Sound Walls For Phonics Instruction 

Hey, y'all. All the buzz about the "science of reading" is enough to make a tired teachers' had spin, am I right?  You know it. 

There's a lot of talk about ditching the old word walls and swapping it out for a sound wall. What's the difference? Well, sound walls help new readers make sense of phonics and the phonemes they hear when they are sounding out words. It's much easier for students to categorize the sounds and learn new spelling patterns when using a sound wall than with a traditional word wall.


When setting up your sound wall, it makes sense to separate the consonants and the vowels. The bulletin board starts off blank at the beginning of the year, and as we introduce sounds, we add the sound card and words that follow that spelling pattern. I write the words on an index card or sentence strip and use a different colored marker (usually red) to write the sound we're focusing on and leave the rest of the letters black. Then, I put the word with the matching sound under the picture. 

Some words can go in more than one place. For instance, "pig" could go under the p, the g, or the short i sound. You can add as many words as you want to under each picture card. Just follow the lead of your students and what they need to see and practice. 


The vowel bulletin board is set up in a V shape and is sometimes called a vowel valley. This is because of the shape of your mouth as you say each sound. Your mouth is more closed when you say the long e and long u sounds than when you say the short o sound. Picture cards for mouth formation of each sound are also included but not shown. 

You could have your students decide which of the picture cards match each sound and add them as you add the phoneme cards. Or you could take pictures of each of your students saying the sounds and add the pictures of your students to the sound wall. The latter is my plan for the upcoming school year. 


I also want to make sure my students have access to the sound wall at home and in their phonics notebooks, so I made a smaller, personal-sized sound wall for students' notebooks and folders. It's a one page printable (with color or black and white options) that can be hole-punched for folders or cut in half for notebooks. That way, students can use their sound wall anywhere they are. 


My plan this year is to have students add words and spellings to their sound wall in their phonics notebooks making it an easy reference point. 

You can check the sound wall in my Teachers Pay Teachers store here. It also pairs nicely with the phonics notebook if I do say so myself. 

Anyway, I hope you found this useful. I'm always adding new resources to my TPT store so check back frequently and follow my store for the most up to date ideas. I hope you have a wonderful, relaxing week and I'll talk to you soon.

Stay cozy,