Our Mission in Action

Sounds in Motion

Kindergarten Teachers Alisa Soriano and Aiyana Parker
This year, the Early Childhood classes have implemented a new phonemic awareness program called Sounds in Motion. Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear a sound in a word while phonics is the ability to attach the sound to a written letter, which is what the program builds up to. This initiative came out of research we did examining established best practices in teaching literacy skills to young children.
Created by speech and language pathologist Frances Santore, the program matches certain full-body movements with the tongue, throat, and mouth movements used in the articulation of sounds. This not only helps familiarize students with phonetic spelling, but down the line also helps improve articulation, vocabulary, auditory memory, and other early literacy skills, laying a solid foundation for later work in reading and writing.

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Combining individual sounds in language with specific body movements strengthens your child’s retention and understanding of word parts and sounds. Through Sounds in Motion, we introduce students to activities that involve breaking words into syllables, rhyming, following directions, and auditory sequencing. It adds a kinesthetic (whole body) dimension to our reading approach and trains children how to become better listeners. 
Click gif to see full video with sound.
We begin the year with a lesson on “Whole Body Listening” where the children identify which parts of their body they use to listen -- not only the ears but also the eyes, mouth, hands, feet, legs, back, brain, and heart. The explicit teaching of active listening skills is an important part of our learning community and plays a lifelong role in the process of communication. This kind of multisensory engagement in reading creates multiple pathways for the learning to take hold in the body. We begin each lesson by teaching the individual motions that are attached to particular sounds. The focus is on the sound, not the letter, because in English some letters can make multiple sounds and certain sounds can be made by multiple letters (e.g.: the “g” sound in gift vs. giraffe; the letter “c” can make a /s/ sound or /k/ sound).
Every session includes: a review of the body movements for previously taught phonemes (the sounds that can be put together to make words); an introduction of movements for new phonemes; a practice time for combining these movements with those previously learned in order to create syllables and words; a specific listening activity; and, a language activity in the form of a story or rhyme.
With this program, the whole-body engagement gives students a sense of freedom and fun that encourages them to take risks when spelling new words. The children become confident in their ability to spell because they can actually “hear the sounds.” Having a classroom full of risk-takers has had profound implications on our learning community. Teachers report that every child participates--even the shy ones as well as those who have to work a little harder to internalize literacy concepts! Children are happy, invested, and engaged. But don’t take our word for it: here’s what they have to say!
“I like Sounds in Motion, because when I do the sounds, it helps me sound out words. This morning I had a problem because I was trying to spell ‘gills,’ like on a fish. But then I used the motions and I felt like ‘yay!’”
“You get to learn sounds, and you get to spell, and you get to exercise.”
“I like Sounds in Motion because it’s fun to move your whole body and it’s helpful for learning. I like it.”
“I like Sounds in Motion because it’s good for your brain and body to learn how to spell words.”
“It helps us learn letters and sounds and that helps you to be smart because you can learn how to read and write. I wish the whole school could do it.”
 Click gif to see full video with sound.
Little Red School House
and Elisabeth Irwin High School

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