This is a roundup post all about science of reading-aligned Sound Walls. Easily find all of the information, tips, and resources I have shared for using a Sound Wall in the kindergarten, first, and second-grade classroom.
As we learn more from the science of reading, important instructional shifts are taking place in early elementary classrooms all around the world. One of the big changes we are seeing is a move away from traditional A-Z word walls. Instead, teachers are beginning to use phoneme sound walls.
A lot of you have already made this switch and many more are considering it! I know this because each day I receive smart, thoughtful questions from teachers like you. Those who want to better understand the benefits of using a sound wall, to know how to set it up, and make the most of it!
To help answer some of these questions, I decided to create a roundup post all about Sound Walls. It is a one-stop-shop, the place to come to find all of the resources, information, and tips I have shared for using a sound wall. I’ll answer some commonly asked questions and lead you to other blog posts that will help you learn more!
What is a Sound Wall?
A sound wall is a way to organize and display the different sounds (or phonemes) we hear in speech. Similar to a word wall, a sound wall is a place for students to reference when they are spelling and reading words. But UNLIKE a traditional A-Z word wall, words on a sound wall are grouped by their sounds, not their beginning letter.
Check out the Sound Walls in the Classroom post if you are beginning to learn about using a sound wall. In this post, I share general information about sound walls and discuss their benefits. I explain how they are different from and more effective than traditional A-Z word walls. There is information about consonant sound walls and vowel valleys, how to set them up and why they are organized in a certain way.
How to Set up a Sound Wall
Setting up a sound wall is a big task! It is one I get a lot of great questions about. If you’ve purchased a sound wall and are trying to figure out how to set it up, the How to Set Up a Sound Wall In Your Classroom is for you.
You’ll find information about how much space you need to set up a sound wall. I explain how you can resize the sound cards and suggest what to do if wall space is limited.
That post also introduces you to my NO PREP virtual, interactive sound wall. This is a sound wall that I created on google slides. It allows you to display the sound wall on your SmartBoard, projector, or whatever digital platform you use. You can use it on laptops with small groups or individual students, and even share it with families to use at home! I wrote more about all it offers in the post, A Virtual Sound Wall for the Classroom.
In this video, I recap how to set up a sound wall and provide you with a few MORE helpful tips and tricks on how to implement a sound wall in your classroom!
How to Use A Sound Wall in your Classroom
Maybe you’ve got your sound wall all set but are now wondering, “How do I use this thing?” If this is where you find yourself, the following posts will be helpful.
How to Use A Sound Wall in the Classroom offers a clear, step-by-step guide for how to introduce and use a sound wall in your classroom. It also introduces you to my Phoneme Sound Wall with Mouth Articulation Photos resource. It walks you through each component of the resource and explains how to use each one.
Looking for more detailed, explicit instructions on how to use a sound wall? Then check out the post, A Sound Wall Teacher’s Guide: Lesson Plans and Activities. That’s where I share my Sound Wall Teacher’s Guide. This resource is filled with information, lesson plans, and student activities for your sound wall. The post outlines all that is included in the resource. In the post, you can also grab a FREE sample of the explicit lesson plans and student activities to introduce the 5 short vowel phonemes and graphemes.
This training video is all about how to use a sound wall in your classroom. I discuss the benefits of using a sound wall and explain how to get started. I dive into the importance of choosing and using a research-based phonics scope & sequence to guide your instruction. Finally, I share my explicit sound wall lesson plans and routines that will help make your sound wall part of your daily instruction.
More Ways to Use Your Sound Wall
Research tells us that quality instruction must also include cumulative practice. This means once a student moves forward with a new concept, they must continue to review the skills they’ve already learned.
One highly engaging way to provide students with the review they need for mastery is through cumulative review games. In the post, 4 Sound Wall Games I recommend games you can play with your sound wall, including my resource, Mystery Word Games. Each game offers students explicit, engaging, and multi-sensory phonics practice. These sound wall games require minimal prep from you and your students will love them!
Finally, if you’re looking for even more ways to get students engaging with the sound wall check out the blog post 5 More Ways to Use a Sound Wall in the Classroom. In the post, I share simple instructional routines you can implement, sound wall games, and a special sound wall chant with FREE downloadable lyrics.
I know that implementing a sound wall requires a lot of new learning and hard work. I hope the information and resources I’ve shared today will help answer some of your questions and make your sound wall a powerful teaching and learning tool in your classroom.
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