What to do
- Select 12 picture cards for this activity. Any pictures will do, but note that (i) students may find words beginning with continuous sounds easier than stop sounds at first; (ii) students find words with initial blends—such as frog and star—harder than words without; (ii) some teachers like to begin with sounds for which students have already learned the letter-sound correspondence (so that students are comfortable physically producing the sound); and (iv) it may help not to use too many different sounds at first.
- First make sure students know the names of the pictures by going through the deck, asking students to name the pictures. If they come up with a name other than the one you are looking for, correct them and put the card in a separate pile. Then go through this pile and repeat until students can name all the pictures correctly.
- Lay out 3 picture cards to start the activity. We’ll assume they are pen, ring, and moon, but they can be anything you choose.
- Bring out the puppet. Here’s Mico. Today he wants to play a game with you. He’s going to say a sound, and you have to find the word that begins with the same sound. My turn first. This is pen, ring, moon. Point to each picture card in turn. What’s the sound, Mico? Find the word that starts with /m/. What’s that? /m/ like man. Which word begins with /m/? Moon! Moon begins with /m/: mmmoon.
- Replace the three picture cards with (for example) gate, ant, and lock. Okay, your turn. This is gate, ant, lock. What’s the sound, Mico? Find the word that starts with /a/. What’s that? /a/ like apple. Which word begins with /a/? Students: ant. Right! Ant begins with /a/: aaant.
- Continue with other sets of 3 picture cards. Watch for students who are not responding and give them an individual turn.
- If the activity is too difficult for a student, reduce the number of picture cards to 2 until the student can select the correct picture on 3 consecutive tries. Then increase the set back to 3 cards.
- Once students have mastered the 3-card activity, increase the number of picture cards to 4, then 6, then all 12 pictures, so they are selecting 1 card from 12 on Mico’s direction.
- Make a note in an Activity Log for students who continue to have difficulties.