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FREE Sound Wall Resources

Sound Walls are much more than colorful bulletin boards or replacements for Word Walls. For students who struggle with making the phoneme (speech sound) to grapheme (print) connection, Sound Walls can be essential tools.

What’s preventing students from learning the phonemes (speech sounds) making the phoneme to grapheme (spelling) connection? Often, it’s inaccurate or inconsistent recognition and production of the speech sounds. After all, if you can’t say ’em, you can’t read ’em and you certainly can’t spell ’em.

Many teachers who have recognized this problem assume that another dose of Heggerty, Barton, or others with phonemic awareness programs (I also have PA drills in my reading intervention programs) will do the trick, but this is not always the solution for all of your students. Practicing  phonemic isolation, segmenting, substitution, manipulation, reversals, etc., may not solve the problem if students do not know proper mouth formation and speech articulation. In the past, reading specialists and intervention teachers would refer students who lack these reading prerequisites to speech therapists, and this may indeed be necessary. But, with proper coaching, reading teachers can certainly assist most of their students who can’t recognize and produce speech sounds properly.

One  important tool that teachers are using to help students learn or re-learn the speech sounds is the instructional Sound Wall. Sound walls consist of the 43-45 phoneme-grapheme cards posted on the classroom wall and organized into two sections: vowels and consonants. Here are the digital sound walls I use in my reading intervention programs (Yes, I’m providing them to you free at the end of this article. And, yes, you can print out the components and create your own Sound Wall in dazzling colors):

Vowel Valley and Consonant Sounds Sound Walls

Vowel Valley

Consonant Sounds

The different phonemes associated with vowels are arranged in a “valley” formation on the wall that looks like the opening of the mouth that happens when the vowel sounds are spoken. Vowel sounds produce unobstructed air flow through the mouth, unlike consonants.

The consonants, organized by “manners of articulation” proposed by Dr. Louisa Moats (2020) are posted as follows:

● Stops – airflow is completely obstructed by the lips
● Nasals – airflow is obstructed in the mouth, but released through the nose
● Affricates – begins as a stop, but ends as a fricative
● Fricatives – air flows, but friction is created by small separations between articulators
● Glides – no friction in the airflow, but changes in sound are produced by the placement of the tongue and lips
● Liquids – the tongue creates a partial closure in the mouth that redirects airflow

Sound-Spelling Cards

Animal Cards

Phoneme-Grapheme (Sound-Spelling) Card Components

Sounds: Sound-spelling cards include sound symbols, indicated by slanted lines. For example, /k/ and /r/. Note that the sounds are not the same as the alphabetic letters. The “c” as in card has the /k/ sound, not a /c/ sound. In my reading intervention programs, I include audio files on each digital card.

Pictures: The phoneme-grapheme cards usually feature a picture which has a name that emphasizes the focus sound. The picture acts as a mnemonic to cement the phoneme-grapheme relationship for students.

Many teachers help students memorize the name of the card i.e., the picture, when introducing the sound indicated on the card. In my reading intervention programs, I teach animal chants, because all of my cards all feature non-juvenile animal photograph. A typical chant would be as follows:





Spellings: The common sound-spellings are also featured on the cards.  The spellings include blanks to indicate their location within words and to help students select appropriate spellings. For example, if a student is spelling the word, betray, the “ai_” spelling choice would be eliminated from consideration, because the blank indicates that “ai” cannot end a syllable. The “_ay” would be a more informed selection.

FREE Sound Wall Animal Cards

Get the colorful phoneme-grapheme Animal Cards to help students connect phonemes to graphemes and learn proper mouth formation and speech articulation. Plus, I’ve added the 108 most common Heart Word Cards to practice and add to your Sound Wall. Heart words include an irregular sound-spelling i.e. “the part you have to learn by heart.” Note the audio function only works in the reading intervention programs detailed below.

FREE Sound Wall Songs to Teach Proper Mouth Formation and Speech Articulation

To help students remember how to position and move the mouth, I’ve created songs which explain the mouth formations and sound production. The Vowel Valley Chant includes this music, the Animal Chants, and the Vowel Valley graphic representations for each of type of  vowel. The Consonant Sounds Chant also includes this music, the Animal Chants, and the consonant “manners of articulation” graphic representations for each of type of  consonant. 23 minutes of 12 silly, but memorable songs, along with 45 Animal Cards to practice the sounds and spellings for each card. Did I say they are FREE for classroom use. Please don’t post ’em online.

FREE Personal Sound Wall Printables

Get the FREE Sound Wall Printables Resource:

To add to the traditional vowel valley and consonant sounds wall cards, I would suggest adding separate graphic representations of the sound-print subsections for individual students. I provide 13 Sound Wall Printables in my reading intervention programs, such as in the Fricatives graphic below.

Fricatives: Personal Sound Wall

These “personal sound walls” consist of separate short vowels, long vowels, digraphs, diphthongs, r-controlled vowels, organized in the classic Vowel Valley configuration.  Additionally, I suggest separate graphic representations of the consonant “manners of articulation” (see Dr. Moats’ organization above). My reading intervention programs detailed below include two versions of the Personal Sound Walls: Google slides (with fill-in text boxes and audio files) and printable PDFs to print and laminate. With the laminated copies, students can use dry erase markers to write word examples, erase, and practice again. Download the FREE Personal Sound Wall Printables, print on 11 x 17 paper, laminate, and practice!

Mouth Formation and Movement: A unique feature of the posted sound wall cards and “personal sound walls” is that they also include images (photographs or graphics) of mouths articulating the different phonemes, so that students can make the connection between what a phoneme sounds like and how their mouths are formed and move when they are saying that phoneme.

Teachers may choose to have a mirror nearby so that students may see their own mouths while using the sound wall.


Thank you for reading my article and, perhaps, using my resources. I’m Mark Pennington, MA reading specialist and author of the following intervention programs for grades 4-adult students.

Intervention Program Science of Reading

The Science of Reading Intervention Program

The Science of Reading Intervention Program: Word Recognition includes explicit, scripted instruction and practice with the 5 Daily Google Slide Activities every reading intervention student needs: 1. Phonemic Awareness and Morphology 2. Blending, Segmenting, and Spelling 3. Sounds and Spellings (including handwriting) 4. Heart Words Practice 5. Sam and Friends Phonics Books (decodables). Plus, digital and printable sound wall cards and speech articulation songs. Print versions are available for all activities. First Half of the Year Program (55 minutes-per-day, 18 weeks)

The Science of Reading Intervention Program: Language Comprehension resources are designed for students who have completed the word recognition program or have demonstrated basic mastery of the alphabetic code and can read with some degree of fluency. The program features the 5 Weekly Language Comprehension Activities: 1. Background Knowledge Mentor Texts 2. Academic Language, Greek and Latin Morphology, Figures of Speech, Connotations, Multiple Meaning Words 3. Syntax in Reading 4. Reading Comprehension Strategies 5. Literacy Knowledge (Narrative and Expository). Second Half of the Year Program (30 minutes-per-day, 18 weeks)

The Science of Reading Intervention Program: Assessment-based Instruction provides diagnostically-based “second chance” instructional resources. The program includes 13 comprehensive assessments and matching instructional resources to fill in the yet-to-be-mastered gaps in phonemic awareness, alphabetic awareness, phonics, fluency (with YouTube modeled readings), Heart Words and Phonics Games, spelling patterns, grammar, usage, and mechanics, syllabication and morphology, executive function shills. Second Half of the Year Program (25 minutes-per-day, 18 weeks)

The Science of Reading Intervention Program BUNDLE  includes all 3 program components for the comprehensive, state-of-the-art (and science) grades 4-adult full-year program. Scripted, easy-to-teach, no prep, no need for time-consuming (albeit valuable) LETRS training or O-G certification… Learn as you teach and get results NOW for your students. Print to speech with plenty of speech to print instructional components.

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  1. Ismeal khalil
    October 3rd, 2021 at 08:55 | #1

    This method of teaching English whatever their ages with pictures showing articulations of sound are very important it help me to teach pronunciations tks in advance to this website and best regards

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