DIY Montessori Sound Pouches: Learn Phonics the Fun Way

Montessori sound pouches have to be at the top of my list of favorite Montessori materials. Why? Because kids love them too! In my experience, sound pouches can be a game changer in building interest in learning phonics, or the sounds that letters of the alphabet make.

Really, this material is like 26 bags of surprises, just waiting to be opened and explored! No wonder kids like it.

On the other hand, this material is so versatile and useful long beyond learning the letter sounds. So, if you’re wondering if you should bother taking the time to make Montessori sound pouches, I say go for it.

In this post, I’ll show you how I’ve made my sound pouches, what sort of items I’ve included in them and a few ways you can use them.

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How to Make Your Own Montessori Sound Pouches

There are many ways to do sound pouches. Some people go for a set of drawers, but I’m partial to the excitement and interest a bag adds. It’s not the same to pull items out of a pouch as pull out a drawer. Somehow the pouch seems more mysterious to me. But, I must say a set of drawers is also very practical.

I made my sound pouches out of old jeans. Yay for recycling! I just eyeballed the cuts, glued the sides with silicon glue (I don’t have a sewing machine – otherwise that would be a more secure option) and added a small loop of yarn to the top left-hand side. I wrote each letter in lowercase on the front of the bag.

As far as our set up, we hung just a board along the wall at a child-friendly height. Then, I measured out 26 spots and put a thumbtack in each spot. Under each thumbtack, I wrote the corresponding letter so that each pouch has a home. This adds another element of practice, as when the kids are done using a pouch, they need to find its home.

What to Put in Your Montessori Sound Pouches

So, what’s inside? Small items that begin with the letter sound on the pouch. This is fairly straightforward, except with a few of the vowels. When teaching phonics, the idea is to teach the most common sounds each letter makes first, and then teach exceptions later. That means you teach that “e” makes the sound you hear in “egg” first, and then later teaching how it can also make the sound heard in “eagle”, or can even be silent.

Here are some items that I put in our sound pouches. From the list you’ll also get the basic idea of what pronunciation each letter should have.

a- apple, ant, alligator

b- ball, basket, bee

c- cat, car, cow

d – dog, dinosaur, dragon

e – elephant, envelope, egg

f – fish, frog, flower

g – grapes, goose, grass

h – horse, hat, hamburger

i – iguana, India, igloo

j – jar, jingles, jaguar

k – kite, keys, kangaroo

l – lion, leaf, lemon

m – monkey, mouse, marble



n – napkin, nail, nest

o – octopus, owl, orange

p – plate, pencil, penguin

q – queen, quilt, quail

r – rice, rock, rattle

s – snake, square, starfish

t – tiger, turtle, tape

u – umbrella, underwear, umpire

v – violin, velcro, vest

x – box, ax, fox

y – yellow, yarn, yoyo

z – zipper, zig zag, zoo

How to Use Sound Pouches: Activity Guidelines

There are plenty of ways to use sound pouches. I’ll start out with 3 basic activities you can do with your own sound pouches:

Presenting Sound Pouches

At first, all you need to do is present each sound pouch, only one at a time. This is great to combine with sandpaper letters if you have them. We recently bought a cheap set (not the traditional beautiful Montessori type, but they are sandpaper nevertheless) that are really great for basic homeschooling needs.

If you have sandpaper letters, start out by getting out one sandpaper letter and the corresponding sound pouch. Slowly trace the sandpaper letter and say it’s sound at the end. Repeat two or three times. Invite your child to try.

Then, explain that you’re going to look at some items that start with the sound (if you’re doing the “s” you’d say “Now we’ll look at some things that start with the sound ssss”). Allow your child to remove the objects one by one, saying each object as it’s removed. After your child has had a chance to explore the objects, return them to the bag, again saying each object’s name (emphasizing the “ssss” sound). Then say, “All of these items started with the sound “ssss”. Invite your child to put the sound pouch away. Continue with a few other sound pouches if your child is interested. Try to keep the number of new pouches to a maximum of 3 or 4 so that your child can really learn each letter sound.



Repeat this activity with the same sound pouches until your child seems to recognize each letter sound. You can test how well your child knows the sounds this using sandpaper letters and a three-period lesson.

Mixing Sound Pouches

Items from the sound pouches “r” “s” and “k” rock, kite, starfish, rice, square, keys, kangaroo, rattle and snake

After your little one is comfortable with two or three sounds, use the pouches together! In the above image, you can see the items from three different sound pouches (r, s and k) all mixed up. This is what you’ll start with. Then, place the pouches at the opposite end of the room, like so:

 

Then, ask your child to find an item starting with one of the letter sounds. Invite your child to run and place the object on top of the correct sound pouch. Continue instructing until all of the items have been sorted.

I find this game is perfect for Peanut when he’s feeling active. We practice our sounds and he runs back and forth giggling, sorting the objects.

I recommend starting with just 2 pouches and building as your child’s confidence in the letter sounds increases.

Writing

Another activity with the sound pouches is writing the names of the items. As your child becomes confident in their letter sounds, you can remove some objects from the sound pouches. Then, invite your child to write each object’s name. You can use a moveable alphabet, magnet letters, or even sandpaper letters instead of writing with a pencil and paper. Alternatively, use a rice or salt tray for writing out the words. Start with easy items like “cat” or “dog”. These CVC (consonant – vowel – consonant) words are ideal for beginning spellers because they are easy to sound out.

So, that’s the basic overview of sound pouches! I hope you are now inspired to create your own set and explore the letter sounds with your child. Of course, it’s best if you combine these activities with other Montessori language materials and activities and ABC work.

Do you have another fun way to use sound pouches? Tell me about it in the comments below!

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