C: The Sound of Letters

These activities are also available in Romanianro_ro and Dutch .

Goal:  learn to recognize the sound of letters.

C1: Guess The Sound Or Letter

Goal: learn to recognize the different sounds of letters.

Needed: pieces of paper or cardboard with letters written on them.


  1. Give each person a piece of paper or cardboard with a letter on it. If it is a large group, divide into several smaller teams and give each team a letter.
  2. Have each person or team think of something that begins with the sound of their letter + a way to act out that word. For example, with the letter ‘s’ they can think of:
  • ‘sling’: act as if ones arm were in a sling OR pretend to shoot a slingshot
  • ‘scooter’: pretend to ride a scooter, with appropriate noises
  • ‘snake’: move like a snake on the floor or move ones hand and arm like a snake;
  • ‘sleep’: pretend to be asleep.

Help them with this if necessary.

  1. If the group has been divided into several teams, people can discuss in their own team how they want to represent the sound of their letter. If necessary, encourage them to listen to each other.
  2. At an agreed signal, everyone in team will act out their sound or letter. They might do that in many different ways at the same time. The others have to guess which letter it is.
  3. Continue the game until each person or team has had a turn, or until the group is no longer focused on the activity.

Variation 1: Divide the group into several teams and give each team a letter. First have them think of at least four things that begin with the sound of that letter; they also have to figure out how to show or act out these things. Then one team acts out its letter in one of those four ways; the others have to guess which letter it is. If they can’t guess, the first team chooses one of the other things they’ve come up with beforehand, and acts it out, etc. Give 4 points for guessing it the first time; 3 points for guessing it the 2nd time; 2 points for guessing it on the third; and 1 point for guessing it on the fourth way. Once the first team’s letter is guessed, another team can act out their word, etc. .

Variation 2: Start as in Variation 1, but the people of the team all act out their letter at the same time, and all in the same way rather than all at once in different ways (see #4 above). The other teams have to guess what it is. If the letter of the first team is guessed, another team can act out its letter. This variation can work especially well if the people find it too confusing if the letter is depicted in different ways at the same time.

C2: Write Down The Sound

 Goal: learn to recognize the way various sounds are written. Think in particular of sounds that are written with a combination of different letters or where diacritics are used.

Background: In many languages, letter combinations or diacritics are used to represent certain sounds. For example, in English, ‘sh’ represents a different sound than simply an ‘s’, and ‘sch’ represents another sound. This must be taught and practiced.

Needed: at least as many pieces of thick paper or thin cardboard as there are members of the group; make sure the pieces of paper are all the same size. You will also need: pencils or pens, old magazines if possible, glue or tape.


  1. Choose a sound that is written with a certain letter combination or that requires a diacritical mark. Write this large on a board or in another place where it can be clearly seen. Discuss these letters and the sound they represent. Think of words that start with this sound. Modify the exercise if the sound occurs only at the end of words, or only in the middle.
  2. Then write only one of the letters from the letter combination on the board and pronounce that letter so that the people know which sound it represents on its own. Together think of words that contain that sound.
  3. Hand out the pieces of cardboard or paper; explain that they will be used as cards. Divide the group into an even number of teams. In one half of the teams, everyone writes the letter combination on a card. In the other teams, everyone writes down one letter from that combination. There should be one card per person. Next, each team looks through the magazines for pictures of things which use the sound of that letter combination or that single letter belongs. Cut out and glue those pictures on the cards, being careful to not cover up the letter or letter combination. If necessary, help each group find suitable images and with cutting and pasting. Another option would be for people to draw something that goes with the sound of that letter combination or letter rather than cutting and pasting.
  4. When the whole group has finished this, see if they did well and praise them for it. Please correct any errors, in a friendly manner.
  5. Save these cards for next time.

Note: Repeat the game another time with different sounds, until a whole deck of cards is made. Use it to play different games (see C3 and C4).

C3: Remember the Sound

Goal: same as C2.

Needed: the cards made in C2.


  1. Play ‘Memory’ with the cards. Go over the corresponding sound of each card with the group, let them actively participate. Then place all of the cards face down on a flat surface.
  2. Let the people take turns turning over two cards. Have them say aloud the sound associated with the object on the card. Is the sound the same on both cards? Then it’s a match; the person may keep the cards. If not, the cards must be put back, face down.
  3. Continue around the group until everyone has had at least one turn.

Variation: This game can also be played in teams. Members of a team take turns turning over two cards. The team with the highest number of correct matches wins.

C4: Take the Cards

Goal: repeat and practice the sound associated with certain letter combinations, compared to the sound associated with the individual letters in that combination. You can also do this with regular letters on the one hand and letters with a diacritical mark on the other.

Needed: the cards made in C4; at least 20 cards are needed, but the more the better.


  1. This game works best with up to five players. Divide a larger group into two-to-five different teams.
  2. If necessary, review with the group the sounds associated with various letters and letter combinations and how they are spelled. Use all available cards from the game for this.
  3. Mix up all of the cards, face down, and deal the cards out equally the players or teams. Explain that the aim is to collect as many cards as possible; whoever has the most cards at the end wins.
  4. Each player places one of their cards face up on the table. Then he says the sound of the word on the card.
  5. If that card shows a combination of letters or a diacritical mark, the player may take all the cards that are face up on the table and place them face down at the bottom of his stack of cards. If the cards laid out contain only individual letters, the player must leave them on the table until the next round.
  6. In this round, all players again each put a card on the table. If someone has a letter combination, he may take all the cards that are face up on the table.
  7. If more than one player has taken a letter combination, the players with a letter combination must each lay down another card. Repeat, if necessary, until only one person lays down a card with a letter combination. This person may take all the cards that are on the table.
  8. Determine in advance how long the game will last, or continue until one player (or team) runs out of cards. The person or team with the largest deck of cards gets first place. Congratulate everyone else for participating in the game as well.

Note: Not everyone likes to have winners and losers. Discuss this with the group, possibly in advance. Do people “win” this game because they are good at it? Or because they happened to be dealt the right cards? Or did everyone “win” because they learned to better recognize the sound associated with each letter or combination of letters?