The Alphabet Chart: 3 Common Flaws


As my kids started singing the ABC song around the house, and my older one began putting together letters and the sounds they make, I decided it was high time I get an alphabet poster for our playroom. One would think this would be a relatively easy task, but looking closely, there were three seemingly insignificant flaws that I consistently saw. And in my experience, these flaws cause some confusion among those trying to properly master their sounds. So, what should you look for in a really great alphabet chart?

X is not for xylophone…or x-ray. How many times have you seen an alphabet chart where x is for xylophone or x-ray? Once, I even saw a chart that gave x-mas as an example. Guess what? Those words don’t actually make the sound /x/. Instead, look for charts that use words like box or fox. Even if the word doesn’t begin with the letter x, these words model the sound more appropriately, which is what students need as a reference. Rarely — if ever — will you find a word that starts with x that truly makes the sound /x/ (“cks”). Most often, the words you see that begin with the letter x make the sound /z/ (as in xylophone), or just says the letter x as in x-ray. All this said, I still make a point of showing students (and discussing with my kids), words that begin with x because I think it’s a worthwhile phonics discussion.

Words with a beginning long vowel sound. Raise your hand if you’ve seen ice cream for the letter i. Technically, this isn’t wrong. Ice cream does start with the letter i, and i does in fact make the /i/ sound, but only if we’re talking about long vowel i. Why is this important? When vowels say their name, they make the long vowel sound. Like ice cream, or unicorn. It’s often differentiating between short vowel sounds that is a more challenging phonics task, making insect or igloo for the letter i, and umbrella for the letter u, better choices for a chart. Of course it’s important to teach a selection of words that start with the same letter, but for the sake of making the most of the space on an alphabet chart, I’d suggest sticking with the short vowel words.

Words that start with blends or digraphs. Shoe starts with the letter s, but it doesn’t make a true /s/ sound. Sun would be a better example. The same goes for an digraph or blend. The word example for a letter should have a single letter sound.

What does your alphabet chart look like, and are these issues that you have encountered? If you’d like to take a look at the chart I created, hop on over to my TpT shop.

Thanks for stopping by,