In this post, I discuss the benefits of using a sound wall in the classroom and share details about my Virtual Sound Wall with Mouth Photos, Audio and Personal Sound Wall Folders resource designed for kindergarten, first, and second grade teachers and students.
As I’ve been studying and learning all I can about the science of reading and working to shift my instruction and resources to a structured literacy approach, one of the most important things I’ve discovered is how using sound wall in the classroom can help students grow as readers and writers.
There are many benefits to using sound walls in the classroom. For one, sound walls are based on the science of reading! Research tells us that readers make the connection between print patterns and phonological information that is already stored in the brain in order to then make meaning of the word they’re reading (Moats, 2010). This is why explicitly teaching phonemes is necessary before you teach sound-letter correspondence.
Secondly, sound walls approach things from the learners’ point of view. On a traditional A-Z word wall, words are categorized by the first letter. But that doesn’t make sense to someone who is just learning to spell! A student looking for the word phone will not naturally look to P. Putting the word knee under K is confusing to them! A sound wall categorizes words by their sounds which makes much more sense to the learner!
Finally, sound walls allow for explicit instruction of the 44 phonemes in English. Kids learn to talk well before they learn to read or write. This is because the human brain is hardwired for oral language, but not for reading and writing. Students need direct and explicit instruction on how to read, write, and spell. A sound wall is a tool that allows for this valuable, explicit phonics instruction.
It’s fair to say I have become a BIG fan of sound walls. I have written about how to use them in the classroom, created a sound wall teacher’s guide with explicit lesson plans, and even created games students can play with the sound wall. But I do still recognize there are some constraints to having a physical sound wall in the classroom.
For one, they are large and can take up a lot of wall space. I know not every classroom has the space needed for a sound wall and vowel valley. And while I offered up ideas for ways to make smaller and mobile sound walls, I recognize it is nice to have it displayed largely so students can all view it from their seats.
Secondly, sound walls can take a lot of time to prepare. They require a lot of cutting, measuring, laminating, etc. There was really no getting around that….until now!
My Virtual Sound Wall Resource
I truly believe that sound walls are powerful instructional tools. I want them to be something that all k-2 teachers and students can have access to, so I decided to create an interactive, VIRTUAL SOUND WALL!
This sound wall has all the components you’ll need to easily and clearly introduce each phoneme to your students with NO PREP work required! I created the sound wall on google slides so you can display it 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!
There are 2 different versions of the consonant sound wall. One is organized by manner of articulation, while the other is organized by manner AND place of articulation. Pick which one works best for your students!
Each phoneme has a mouth articulation photo to help students see exactly how the sound is formed, as well as an audio clip for students to hear the sound pronounced properly. While helpful for all children, this component is particularly helpful for classrooms where students and teachers are wearing masks.
There are editable locks and text boxes for creating word lists with your students. However, the rest of the components on the virtual sound wall are NOT editable. Sound cards, mouth photos, and all other headings and graphics are locked down in this resource. Rest assured your students cannot delete anything or move anything around!
This resource also includes PRINTABLE student materials. You’ll get printable student sound walls and vowel valleys and the Maker Your Own Sound Wall activity.
This virtual sound wall is a perfect addition to a physical sound wall. But please note, if you own the physical sound wall this virtual version has been added to the bundle, please download it again to get this free update! Now you have more ways you can interact with your sound wall!
Curious to learn more? This video takes a closer look at the resource and walks you through all the components that are included!
A sound wall is an amazing tool that can help students make connections between print patterns and phonological information. I hope that this virtual sound wall resource will make it easier for more classrooms, teachers and students to benefit from their effectiveness!
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