Have you heard of voiced vs unvoiced sounds? Some kids struggle with articulation. Their inability to articulate certain sounds may decrease their reading accuracy. Kids who struggle with articulation may need explicit instruction in how to say voice vs unvoiced sounds.
For example, a dyslexic child will often need to learn that /b/ and /p/ require the same mouth movements, but /b/ is voiced and /p/ is unvoiced. This explicit instruction- that /b/ requires the voice and /p/ does not- will often help the dyslexic child read more accurately.
The name is apt here. We use our voice for voiced sounds. Our vocal chords activate. There is vibration in the throat. One way to identify a voice sound is to put your hand on your throat, say the sound, and see if you feel a vibration. If you do, you are saying a voiced sounds.
Some voiced sounds include: b, d, g, j, v, m, th as in then.
We do not use our vocal chords for unvoiced sounds. However, we do breathe out. When you say these sounds, your throat is still. There are no vibrations.
Some unvoiced sounds include: f, p, t, h, th as in bath.
Kids start to learn voice vs unvoiced sounds in Kindergarten.
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Contrasting Voiced vs Unvoiced Sounds
The following sounds require the same mouth movements, but one is voiced and the other isn’t. Put your hand on your throat. Notice that your tongue is hitting the same spot in the mouth. However, only one uses the voice.
While /b/ is voiced, /p/ is unvoiced.
/th/ as in then is voiced. /th/ as in bath is unvoiced.
/v/ is voiced. /f/ is unvoiced.
Why do voiced vs unvoiced sounds matter in early reading lessons?
Some kids struggle to articulate sounds correctly. This can cause low reading accuracy. For example, a child that says the voiced /b/ for /p/, might read Ben as pen or bland as pend. As a reading educator, you want to do everything you can to increase decoding accuracy.
Thus, when you come across a sound that has a voice and unvoiced version, you can explicitly teach your student when to use his voice. That way, he can read more words correctly.
Check out our decodable phonics books in our shop.
Our phonics story “My Dream Pet” helps kids master the ee and ea phonics units. The child in the story imagines a winged dolphin as his dream pet.