Playing Store to Learn Letter Sounds

A simple imaginitive activity to teach alphabet letters and the sounds they make.

By Gary Kosman and Grace Chiu

Try out this activity with your child if he is just learning alphabet letters and the sounds they make. This activity will help him recognize his letter sounds through imaginative play with you.

You only need these simple materials for your letter sound activity:

STEP 1. Set up your store.

You don't need elaborate props to play, just a great imagination. For example, a table or a large
box can serve as a checkout stand, a bookcase can serve as a store shelf, and the stores' goods
can even be invisible.

STEP 2: Tell your child that youd like to play store with him.

You can say, "Charlie, let's play store for a little bit. We can pretend to work at our favorite
store and sell anything you'd like. Who should be the customer first? Who should run the cash
register first?"

STEP 3: As you're playing, suggest to your child that you sell only things that begin with a certain letter sound.

Say, "Hey, I have an idea! Why dont we sell things that begin with the same letter sound?
What letter sound should we choose?"

Let's say your child chooses the /b/ sound. Then say, "A /b/ sound [make the sound, don't say the
letter]? What letter is that? That's right, its the letter B! Do you know what B looks like?" If your child doesn't know how to write the letter B, model it for him.

STEP 4: Once you and your child have chosen a letter sound, draw pictures of things a store can sell that start with that letter.

After coloring, you can cut out the pictures and use them to buy and sell. So for a store where everything starts with the /b/ sound, you could have pictures of things such as boots, balls, berries, blankets, and brushes.

STEP 5: By engaging in imaginative play, you have an opportunity to invite your child to practice speaking in a context that is both meaningful and fun.

In addition to the above steps, use this activity to engage your child in conversations at your store:

"Hello. How are you today?"
"What is your name? My name is..."
"I would like to buy a blanket. What kind of blankets do you have?"
"Goodbye. See you later."

Gary Kosman and Grace Chiu are the authors of Bonding While Learning: Activities to Grow Your Relationship While Preparing for Reading Success, which provides practical activities to share with toddlers and preschoolers. This activity is copyright protected; it is reprinted on our site with permission of the author.