Learn what works

The alphabetic principle is the notion that graphemes (letters) in words may stand for specific phonemes (sounds of spoken words). English, like many other languages, is based on the alphabetic principle.

Children’s knowledge of letter names and shapes is a strong predictor of their success in learning to read. Knowing letter names is strongly related to children’s ability to remember the forms of written words and their ability to treat words as sequences of letters (Texas Education Agency, 2002).

Alphabetic Principle instruction should include the following:

  • Explicit instruction in letter-sound relationships.
  • Opportunities for students to practice letter-sound relationships in daily lessons.
  • Practice that includes new letter-sound relationships, as well as reviewing previously taught letter-sound relationships.
  • Opportunities are offered early and often to apply students’ expanding knowledge of letter-sound relationships to the reading of phonetically spelled words that are familiar in meaning.

See how it works

Action Phonics Activity
Suggested Scope and Sequence of Phonics Elements
Grade Level Accomplishments in Phonics: K-2 (Every Child Reads)
Sample Planning Guide (letter m)
Sample Planning Guide (sh sound)
Alphabet Mat Game Activity (Every Child Reads)

Check out the DVD, Every Child Reads Unit 6: Phonics, from the Central Rivers AEA lending library to see demonstrations of phonics lessons.

Do what works

Activities to Reinforce Letter Knowledge
Planning Template (Letter-Sound Correspondence)


  • Beck, I.L. (2005). Making Sense of Phonics: The Hows and Whys. New York: Guilford Press.
  • Iowa Department of Education (2005). Every Child Reads.
  • Texas Education Agency (2002). The Alphabetic Principle. http://www.readingrockets.org/article/3408