45+ Montessori Inspired Sound Games

Sound games have provided lots of practice and repetition with phonemic awareness without it feeling like a chore for my primary homeschool kids! I spent ages researching and learning how to use these games and I want to simplify that process for you!

a pin image that reads Montessori inspired sound games over 45 fun phonics games for prereaders that shows an image of child sitting crosslegged next to a work mat that has a wicker basket on it with language objects in it. opposite the child is a grown-up sitting cross legged with their hand reached out with a small plastic spoon in their palm

Phonemic Awareness and Sounds Games…okay…but HOW?!

When I started my homeschool journey with Bitty, I knew we wanted to use Montessori, but I found a surprising lack of actionable tips for teaching reading. Lots of talk about phonemic awareness, the pink series, and sound games. But what does all that mean…

a pin image that reads montessori soud games that shows an image of a black wooden bowl filled with a variety of language objects, sitting on a green and white rug

What are Sound Games?

Sound games are the foundation of phonemic awareness. They are what help your child hear the sounds in a word before they can start to learn to read. Lots of stress is put on the sound games, but not a lot of great descriptions as to what kinds of sound games to play or how to use them. 

The most common sound game you’ll find recommended and the one that you can find some descriptions of is the ispy game but without a little more information as to how to play, you are left feeling a little lost as to how to use this game as a learning tool. 

The Creation of the Mega List of Montessori Inspired Sound Games

I have spent the better part of a year trying to find variations and extensions to the traditional Montessori sound games as well as learning how to actually play them!

And I’ll be the first to admit. I am not an expert and I am not formally educated as a teacher or guide but I have spent a lot of time researching and compiling this list and trying to make notes so that fellow homeschool moms can find that information without all the work!

We needed more than just ispy

Anything to add a little more variety into our day to keep things interesting and engaging. And to teach different phonological awareness skills. Because beginning sounds is just that just the beginning. There’s so much more to phonological awareness to prepare your child to learn to read.

Trying to find variations and extensions and descriptions of different sound games. Anything to add a little more variety into our day to keep things interesting and engaging. And to teach different phonological awareness skills. Because beginning sounds are just that just the beginning. There’s so much more to phonological awareness to prepare your child to learn to read.

a pin image that reads montessori sound games over 45 ways to play with phonics for prereaders that shows an image of a work mat with a variety of language objects  and a hand holding a small dog toy

Okay, but what is phonemic awareness?

I am no expert and I’m not going to try to pretend that I am an expert. Here is a link that you could check out that will give you much more in-depth information from much more educated people than I.

https://heggerty.org/resources/blog-post/phonological-awareness-and-phonemic-awareness/

Ultimately phonic awareness is the ability to hear different sounds in words

Most commonly, would be beginning sounds, ending sounds, and middle sounds. But you’ve also got things like rhyming, compound words, syllable, and, blends and digraphs

Letter recognition and understanding the symbols that we use to write is an important skill before reading (obviously) but it is not technically part of phonemic awareness. My list will include some activities that practice letter recognition simultaneously with sound games.

FREE printable Mega List of Montessori Inspired Sound Games

a pin image that reads mega list of montessori inspired sound games in a white circle in the center with 4 pictures behind showing the sound games my girls like to play

I want to provide what I wish I could have found when I started my homeschool journey with my kids and that is actionable lists and tips. So, below you can download a printable version of my mega list of Montessori inspired sound games to help you teach your child phonemic awareness while still having fun!

For the sake of my sanity when writing this post I had to split my mega sound games list into parts This is the phonics, and auditory-focused sound games beginning, middle, and ending sounds, rhyming, segmenting, etc some games will use letter symbols, but mostly as a placeholder for sorting, there are a couple of games that require the child to mostly know their letter sounds and the game is more for practice and fluency I will e sharing some letter recognition games with the next part of my series!

How to Use the Mega Sound Games List

One of the cool things about sound games is that one game has multiple levels of skill that can be used to play

Take I spy as an example

It can be a beginner’s game where you only have a couple objects and a couple couple beginner sounds. You can give extremely descriptive clues so that the child has virtually no struggle getting the correct answer and thus building confidence.  

It can be an advanced level game where you have many objects and your referencing not just beginning sounds but mixing in ending sounds in middle sounds and using less descriptive clues

All that to say, many of the games will also have level one, level two, and level three noted. Many of the games also have variations or extensions that are played similarly but have slight differences that can alter the challenge or make them new and exciting again.

Also, there are some games and some skills that are purely just a more advanced skill. Your 3-year-old is ready for beginning sounds. They likely are not ready for rhyming. You can undoubtedly expose them to it. Talk about it. Read lots of rhyming text but don’t expect them to be able to do the rhyming on their own, make sense?! 

Be Careful with Corrections

When playing try not to correct or directly say ‘No that’s not right’. It can shake their confidence and make them not want to play at all. If they have gotten something incorrect. Narrate the problem. “ispyed something starting with /b/, this is a /h/at. /h/. Let’s look for /b/!” Emphasizing the sounds being used!

a pin image that reads montessori inspired sound games play based learning for prereaders with 9 square images showing a variety of games that my children play

Supplies Needed for Sound Games

Disclaimer

This post contains some affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I may receive a small commission from your purchase if you follow my links and decide to purchase. There would be no additional cost to you!

Phonics objects

Many of the sound games will use phonics objects to represent a sound. Phonics objects are simply a collection of small objects

A toy apple for /a/, a tiny button for /b/ a little figure of a cat for /c/

The more variety you have again, the more points of interest for your games. But you are going to want to have at least one phonics object for each beginning sound, you’ll also want things that represent a variety of ending sounds. And phonics objects that represent simple CVC words are best for when you start to practice middle sounds.

I will go into more details about phonics objects in another post but one bit of advice I’ll share now is you can create your own collection over time, with mostly things you already own! Take a deep dive into an old Barbie or Playmobile or Lego collection and you can find lots!

Sandpaper Letters or Flashcards

Some of the games work best with something to see the sound symbol. We most often use our sandpaper letters, but standard flash cards, moveable alphabet or any alphabet shapes will work as long as they are lowercase letters

Manipulatives

A few of the games for segmenting sounds will need manipulatives. All kids like gems, the pop blocks are a fun interactive option as well as non-drying clay to add in a little fine motor work rolling balls

Early Literacy Series

This is the beginning of a series of posts that are going to go into more detail on tips, tricks, and games to play with your preschooler and kindergartener to truly set you up for success for teaching reading.

While we are homeschoolers and we are using them in school, anyone can play these sound games if your child needs and or wants more practice. These are all great options to make sure learning to read stays fun!

Mega List of Montessori Inspired Sound Games

Specific Sounds

ISPY BEGINING SOUNDS

  • Level 1 – You and your child each grab an object While holding the objects in your hands, say, “I spy with my little eye something in Bean’s hand that begins with the sound /d/.”
  • Level 2 – Two- three objects on an empty rug or table. Encourage your child to guess which object you are thinking of –  for example, using a hat, dog, and cup – “I spy with my little eye something that begins with /h./.” “hat”
  • Level 3 – increase the number of objects/sounds. At this time you are ready for lots of the other games and extensions
a pin image that reads Montessori Sound Games ispy that shows a black wooden bowl with a variety of sound objects filling it
Other beginning sound game extensions    
  • Use objects in your immediate environment (table, chair, couch).
  • Use pieces of your child’s clothing, “I spy with my little eye something Bean is wearing that begins with /s/.” “socks.”
  • Collect groups of objects that begin with the same sound and play a sorting game: cat, cork, can/fish, fan, frog/sock, star, spoon ‘I spy with my little eye three objects that start with /c/’
a pin image that reads Montessori Sound Games ispy triple sets that shows a selection of sound objects on a woven tray

SOUND MATCHING game with pairs of objects that have the same beginning sound ‘can you match the two objects that start with /b/?’ – can also be done for ending and middle sounds

a pin image that reads Montessori Sound Games sound matching middle sounds that shows a variety of sound objects for CVC woods on a work mat

SOUND SORTING – Give the child a basket of objects with 3 beginning sounds. Have your child pick them out one by one and say the beginning sound, then place the item with the matching letter symbol. As the child becomes more confident, you can practice more letters at a time.

a pin image that reads Montessori Sound Games sound sorting that shows a work mat laid out with three sandpaper letters at the top and a small wicker basket below filled with a variety of sound objects that match the three sandpaper letters

MYSTERY BOX – place a small selection of objects in a box/bag and have the child pull one out at a time. ‘What did you find?’ ‘a cat!’ ‘What sound does cat start with?’ ‘/c/’ – can also be done with ending, middle and all sounds

a pin image that reads Montessori Sound Games mystery box that shows an image of a wooden tissue box with a purple cloth blocking the opening. a hand is pulling a plastic web out from box

ODD ONE OUT – Choose three objects. Two of the objects have the same beginning sound. For example, cat, cork, and dog – can also be done for ending and middle sounds

a pin image that reads Montessori Sound Games odd one out that shows a work mat with three sound objects in the center and a small wooden box in the top left corner with more sound objects in it

ISPY ENDING SOUNDS

  • Level 1 – placing two objects on the work mat “I spy with my little eye something on our rug that begins with /h/  and ends with /t/.”
  • Level 2 – increase the number of objects/sounds
  • Level 3 – Play by just giving the ending sounds as a clue. “I spy something that ends with /p/”.
a pin image that reads Montessori Sound Games ending sounds ispy that shows an image with a woven tray holding a small selection of sound objects
Other ending sounds game extensions   
  • Use a fixed set of objects that all begin with the same sound and end with different sounds (boat, bag, bin, bed).
  • Set out a group of 6-8 objects/pictures and work through all sounds one by one removing the item after a correct answer

ISPY MIDDLE SOUNDS

  • Level 1 – Place two objects on the work mat “I spy with my little eye something that begins with /b/ and ends with /t/.” Your child responds, “Bat.” You repeat the word slowly, segmenting the sounds, “bat. What sound does bat begin with?” “/b/” “What sound does it end with?” “/t/” Next, say to your child, “Now, what do we hear in the middle?” Say the word slowly to help your child find the middle sound, “/a/.”
  • Level 2 – increase the number of objects/sounds
  • Level 3 – Play by just giving the middle sounds as a clue. (“I spy something that has the middle sound /a/”).
a pin image that reads Montessori Sound Games middle sound ispy with an image of a wooden tray that has some sound objects laid on it
Other middle sound game extensions     
  • Use a fixed set of objects/pictures that all begin and end with the same sounds and contain different middle sounds (boat, bat, bit, bet, boot)

Rhyming

RHYMING THUMBS UP OR DOWN– “Do these things rhyme? Bug and Mug.” Thumbs up “Door and chair” Thumbs down. Could be done purely verbally or with objects

FIND MY RHYME – Select an item and have the child find the object/picture that rhymes.

  • level 1 – limit options to 2 or three rhymes. You select a hat “Let’s find the rhyme for hat” The child only has a cat and a book in front of them to select from
  • level 2 – increase the number of options
  • level 3 – have more than one item they have to find to complete the rhyme. You select the log they have to find the frog and the dog
a pin image that reads Montessori Sound Games fine my thyme level 3 with an image of a hand holding a small dog toy over a work mat that has a variety of sound objects laid on it

RHYMING PAIRS – a selection of objects where two items rhyme. Half of the objects are on the right and the other half on the left with a center space to place the pairs. Start with limited pairs and increase the number as confidence increases.

a pin image that reads Montessori Sound Games rhyming pairs showing an image of a wooden box that is divided into three parts two smaller sections each filled iwth sound objects on either side of the empty larger middle section

I RHYME WITH… – Picture Cards and prompt cards Childs sees the pictures and adult reads “I rhyme with hazy I am a….” Child answers “daisy”

WHAT RHYMES? – “What rhymes with go” child has to pull a word from their own mind “Blow” *this is a challenging skill and takes a fair amount of phonological awareness to do*

Whole Word

I’M THINGING OF…– no need for objects or pictures; Say to your child, “I am thinking of the word ‘ship.’”  “What sound do you hear first?” /sh/  “What do you hear next?” /i/ “What sound do you hear at the end?” /p/

SOUND SPOTS – picture or space for an object with three dots for CVC words place/remove a gem on the dots as you hear the sound in the word.

  • use popper blocks or gems or clay balls to squish
  • eventually want to graduate to counting the sounds on your fingers
a pin image that reads Montessori Sound Games sound spots that shows a series of paper cards with three circles on each( in a red blue red pattern) sitting on the left of each card is a sound object that represents a CVC word below each card is a tri of pop blocks

PAT PADDLE – (red and blue to mimic the vowels and consonants) pat the ground/table with each sound flipping your paddle so the color matches the sound “Did you know you can hear the sounds in a word” “/m/ (red down) /a/ (blue down) /t/ (red down)” provided a basket of CVC objects or pictures to work with

  • a red and blue sided mitten can be a point of interest that can change the game up a bit
a pin image that reads Montessori Sound Games pat paddle that shows a work mat with a  small wooden box filled with objects and a red circle on a wooden stick being held next to a small straw hat sitting on the mat

HOW MANY? – See how many words your child can think of that begin with or contain any one sound. Filling a book or poster or anchor chart can be a motivating way to engage with this game

MASHUP – “lets mash up some sounds” holding your hands up one hand on the right and one on the left. right hand pulses when you say “ra” left hand pulses “coon” “Mash them up” “racoon!”

  • Level 1 – Compound words “/straw/   /berry/   strawberry”
  • Level 2 – Two syllable words “”/kit/ /ten/    kitten”
  • Level 3 – Word families – “/s/ /un/  sun”
    • *start with slidey sounds s m r a f etc
  • Level 4 – Sound slide – using one hand moving left to right, pull a CVC word apart and slide the sounds together slowly and pulse on left middle and right with each sound *need a slidey sound to work sun vs hop

SYLLABLE SORTING – have a mat with 1 & 2  dots and space to place objects or pictures “Let’s sort some words! Place your hand under your chin and let’s say the word ‘baby’. ‘Baby’ /ba/ /by/. How many times did your hand move?’ “2! Then baby has 2 syllables!” place the picture on the mat with 2 dots

  • Level 1 – One and Two syllable words only and a limited number of objects/pictures
  • Level 2 – Use words with more syllables 
a pin image that reads Montessori Sound Games syllable sorting that shows a red mat with 1 dot and a top and Lego door sitting on it and a green mat with two dots with a small pizza and monkey toy sitting on it, as well as a wooden bowl with a variety of other objects in it

GRAB IT SYLLABLE – each player flips over picture cards and the player with the most syllables wins the round

SYLLABLE TAPPING – “Let’s find some syllables! How about we use our names!? Megan. Megan” tap or clap with each syllable and encourage them to clap with you.

Can be done with pop blocks, tapping sticks, hands, or clay balls. This game requires a bit more phonological awareness, when in doubt return their hand to their chin when saying the word.

  • Level 1 – One and Two syllable words only and a limited number of objects/pictures
  • Level 2 – Use words with more syllables
a pin image that reads Montessori Sound Games syllable tapping showing a child sitting cross legged with tapping sticks in front of a tray that has a zipper on it as well as a small basket with a few other small objects in it

SOUND SWITCHING – Sound substitution changing a single sound in a word “Let’s switch a sound and make boy into a new word! hmmm…Let’s change the /b/ to /t/. Let’s see /t/ /oy/ /t/oy/” “/toy/!” *this is another complex skill that requires a lot of phonological awareness before they are able to do it*

  • Level 1 – beginning sounds
  • Level 2 – ending sounds
  • Level 3 – middle sounds

Have Fun and Learn with Sound Games!

Sound games have done wonders for increasing my kindergartener’s phonological awareness and confidence when it comes to letter sounds. They are our favorite way to practice while making it fun!

a pin image taht reads mega lists of Montessori inspired sound games with 10 different images of different sound games you can play with text overlaying each image naming the game

Don’t Forget your Freebie!

Sound games have done wonders for building confidence in my preschooler in her phonemic awareness and I want the same for your primary-aged kids, so don’t forget o download your free copy of my Mega List of Montessori Inspired Sound Games!

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