Saturday, January 24, 2015

Using Beads for Letters, Phonemic Awareness, and Phonics

Hi everyone! Today I want to share with you a simple idea that is low-prep but loads of fun. I've used pipe cleaners to practice sight words, but this year I started using them in a few other ways. 

With my kinders, we use pipe cleaners and letter beads to practice our letters and sounds. I put on letters they know and a letter(s) they are working on. They put the beads on, making the sound or saying the letter name as they do. When they are all on, they practice the letters a few more times by moving the beads. They can mix up the order by taking the beads off and on again. It's like a fluency strip that moves! Ha! You can get letter beads on Amazon (tons of choices here) or at a craft store, like Joannes or Michaels. 
Remember, we want our students to have automaticity with their letter sounds. This activity is great for all kinders, even if they know all of their sounds. This would be a great warmup to your Guided Reading group. Give each student a pipe cleaner with several letters and have them make the sounds as they move the beads. Then they could switch with a buddy and do it again. 

You can also use them when your students are just starting to sound out words. I start with just two beads: a vowel and a consonant. I stretch the vowel sound as I move it toward the consonant. "/aaaaaaaaa/ /t/ Say the consonant sound when the vowel touches it. 

When your kids are ready, add another consonant to make CVC words. Start with just one word family and change up the initial consonant.

Let's back it up a bit! You don't even have to use letters. This is a great way to practice phonemic awareness. Put different color beads on the pipe cleaner. Start with two, then add on the third when your students can proficiently blend two sounds. I love this because your students don't have to know a stinkin' letter to do this activity but it is SO valuable. They need to develop their phonemic awareness! To do this,  you would say a word with two or three sounds: "at" and your students will move the beads as they say the sounds, "/a/ /t/". You can do it the other way, where you point to the beads and say /a/ /t/ and they copy you then blend the sounds to guess the word.

Do you use pipe cleaners? Tell me how you use them! It can be for anything- arts and crafts too. I have an overload of pipe cleaners and I'm itching to use them! :) 

Here's a little page to use for some follow-up in your classroom. :)


  1. This is an awesome post, Sarah! Going to share it with my kindergarten teachers!! Thank you!!

  2. I have a great set of alphabet beads that I use in guided reading and for centers, as well! I bought them many years ago but I still love to use them. They came with sight word cards. Thanks for the worksheet! It will be perfect with my beads! xoxoxo


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