Once the learners are accustomed to identifying individual sounds, they have to learn to identify their symbols and what letters they stand for.
What is a Grapheme?
A grapheme is a letter or a number of letters that represent a sound (phoneme) in a word. Another way to explain it is to say that a grapheme is a letter or letters that spell a sound in a word. A grapheme is the visual representation of the phonic sound.
Some written scripts are simple in which 1 letter usually represents 1 sound. These letters and their corresponding sounds are consistent and transparent. For this reason, languages like Italian or Spanish are easy to read. English has a complex code in which 1-4 letter graphemes can represent 1 sound.
Here is an example of a 1 letter grapheme: c a t. The sounds /k/ is represented by the letter ‘c’.
Here is an example of a 2 letter grapheme: l ea f. The sound /ee/ is represented by by the letters ‘e a’.
Here is a 3 letter grapheme: n igh t. The sound /ie/ is represented by the letters ‘i g h’.
Here is a 4 letter grapheme: th r ough. The sound /oo/ is represented by the letters ‘o u g h’.
Some sounds (phonemes) can be spelled by different graphemes (spellings) e.g.:
-the sound /k/ can be spelled ‘c, k or ck’
-the sound /ee/ can be spelled ‘ee, ea, ie, ei, e, e-e, etc’
Some graphemes (spellings) can represent different sounds (phonemes) e.g. the letter can spell:
/a/ in ‘apple’
/o/ in ‘want’
/ar/ in ‘fast’
/ae/ in ‘table’
/e/ in any etc.
Here’s an introductory video for the teachers to understand graphemes in a better way:
Strategies that can be used
This audio visual clip has a detailed sound and symbol recognition through alphabets itself as animated characters. This can be played in the beginning of the class as an introduction to graphemes.
The next step would be to teach the learners individual sound symbols. This activity should be done by drawing the symbol on the board and train them to draw it in front of their eyes using their fingers. They can also note all the symbols in their notebooks. Though emphasis should be laid equally on the symbol and the sound it corresponds to.
This could be an important video where the shape of the mouth is clearly visible while uttering the sound. The learners can watch this video and the class can practice along with the teacher.
To begin with, let us take up simpler C-V-C words i.e. Consonant –Vowel-Consonant sounds.
Here’s a link to a musical video that can be used in order to introduce C-V-C words to the students. C-V-C words can be denoted by actions done by a teacher on his/her arm. For example, /d/ /o/ /g/- dog will be represented by pointing out to shoulder /d/, arm /o/ and palm /g/. Then point out to the entire hand and say the word- dog.
a) Word Spinners:
A very simple game can be played using materials that are easily available at home. Spinners are a fun way of learning graphemes and acts as a task based activity for the young learners. Also, they are simple to make.
Trace a circle on a colored card paper and divide each circle into 8-10 parts (depending on the diameter of your circle). Now write letter symbols, one in every part and attach a spinning arrow by poking a hole in the middle of the circle. You could use multiple circles for as many letters as you desire. A picture demonstration is as follows:
How to play Word Spinners?
The teacher can place the word spinner on the table and ask the learner to attentively listen to the produced sound. Then the learner will rotate the spinner to point out to the correct letter symbol. You can repeat this for multiple sounds.
This game can be played the other way round too, where the learner utters the correct phonic sound for the letter that the teacher points the spinner too. This game could be played by dividing the classroom in two groups and whichever team gives the maximum correct responses, wins. While playing this game as a team, do not at any point discourage the losing team. In fact, you can give them more chances and declare that the entire class excels at the game
Pick the Ball
Picking the ball is another task based activity to learning graphemes. All the teacher needs is ping-pong balls and a marker pen. Write the letter symbols, one on each ball and put all the balls in an open basket. The teacher can play this game with 2-3 learners at a time, where he/she utters the phonic sound and the learner finds the appropriate ball. Once the correct ball is picked, the learner must repeat uttering the sound with the teacher.
Another way of playing the same game is where the teacher picks the ball and the learners identify the sound and utter it loudly.
Let’s add some more fun to Pick the Ball game!
The teacher can add a little twist to this game by using plastic cups. Every cup should have a symbol written on it and all the cups should be arranged on the table. Now the teacher randomly picks a ball and gives it to the student. The learner has to recognize the letter symbol written on the ball, utter it loudly and drop it in the appropriate plastic glass which has the same symbol written on it. This task-based activity is very exciting at the same time gives a lot of scope for practice.
You can also try
- Letter Sound Awareness Game
This game is by Kiz Phonics and is called Letter sound Awareness Game. It is very colorful and has interesting graphics which are attractive to the learners.
Short A Photoshoot
This is another online game which will help the learners practice sounds with the help of images. Although, ensure that you play this game only towards the end of the lesson when they have practiced enough with other activities. This is a game which requires a slightly higher level of comprehension.
Flash cards can also work very well with young learners. It creates eagerness among them if played individually. A sample has been provided below, but you can use your creativity and make it more colorful. The placard can have the letter symbol in bold alphabets. It can also have images of objects that begin with the same phonic sound. For example, /a/ and apple.
How do we use it?
The usage is pretty simplistic. Raise the flashcard with the letter symbol and make the learners utter the word. You could cover the letter symbol and just show the image to see if the learners are able to identify the object and its sound. Make the learners draw the symbol using their index finger in front of their eyes.
How to use it?
Using the phonic chart is very easy. The chart should be posted at a strategic location in the classroom where all the students can see it. The teacher can practice with the students in multiple ways. He/she can point out the letter symbol and ask the learner to pronounce it. Or point out at the image and identify the object and then its sound. Keep this activity interactive and make sure the entire class participates in it.