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  • Teacher Brett

Exploring Sound Walls


In reading instruction, a sound wall is a visual display that shows the various sounds that makeup words in the English language. A sound wall typically includes the letters of the alphabet and the corresponding sounds that they make. It is used as a tool to help students learn to decode words by breaking them down into their individual sounds and blending those sounds together to form the word.

Sound walls are often used in classrooms as a way to introduce and practice phonics, which is a method of teaching reading that focuses on the sounds that individual letters and groups of letters make. By helping students understand the sounds that letters make and how those sounds combine to form words, sound walls can support students as they learn to read and spell.

Sound walls can be a helpful resource for students who are learning to read, especially for those who are struggling with phonics. By providing a visual reference for the sounds that make up words, sound walls can help students connect the sounds they hear to the corresponding letters and improve their reading skills.


What is the difference between Sound Walls and Word Walls?

Reading sound walls and word walls are two different tools that can be used to support students reading skills in the classroom. A sound wall is a visual display that shows the various sounds that makeup words in the English language, and it is used to help students decode words by breaking them down into their individual sounds. A word wall, on the other hand, is a display of vocabulary or high-frequency words that students can reference as they read or work through assignments.

Sound walls can be beneficial for students who are learning to read because they provide a visual reference for the sounds that make up words. By helping students understand the sounds that letters make and how those sounds combine to form words, sound walls can support students as they learn to read and spell.

Word walls, on the other hand, can be helpful for students who are working on building their vocabulary. Sight words that do not follow typical spelling patterns can be placed on a word wall to provide a reference for spelling when writing. Vocabulary words that are encountered in subject areas like math or science can be placed on the wall to reference during content lessons.


Both sound walls and word walls can be valuable tools for supporting students' reading skills, and which one is better will depend on the specific needs and abilities of the students in the classroom. Some classrooms may benefit from using both types of walls, while others may find that one or the other is more useful.


When it comes to Word Walls, exercise caution.

Word walls can be a useful tool for supporting students' reading skills, and they can be especially helpful for building sight word vocabulary. However, they should not be the sole focus of reading instruction, and they should not be used as a substitute for other reading strategies, such as phonics or comprehension skills.


Phonics is a method of teaching reading that focuses on the sounds that individual letters and groups of letters make, and it is an important part of early reading development. By helping students understand the sounds that letters make and how those sounds combine to form words, phonics can support students as they learn to read and spell. Word walls, on the other hand, do not provide this kind of phonetic information, and relying solely on word walls for reading instruction may not provide students with the skills they need to decode unfamiliar words or to understand the underlying structure of the English language.


In addition, reading is not just about recognizing individual words, but also about understanding the meaning of those words in the context of a sentence or a passage. Word walls do not provide information about the meaning of words or how they fit into a larger context, and they should not be used as a substitute for teaching comprehension skills.


Overall, while word walls can be a helpful resource for students who are learning to read, they should not be the sole focus of reading instruction and should be used in conjunction with other strategies, such as phonics and comprehension skills.


How can I use Sound Walls in the classroom?

Here are a few tips for using a sound wall in the classroom to support students reading skills:

  1. Make the sound wall visually appealing: Use colorful letters and clear, easy-to-read font to make the sound wall engaging for students.

  2. Display the sound wall prominently: Place the sound wall in a location where it is easily accessible to students and encourage them to refer to it frequently as they read.

  3. Use the sound wall to teach phonics: Use the sound wall to introduce and practice the different sounds that letters and letter combinations make. Have students say the sounds out loud as they point to the corresponding letters on the sound wall.

  4. Use the sound wall to decode words: Have students use the sound wall to sound out and blend together the sounds in unfamiliar words. Encourage them to use the sound wall as a reference as they read.

  5. Encourage students to use the sound wall independently: As students become more proficient with phonics, encourage them to use the sound wall on their own to decode words as they read.

  6. Keep the sound wall up to date: As students learn new sounds and letter combinations, be sure to add them to the sound wall so that it stays current and relevant to their learning.

Where can I get a Sound Wall?

You can certainly make your own Sound Wall, but there are many products available that are ready to use.


Sound Walls can take many forms, so think about your classroom's physical environment and how you will use it in your classroom. For example, if space is an issue or you are a virtual teacher there are digital or virtual options for sound walls. There are also options for Sound Walls with real mouth or graphic mouth images to help aide in pronunciation.


If you are looking for a free sound wall resource to use in your classroom, you can find one here by Sylph Creatives on Teachers pay Teachers: Free Editable Sound Wall



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