What Are Sound Buttons? | A Teacher’s Guide

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Holly (Teach Starter)

Written by Holly (Teach Starter)

Sound buttons are visual cues to help children break up a word into graphemes. Whilst the term ‘sound buttons’ is relatively new, the concept of using visuals to help children segment and blend words has been around for many, many years! You may know it as synthetic phonics. Either way, the use of sound buttons is a proven method for teaching children in the early years how to decode words.

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We have discussed the use of sound buttons before in our blog – What Teachers Should Know About the Science of Reading. In this blog, we were joined by Clare Wood, a Literacy specialist from Tiny Steps Make Big Strides. She spoke about the importance of reconsidering the use of blends and, instead, focus on blending and segmenting words to help children decode unfamiliar words. Using sound buttons is one way that can help children grasp this concept.

And, if you’re looking for some fresh phonics resources to add to your collection of resources – our new Decodabe Sound Button Flashcards are what you’re looking for!

Decodable Sound Button Flashcards

Decodable Sound Buttons for the Classroom

When creating this resource, we wanted to make sure there was a systemic and explicit progression from simple CVC words using the letters – s,a,t,p,i,n to words that contained digraphs and even split digraphs. It’s true that many schools will have a slightly different scope and sequence in terms of the order in which to introduce single letters and sounds. However, we decided to go with a single letter progression that was suggested by Clare. Therefore, the words that are seen in the first group of cards only contain s,a,t,p,i.n.  These are the most common 6 letters that are taught at the beginning of the explicit instruction of sounds in the early years’ classroom.

Does your school teach a slightly different progression? That’s ok – we have created these cards in an editable Microsoft Word template as well. The dots and dashes have been itemised as images. So, you can copy and paste under the words you wish to use on the cards so that it links with your school’s scope and sequence.

Purple Levelled Flashcards

This first group of flashcards contains words that are made up of the letters s,a,t,p,i,n – these are most often the first six letters that are introduced to children in the early years classroom first.

They are all decodable singular letter graphemes as well.

Decodable Sound Button Flashcards

Light Blue Levelled Flashcards

In the next group of flashcards, we have incorporated the letters above with the letters – m,d,g,o,c,k.  Again, mostly cvc words that are made up of singular letter graphemes.

Decodable Sound Button Flashcards

Pink Levelled Flashcards

This next group of flashcards includes the above letters from the first two lists with the letters – e,r,u,b,h,f,l. You’ll notice that these words are also more often a CCVC or CVCC word. So, often a four-letter word with four graphemes.

Decodable Sound Button Flashcards

Dark Blue Levelled Flashcards

Next, we have included the following letters into the mix – j,w,v,x,y,z,q.

Decodable Sound Button Flashcards

Red Levelled Flashcards

The red flashcards now include singular graphemes with the digraph – sh.

Decodable Sound Button Flashcards

Yellow Levelled Flashcards

The yellow flashcards focus on the ‘ch’ digraph grapheme.

Decodable Sound Button Flashcards

Green Levelled Flashcards

The green flashcards focus on the ‘wh’ digraph.

Decodable Sound Button Flashcards

Brown Levelled Flashcards

Finally, our last list of flashcards in this release incorporates the ‘th’ digraph.

Decodable Sound Button Flashcards

The colour coding on the flashcards has been done to make things easier for you! The classroom teacher can easily provide students with cards that are appropriate for their level of knowledge. It’s also a great way to differentiate in the classroom.

Decodable Sound Button Flashcards

How do you help your students with segmenting and blending?
Let us know in the comments of this blog.

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Comments & feedback

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Sarah

This is an amazing resource! I would love to see something like this as part of the widgets where we can make our own words with the same decodable format.

Sarah · Mar 23rd, 2021

Heath Teach Starter

Hi Sarah. Thanks so much for your comment. I know Holly spent a lot of time with Clare working on the blog and then creating the resources with our designer, Carlos, and she’ll be delighted they are proving useful in the classroom. They are really proving popular and I know my own five-year-old loves the time we spend together working through the flashcards. It’s amazing to see the delight she gets from “decoding ” the words and I’ve really seen it help with her reading development. Regarding your awesome widget idea, I’ll make sure to talk it through with Holly and our Resources team to see if it’s feasible.

Heath Teach Starter · Mar 24th, 2021

David Westaway

These look great for younger classes. Do you have plans to extend into long vowel sound like a_e, i_e, etc?

David Westaway · Jan 24th, 2021

Janeen

Hi David

Thanks for your feedback! Please feel free to request a resource at our ‘Request a Resource’ page.

https://www.teachstarter.com/request-a-resource/

Requests are voted on by the Teach Starter community and we create the top requests. Please let me know if you have any further questions, I’m more than happy to help.

Kind regards

Janeen

Janeen · Jan 25th, 2021

Beth Fletcher

Can you please add these for !the extended code? Would love also games and decodable passages that build on a sequential scope and sequence

Beth Fletcher · Jan 24th, 2021

Janeen

Hi Beth

Thanks for your feedback! Please feel free to request a resource at our ‘Request a Resource’ page.

https://www.teachstarter.com/request-a-resource/

Requests are voted on by the Teach Starter community and we create the top requests. Please let me know if you have any further questions, I’m more than happy to help.

Kind regards

Janeen

Janeen · Jan 25th, 2021

Ros Carter

Excellent resource. This will complement class activities very well. thankyou

Ros Carter · Jan 1st, 2021

Janeen

Hi Ros

Thank you for your kind comment! I am so glad you can see the usefulness of this resource and that it will complement your class activities.

Cheers

Janeen

Janeen · Jan 4th, 2021

Sharon Ezzy

Thank you, these should be VERY useful.

Sharon Ezzy · Dec 7th, 2020

Stephanie (Teach Starter)

Thank you for your positive feedback, Sharon! We’re so pleased that our sound buttons will be useful for you and your students.

Stephanie (Teach Starter) · Dec 8th, 2020

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