We play many different sound games to help students hear and identify sounds in words, a necessary first step in learning to read. Typically children will first identify the first consonant in a word, then the final, then the medial vowel. As Maria Montessori observed that young children love to play with small items, we use such items to spark interest in the games. One of the first sound games that we play is sorting items by initial sound. We then move on to final sound sorting. Finally we do medial vowel identification, which is the most challenging.
To play the medial vowel sound game, we take two items, such as a map and a pot, and say the name of each one several times, enunciating the medial vowel sound – “maaaaaaaaaap” and “poooooooooot”. We then ask the student to select the item with the “/o/” (short o) sound in the middle. We then ask for the item with the “/a/” (short a) sound in the middle. We then hand the map back to the child and ask, “what sound is in the middle of map?,” then do the same with the pot. This allows the student to hear the sound several times, identify it, and make it. Attention can be drawn to the formation of the sound in the mouth – where the lips, jaw, and tongue are – to help with distinguishing each sound.