Playing with Sounds


Activity Description

Children will distinguish sounds by playing a speech sound game.


20-25 min.

Key Outcome(s)

Distinguish speech sounds from non-speech sounds.

Materials and Preparation

Prep Time

10-15 min.


  • We provide: ‘Letter cards’: m, t, o; ‘Body parts cards’: teeth, lips, tongue, throat; ‘Modelling letter cards’: m, t, o; ‘Modelling body parts cards’: teeth, lips, tongue, throat. Click HERE to download.
  • You find: Handheld mirrors (optional)


  1. Print and cut out desired size of the ‘letter cards’ and the ‘body parts cards’ (one set of each).
  2. Locate handheld mirrors if you would like the children to watch themselves as they practice making the sounds.

The Activity

What will we learn?

“Today we are going to make sounds with our breath, throat, and mouth to see if they are sounds we make when we talk or sounds we make when we make a noise.”

What do we know?

  1. “Let’s point to some body parts. Can you point to your throat? Lips? Tongue? Teeth? Nose?”
  2. “Where is the roof of your mouth?” Assist as needed. “It has a special name! It is called a palate. Now let’s point to a body part that is hidden: your voice box!” Indicate that it is inside the front of our throats.
  3. “All of these body parts help us to make sounds when we talk, like when we make speech sounds.” Ask the children to sound out a familiar letter.
  4. “Other sounds we make aren’t used when we talk, like when we make non-speech sounds. Can you click your tongue?”              

Watch me first!

  1. Show children the ‘modelling letter cards’ and ‘modelling body parts cards’ (or the smaller ‘letter cards’ and ‘body parts cards’). “We will be using these cards to make speech sounds and non-speech sounds.”
  2. Choose the ‘o’ ‘(modelling) letter card’. “I have the letter ‘o’ card. What sound can ‘o’ make? Sometimes it says ‘oh’. How does my mouth move to make the /ō/ sound?”
  3. “My lips form a little circle. Also, the air is coming out of my mouth and my voice box is vibrating. Let’s try it together! You can feel the vibration by placing your hand on your throat when you say /ō/.” “Is the letter /ō/ sound a speech sound or non-speech sound?”

Let's try it!

  1. “Now let’s choose some more cards to see what sounds we can make!”
  2. One at a time, draw a card. If you draw a ‘(modelling) letter card’, ask: “What sound does this letter make? How does my mouth move to make it?
    • /m/ - lips together (The sound comes out of our nose; ask them to try to plug and unplug their nose while making the sound. The sound will stop when the nose is plugged.)
    • /t/ - tongue behind teeth, releasing a puff of air
      • Each time ask: “Is this a speech sound or a non-speech sound? Why?”
  3. If you draw a ‘body parts card’, ask: “What body part is this? Can you make a sound using it?”:
    • lips (e.g., smacking, ‘raspberries’: lips vibrating together, kiss: lips pressed together then open, whistling, blowing, mmm, /p/, /b/, /oo/ as in boo, /ō/ as in boat, /w/)
    • tongue (e.g., clicking: tongue pushing off against the palate, licking, /t/, /d/, /n/, /l/)
    • teeth (e.g., clicking, /th/, /f/)
      • Each time ask: “Did you make a speech sound or a non-speech sound? How do you know?”

What did we learn?

  • “What body parts did we use today to help us make speech sounds and non-speech sounds?”
  • “Can you make a _____ (speech, non-speech) sound?”


To make this activity MORE challenging:

  • Print the provided ‘extra letters’ and ask the children to say the sound(s) that each letter represents.
  • Encourage the children to blend two (or more) letter-sounds together (ideally a consonant with the vowel) to see whether they can form real words.

To make this activity LESS challenging:

  • If some children cannot say a sound, make sure they watch a child or adult who makes the sound correctly.
  • For children who seem to have difficulty hearing the difference between sounds, use a mirror so they can see their mouth when making the sound.
  • Take pictures of a mouth making the different sounds or search online for ‘mouth pictures for speech sounds’ to show the children.