ending sounds in words. This skill, once fully developed, helps students on their journey to becoming proficient readers. In kindergarten, the goal is to help students to develop phonemic awareness as they strengthen their reading skills. Harris (2017) suggests that without phonemic awareness, students will struggle to reach their goal of reading proficiency.

Fun With Phoneme Segmentation

Games are a fun way to help students develop phoneme segmenting skills. In kindergarten, students benefit from an environment that is engaging and where they are involved. It is helpful to emphasize to students that while trying to segment words according to sound, spelling is not the focus. Remember the English language has words that are hidden. If students feel pressured to get spellings correct, they might be more reluctant to engage in segmenting activities. A focus on spelling can be delayed for another stage of their reading development.

Blending and Segmenting Games by Reading Rockets

4 Strategies to Improve Phoneme Manipulation by Top Notch Teaching

  • Sound Deletion
  • Sound Substitution
  • Silly Sound Games
  • Change the Sound

Teaching Phoneme Segmentation

In a Nutshell

Letter names, letter sounds, and phoneme segmentation are fundamental building blocks for early literacy skills. It is necessary for teachers to develop a program that provides opportunities for students to develop these skills as they work hard at becoming effective communicators. The teacher examines a number of factors when determining the rate at which names and sounds are introduced. In addition, strategies used will be highly dependent on the learner’s needs. The aim is to navigate a number of options to find one that works. Incidentally, what works with one group of students might just need to be tweaked when applying to a new group. Literacy skills are developed along a continuum and the teacher needs to pace learning as students are guided along their learning trajectory.



Cain, K. (2010). Reading Development and Difficulties: Introduction to The Study of Reading. (Ch. 1, p. 8.)Toronto: Wiley.

Chard, D., & Dickson, S. (1999). Phonological Awareness: Instructional and Assessment Guidelines.  (CHARD LINK

Harris, D. (2017). Kindergarten teacher knowledge of phonemic awareness and instruction: Developing proficient early readers. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences, 77(11-A(E)).

Hulme, C., Bowyer-Crane, C., Carroll, J., Duff, F., & Snowling, M. (2012). The causal role of phoneme awareness and letter-sound knowledge in learning to read: Combining intervention studies with mediation analyses.Psychological Science, 23(6), 572-577. doi:10.1177/0956797611435921

Hulme, C., & Snowling, M. J. (2013). Learning to read: What we know and what we need to understand better. Child Development Perspectives, 7(1), 1-5. doi:10.1111/cdep.12005

Johnson, P., & Keier, K. (2010). Catching readers before they fall: Supporting readers who struggle, K-4. Portland, Me: Stenhouse Publishers.

Machado. J. (2009). Early Childhood Experiences in Language Arts. Early Literacy, 9th Edition. Cengage Learning.


Innovation in Teaching and Learning Course Reflection (Module 5)

Definition of Philosophical Thinking

Philosophical thinking embraces an open-minded view of the world and a willingness to engage in conversations that challenge one’s belief. One who thinks philosophically is constantly open to change and adapting to new ways of thinking or approaching a given task. As an educator, thinking philosophically means that I am willing to embrace the uniqueness of each child and will not use a ‘one size fits all’ approach when planning for their learning. There will be a willingness to invest time and effort to navigate several strategies and applying the appropriate one to meet the needs of the students. I will understand that each child learns differently and ensure that the learning environment appeals to the different learning styles. Thinking philosophically means I must embrace change, I seek to remain current and engage in lifelong learning.

What future role do you see for your own philosophical thinking within your professional context?

My philosophy is that ‘Every child can learn, just not at the same pace.’ I have made a deliberate switch from teaching high school to kindergarten. It is a switch that has come with several challenges and a willingness to engage in learning that will prepare me to plan for their development. I have engaged in several professional learning opportunities focused on the primary learner. I see my future role as one that involves planning and delivering training courses on classroom strategies to address different learning styles. I will also be involved in creating classroom materials to support foundation skills, such as phonological awareness, in the primary learner. I strongly believe that every child needs a solid foundation on which to build as they move from one stage to the next. It is a great opportunity to be part of the team of facilitators to help build that solid foundation. My role involves extensive planning and creating of resources to facilitate their growth.

What learning from this course have you found most valuable?

The course readings were informative and presented great material for reflection. A number of materials presented information that was new to me and presented an argument for history in education. I appreciated being able to focus on my own philosophy of teaching and thinking about how this plays out in the classroom. Providing initial and revised definitions in context for the key terms: innovation, creativity, teaching, and learning, was beneficial. Most importantly, I appreciated a look at history and how to incorporate it in the classroom and engage students in conversations that address lessons from the past and being able to apply it to planning for the future. Our children are faced with so many negative experiences in the real world, the course readings encouraged me as an educator to be the voice of hope where hope seems to be fading.

Please indicate two ways in which you think that you can be innovative and or/creative in your future professional activities.

My present classroom engagement is at the kindergarten level. I think it is important for me to be innovative and creative to inspire these young learners and help them to develop their own skills and talents. One way I can be creative is in planning the learning environment for students. The kindergarten program is play-based and hence, it requires some creativity to ensure that the learning is embedded in the play. Creativity and innovation must be the highlight of the environment whether indoor or outdoor.

Secondly, I would love to be able to incorporate some form of history in my kindergarten program. Students in my kindergarten classroom this year have a passion for reading. They constantly want me to read stories during circle time. I can use this love of reading to introduce stories with a historical message that we can discuss engage in various activities. My challenge will be to find the right books and pose the right questions to get students to speak openly.

Overall, I have enjoyed the collaborative nature of the course and being able to connect with educators from various contexts.  I appreciated being able to reflect on my philosophy of teaching and the many opportunities to get and provide feedback to course participants.


A Philosophy of Practice (Module 4)

A philosophy serves as an underlying core message that drives one’s practice. In the classroom, it is important for every teacher to develop a philosophy that guides his or her interaction with learners. Each learner is unique, therefore, the teacher’s philosophy should embrace the uniqueness of the child and a willingness to create the environment that inspires learning.



The classroom is a place where dreams are nurtured, inspiration drives creativity and mistakes are opportunities to learn and grow. I believe the learning environment caters to all learners and every child can make a connection that allows him or her to feel safe, appreciated and valued. I embrace an open mindset that believes every child can learn, no matter their challenges, just not at the same pace as their peers. My role is to remain current, open to change and ready to guide learners along their own learning trajectory.

It is never a ‘one size fits all’ in the classroom. I believe each learner is unique and my ultimate goal is to connect with each learner and find the right strategy that will help him or her to advance to the next stage of their learning journey. At the end of the day, I believe that my encounter with every child should inspire hope and belief that greatness can be achieved despite any challenge they might be facing.


‘Every child can learn, just not at the same pace.’

Questions/Food for Thought

Teachers have a tremendous responsibility to help shape the lives of young learners, inspire hope and prepare them for life. How do we continue to help students make connections to the past and use the lessons learned to drive them forward? How do we help them to remain hopeful in a society that so often crushes their dreams and aspirations? They will be the decision makers of the future, therefore we must help them to develop solid foundations that they can build on as they move along their learning trajectory.

Innovation in Teaching and Learning (Module 3)

Philosophical Foundations of Teaching and Learning

It is interesting that Christou (2012), suggests that philosophers are ‘lovers and nurturers of wisdom.’ It is the core of what we do as we engage learners at every stage of their development. Teaching and learning have evolved over the years and much of what we engage in is rooted in history. The curriculum guides the process and gives teachers a framework in which to operate. Even though teachers exist in a system built on standardization and rigid processes and procedures, there is a place for the teacher to connect the important historical elements within the classroom as they prepare and inspire students as critical thinkers. One’s core philosophy will drive the type of teaching and learning experience that students engage in.

How does the teacher infuse creativity and innovation with a historical lens? Does it require a sound grasp of traditional history or simply engaging students and helping them to acquire knowledge of the past and use lessons for inspiration? Christou suggests that philosophical mindedness has at its core some aspect of critical reflection. It is important that teachers embrace philosophical mindedness. Christou warns that philosophical mindedness “demands an ongoing, heroic scrutinizing of our personal, institutional, and collective pedagogical beliefs.” We must not only be agents of change but ourselves be willing to be part of the change process. The classical philosopher, according to Christou, is one who loves wisdom, and who is willing to facilitate the birth of ideas. This birthing is nestled in a classroom that promotes creativity and innovation.


In trying to inspire creativity and innovation, how does the teacher who is guided by curriculum and standards find a balance where students can truly be exploratory in their learning while operating within boundaries?

Teaching as Contemplative Professional Practicemeditation-1054234_640

Falkenberg (2012), provides a personal experience of mindfulness meditation to set the stage for his defense of teaching as a contemplative practice. Mindfulness has become much more popular in the classroom and seen as a tool to help students to focus and redirect their attention to a particular task. Mindfulness improves awareness and, to some extent, reduces anxiety. How can this mindful meditation impact teaching and learning? Personally, I find that even at the kindergarten level, moments of mindful meditation help to calm students and gets them to a place that prepares their minds for learning. We do mindful meditation twice per week and it is amazing how calm and relaxed they become, especially after the lunch break.

Falkenberg suggests that it is important for teachers to notice and name behaviours. He speaks about teachers taking time to notice the behaviours that are undesirable and also to think about an acceptable response. The goal is to develop automaticity in responding to varying situations as they arise. Teaching as a contemplative practice is a valid discussion since we are bombarded with so many issues that can distract us from our main purpose of getting children the support they need while we maintain a personal life balance.

Philosophy of Teaching and Learning

Article 1 – Moral Education in an Age of Globalization

Moral education focuses on helping students develop character traits that are acceptable as they form interactions and relationships. The question might be asked, have we become a more caring society? How do we show that care as we interact with our fellow human beings? Canada is a country that is multi-cultural. We are expected to live in communities with people that do not necessarily share our values and beliefs. However, care is cross-cultural. In every society, there is a need to help young people develop and show care. Noddings (2010) stressed that as teachers, we must model appropriate behavior to guide our students. In the case of the bully, Noddings informs that we tend to place ourselves on the side of the victim. However, he implores us to show care for both the victim and the perpetrator. He suggests that the perpetrator’s moral development is at stake. How do we help him or her to become a more caring individual who will reflect on his actions and make better choices? My question for the author would be:  In a society where more adults in powerful positions seem to have become less caring and demonstrate their aggression towards each other in unacceptable ways, how can we help our students to understand that it is not a ‘do as I say and not as I do’ situation?

Article 2 – Transforming Moral Education

moral educationMorality in education puts all stakeholders in a place where we can be non-judgemental in our relationships. True morality means we are tolerant and treat each other as humans. Students come into the school setting with their own biases, mostly from the influence of their home or close community. In the school community, encounters are made every day that sometimes conflicts with their own sense of belief or purpose. Martin (1987), explores many arguments for morality in education today. Martin likened the student’s position in making a moral decision, to that of a judge who has to be impartial when making a decision. The suggestion is that the student, when faced with a situation needs to ‘view cases of moral conflict from the outside’. This is not necessarily easy to do, especially when loyalty to friendship is so important to our students. However, as teachers, we model the type of behaviour that we expect our students to exhibit and give them opportunities to practice. The author mentioned the challenge of replacing the judging model with models of thinking and reasoning when educators design programs that the future requires. The question is, how can we maintain that balance of the judging model in a society where values and morals seem to be changing so rapidly?

Reflection and Questions

An introspective reflection on one’s own values is center thought when looking at moral education. It is extremely important as teachers seek to guide learners to make critical decisions in their daily encounters. How do we model appropriate responses in situations that we personally find conflicting to our personal beliefs?

The school needs to be a place where all students feel a sense of belonging. In Canada, our schools often promote issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion. There is an inclusive approach to teaching and learning and the message of ‘no child left behind’ is at the forefront of our planning for their learning. This approach sets the stage for a great discussion on morality in education. We see the need to be nonjudgemental as we prepare ALL students for the future.


Christou, T., & Bullock, S. (2012). The Case for Philosophical Mindedness. Philosophical Inquiry in Education, 20(1), 14-23. Retrieved from

Falkenberg, T. (2012). Teaching as Contemplative Professional Practice. Philosophical Inquiry in Education, 20(2), 25-35. Retrieved from

Martin, J. R. (1987). Transforming moral education. Journal of Moral Education, 16(3), 204-213. doi:10.1080/0305724870160305

Noddings, N. e. (2010). Moral education in an age of globalization. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 42(4), 390-396. doi:10.1111/j.1469-5812.2008.00487.x

Historical Foundations of Teaching and Learning

Historical Thinking

History has often served as a point of reference as we advance, looking back at experiences that have shaped our present state of being. Seixas & Peck (2004) suggests that the role of history  in education is to give students a basis on which to “make sense of their lives.”  How are we helping students to connect their learning to past experiences? How do we help them to look critically at the curriculum when given traces and accounts of the past? Seixas & Peck argues that the past shapes everything we do. In light of that, a deeper understanding of the term learning helps us to embrace the concept that learning is a lifelong process. We gather information from the past and use it to shape our future.

Creativity and innovation also have historical connections. Whereas creativity presents a unique idea or product and innovation builds on what already exists, they both have some historical links. Creators and innovators often look at past inventions for inspiration or direction. Seixas & Peck suggests that we use the past as “basis for inferences.” While we may not get full accounts, the traces of the past offer “a starting point to reconstruct what happened and why and what it all means.”

Werner (2008), talks about teaching for hope and suggests that without hope there is no incentive for learning. The students in our classrooms today will be the leaders of tomorrow. It is very important that we inspire hope. In society today, there so much happening that can discourage the learners we encounter. In spite of the challenges we see around, the seeds of hope must be planted. Werner emphasizes that teachers foster the students’ creative envisioning of desirable futures. He stresses that ‘youth need to theorize about possibilities.’’ It is in this context that we examine how we have approached teaching in the 21st century when compared with the past. Historical thinking helps the teacher to guide learners to think critically as they become the problem solvers of the future. Werner advices that “anyone who is a teacher is necessarily an optimist. Our working with young people represents a commitment to the future.”

How do we balance the conversations we have with students about world problems or issues, both past and present, as we strengthen their sense of hope for the future?

History in Education

History is the study of events in the past. Within the classroom, history plays a very important role in how teachers guide learners. Students need to be able to make some connection with the past, even as we exist and prepare for the future. Kliebard (unknown) suggests that “historical awareness will keep us from repeating only a relative handful of that infinitude of mistakes.”  We have often promoted the growth mindset and a willingness to take risks in the classroom. With this in mind, we can appreciate the mistakes of the past that have lead to great inventions of today. Consequently, we find innovative ways to present an old concept. Innovation exists in the historical context.

Cuban (2001) suggests that there is some benefit to be gained from a scholarly look at the past and “methods historians have used.” Creativity suggests presentation of a new concept or idea. Even if a concept is new, creators often refer to past inventions for inspiration. In the classroom, we seek to promote creative thinking and problem-solving. Teachers use history in education as a means of inspiring students to become great inventors and critical thinkers. Cuban goes on to suggest that policymakers find some merit in historical methods and solutions to similar problems that they face. A look at how it was approached in the past will help to guide thinking and process.

Teaching and learning have evolved and the 21st century, the focus has shifted to teachers facilitating growth and emphasizing areas such as collaboration, critical thinking and problem-solving. History has a part to play as we inspire critical thinkers. Many great inventions of the past have inspired learners to, themselves become pioneers in various fields of endeavours. Although Cuban warns against interpreting history and using it to guide policy, it serves as a point of reference for today’s issues. The question is, how can we as educators encourage students to develop an appreciation for history in the classroom and to look critically at issues that provide relevance in today’s context?

Reflection and Additional Questions

The question on the role of history in education is a pertinent one. The resources consulted while working on this post have provided some food for thought as we examine the historical foundations of teaching. As teachers, the question remains; how much of history is a deliberate part of the planning process? Also, how do we help students to make important connections to the past and use the lessons learnt to inform their thinking and perspectives?


Cuban, L. (2001). Can historians help school reformers? [Review of the books The Failed Promise of the American High School 1890-1995 by D. L. Angus & J. E. Mirel, Moral Education in America: Schools and the Shaping of Character from Colonial Times to the Present by B. E. McClellan, & Schooled to Work: Vocationalism and the American Curriculum, 1876-1946 by H. M. Kliebard]. Curriculum Inquiry, 31(4), 453–467. doi: 10.1111/1467-873X.t01-1-00207

Kliebard, H. M. (Unknown). Why history of education in teacher education? Unpublished manuscript, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI.
Lagemann, E. C. (1989). The plural worlds of educational research. History of Education Quarterly, 29(2), 185–214.

Werner, W. (2008). Teaching for hope. In R. Case & P. Clark (Eds.), The anthology of social studies, volume 2: Issues and strategies for secondary teachers (pp. 193–197). Vancouver: Pacific Educational Press.

Seixas, P., & Peck, C. (2004). Teaching historical thinking. In A. Sears & I. Wright (Eds.), Challenges and prospects for Canadian social studies (pp. 109 – 117). Vancouver: Pacific Educational Press.

Executive Book Summary

Mindsets in the Classroom (Mary Cay Ricci)

Building a Culture of Success and Student Achievement in Schools

titleMindsets in the Classroom presents the reader with much food for thought redefining how students learn. It references research on the malleability of the brain and encourages teachers who engage with learners to adopt the growth mindset that will influence how the learning environment is created for learners to thrive. Not only does Ricci present information, but useful resources are provided for teachers and administrators to use as the practical application of a growth mindset is purported. All stakeholders in the learning journey are addressed, as the author recognizes the community approach that must be taken towards the achievement of learning for all.

Video Overview – Mindsets in the Classroom


Growth mindset positive self-thought:


Students must understand that intelligence is constantly changing based on effort, persistence and motivation. (Ricci 2013)


Ricci, M. (2013). Mindsets in the Classroom: Prufrock Press Inc.

Curriculum Design

Planning, Instruction, and Assessment

Curriculum design involves the arrangement of the curriculum and connecting all the parts showing how they interrelate. The presentation below provides tips for planning, instruction, and assessment in each of the following design frameworks:

  • Learner Centred Design
  • Subject Centred Design
  • Problem Centred Design