Sound Map: An Early Literacy Tool

My son is almost three and starting to ask a lot about sounds of letters and words in general. What an awesome stage and so exciting to observe him. My favorite letters are the ones that can throw you with their sounds or no sound. The letters C and K happen to be two which my son seems interested in exploring. So we’re off!

Sound Map

Today we’ve been working on a sound map. The basic idea is create a collage of words and/or images beginning with the Letters C and K. On one side of the collage we have the soft ‘SSS’ sound for C like a “circle” and “cinnamon”. On the other side we have the hard ‘Kuh’ sound for K like “kite” and “koala”. In the middle we have those images that overlap in sound like “cupcake”, “crayons” and “cup”.

Here is how we did this activity together:

Sound Map Gather a few magazines and scissors.

We sat on the floor and I told him that we were on a ‘C’ and ‘K’ hunt. He helped to identify and even cut out the images. We also have a first words box, which was a great resource for images we’d already collected for the letters “C” and “K”.

First Words BoxOur First Words Box

Sound MapI wrote a big K and C at the top of a large poster board.

Then we started sorting the images.  I steered us toward focusing on the hard ‘c’ images because that sound and words are most common. I talked about how words that begin with the letter ‘c’ that are followed by an ‘a’, ‘o’ or ‘u’ have a hard ‘c’. Then how words that start with the letter ‘c’ that are followed by an ‘i’, ‘e’ or ‘y’ have a soft ‘c’. We then moved to the hard ‘k’ and then to the soft ‘c’ images.

Sound MapI wrote the name next to each image.

Sound MapI ended with introducing sounds at the end of the word.

This activity was a very hands on and interactive literacy activity. We’ll continue working on and re-visiting this map. Then eventually we will create a “C and S” Sound map and connect it to this poster board. This will give my son a horizontal visual of the sound maps/collages.

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Founder, Publisher, Writer & Editor at Carrots Are Orange, Inc.
Marnie began Carrots Are Orange in 2010 after the birth of her first son. Carrots Are Orange is a Montessori inspired learning and living blog for parents and educators. She hails from Maine, a wonderfully down to earth place to grow up. Marnie moved to the west coast in 1999, currently living east of Seattle with her husband and three young boys. She is pursuing Montessori certification. Her work has been featured on Apartment Therapy, PBS Kids, BabyCenter, the Melissa & Doug blog, and


  1. says

    i really love this idea- my son is 4 and loves to read but beginning sounds are not his cup of tea. I think this activity may help him wrap his brain around it better. thanks for sharing.

  2. says

    Fabulous! Love your first words box. Has given me lots of ideas of things we could do with something similar! My daughter (who was 3 in Jan) is also at that stage and wants to know all about letters, sounds and words. We have a letter book (just a large scrapbook) where each of the letters has a double page spread and we do similar type activities in there. Making the sound board showing the similar (and different) sounds the letters can make is a lovely idea. Debs :)
    Debs – Learn with Play recently posted…Early Literacy Ideas. 5 Easy and Fun ways to encourage your PreschoolerMy Profile

  3. says

    I absolutely love this!! What a great way to work on sounds and on overlapping sounds when two letters make the same sound sometimes and sometimes don’t. My 2 1/2 already sometimes says K when we’re talking about something that is a hard c, like cat. So, I will definitely be pulling this activity out when he gets a bit older and is wanting to explore letters and sounds even more.
    Jen Fischer recently posted…Weekly Kids Co-Op: Mexican Cookie Rings, Celebrating Cinco De MayoMy Profile

  4. says

    I do something like this with my kindergarten kids every year. It’s alot of fun and the kids really get into it. So much fun! Thanks for sharing!

  5. says

    My twins are Colin and Kate, so I LOVE this particular example of the activity. I can’t wait to try it. I found this while searching for activities to include in a newsletter for The Learning Groove, a music and movement curriculum for young kids founded by Eric Litwin, the author of the first 4 Pete the Cat picture books.

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