What Is SATPIN: How to Teach Letter Sounds With These 6 Letters

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Updated | 3 min read

Many teachers are familiar with the term SATPIN, but if you’re trying to build up your options for teaching letter sounds to your early learners, these six letters are about to be your new best friend!

What Does SATPIN Stand For?

SATPIN refers to the first six letters that many phonics programs begin with when introducing initial sounds to children.

Why those sounds, you may ask? Well, that combination of letters yields the most words and has 2 continuous sounds to get students started with word building. Continuous sounds are sounds that can be made for multiple seconds. Such as, ‘sssss’ for /s/ and ‘nnnn’ for /n/.

Once students have a greater understanding of these first initial graphemes and phonemes, your students will be able to decode many basic words, which in turn, provides a confidence boost for little readers!

How to Teach Letter Sounds

Why don’t you just teach the sounds in alphabetical order?

This is a question that gets asked a lot, and it’s no surprise! Children often begin school singing the alphabet, or reading literature about letters in alphabetical order, so why not go with what they know? Many early years teachers will not teach the letters and sounds in alphabetical order.

There are many reasons why, but one, in particular, is that introducing initial phonemes to students in alphabetical order can in fact make it more difficult for them as they will often revert back to letter name rather than the sound it makes.

The order you teach the initial sounds in will depend on your school and the phonics program that is used – however, the most common 6 letters to begin with are s,a,t,p,i, and n. Here’s a suggestion for the rest of the sequence – m,d,g,o,c,k,e,r,u,b,h,f,l,j,w,v,x,y,z,q. It’s important to note that some programs will often incorporate some digraphs into the mix towards the end of this sequence as well.

How to Teach Beginning Letter Sounds

When teaching beginning sounds – I would often teach a letter a day! Starting with s, a, t, p, i, and then n. Others may do a letter every couple of days. This all really depends on the varying levels of knowledge in your class. I would introduce and speak about the letter and sound through literature. As well as this, I would provide visuals in the classroom (only once I had introduced the students to that letter/sound). I found having all of the letters up before introducing the individual letter and sound was too overwhelming for the students in my classes.

These letter posters for the classroom are the perfect visual for your students to begin your display.

alphabet posters for the classroom

More alphabet activities:

Image of What's Missing? - Alphabet Worksheet

teaching resource

What's Missing? - Alphabet Worksheet

A set of worksheets to practice writing the letters of the alphabet in order.

Teach Starter Publishing1 pageGrades: PK - 1
Image of Alphabet Display Poster

teaching resource

Alphabet Display Poster

A bright and colorful poster to display when introducing the letters of the alphabet.

Teach Starter Publishing1 pageGrades: PK - 1
Image of Alphabet Slap

teaching resource

Alphabet Slap

A fun game for letter, consonant, and vowel recognition.

Teach Starter Publishing16 pagesGrades: PK - 1

SATPIN Activities

Reinforce your students’ knowledge of SATPIN with these super engaging and fun activities for little learners.

Initial Sound and Letter Matching

This SATPIN Frog and Lily Pads activity will have your students identify the initial sound of each of the pictures and place each picture onto the correct lily pad. Each frog has a letter on its tummy! The best thing about this resource is you can change it up to differentiate it for different students or groups of students. If you only want to focus on one or two letters you can just provide the chosen lily pad and pictures for those letters.

SATPIN activitiy for kids

Letter Recognition Activity

This collection of Color by Letter (SATPIN) worksheets are perfect to reinforce your students’ recognition of all six letters. Students follow the guidelines to color each of the cute images in a certain color.

Decoding Simple SATPIN Words

Once your students have a solid understanding of these letters, you can begin to talk about using their understanding of these phonemes to decode simple words. Our first group of sound button cards is the perfect addition to the classroom. This is a collection of words that use either s, a, t, p, i, and n!

To read more about sound button cards – read up on What are Sound Buttons? | A Teacher’s Guide.

Sound button cards for the classroom

Here are some more alphabet activities you can incorporate into your phonics lessons once more letters have been taught:

Looking for more activities? Read our blog – 20 Fun and Engaging Alphabet Activities for Kids.


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