Sound Spelling Versus Sound Reading

Sound Spelling Versus Sound Reading, What’s the Difference?

When taking an Orton Gillingham class, as a student or as a teacher, you will have two terms: Reading Consonant & Vowels and Spelling Consonants & Vowels.

What’s the difference in the two? It can get a little confusing.

Reading Consonant & Vowel Sounds

When going through a consonant reading deck with a student they will use an s two ways, as two sounds, /s/ or /z/.

The s can make two sounds, /s/ and /z/.

Sound reading is asking, what sounds does this letter (or letter combination) make?

Ideas to drill sound reading

To drill sound reading, use decks from your Jewel Box, student says the sound and key word. Go as quickly as possible and be sure to shuffle the cards!

Teach 3-5 letters at a time. Show the cards together, say the sound and have student point to the card making the sound.

Use vowel strips to drill vowel sounds.

Dictate the sound and have the student write sound/sounds. A student can only write what they have been taught, so as this exercise gets more in depth, so will the answers.

Dictate a whole word, like mad, and ask the student to write the letter that says, “d.”


What sounds does a j make?

Answer: /j/ (jam)

What sounds does a k make?

Answer: /k/ (kite)

What sounds does an a make?

Answer: ? (apple), ? (baby) & ? (balloon)

Spelling Consonant & Vowel Sounds

When you say, tell me what letters (or letter combinations) make the sound /s/. The student will write s (sun) or c (city). And more advanced, /s/ is also made with sc (scissors) and ps (psychology).

The /s/ sound can be made four ways, with s, c, sc, and ps. (sc & ps are advanced and in a section called “Silent Letters.”)

Sound spelling is what asking, how many ways can a sound be made and by what letters.

Ideas to drill sound spelling

Have a deck of Spelling Consonants & Spelling Vowels in your Jewel Box. Drill those with students.

Dictate words using the sounds. Only expect a student can write the letter or letter combinations as they are taught. As time goes, the student will understand there are multiple ways to make a sound.

Dictate phrases or sentences using words.

Use a worksheet/chart to have students write letter(s) that make sounds.

Fluency reading stories.

You can use a Sound Spelling Checklist to check off sounds as they are learned. Let the student have a copy or show them their progress using the checklist.


What letters or letter combinations make the “j” sound?

Answer: j (jump), g (gym), -ge (fringe), -dge (edge), & -du (educate)

What letters or letter combinations spell “k” sound?

Answer: k (kite), c (cut), ck (kick), ch (Christmas), -lk (chalk), -que (antique)

What letters or letter combinations spell the “?” (long a) sound?

Answer: a_e (ape), a (baby), ai (rain), ay (say), eigh (eight), ea (steak), ei (veil)

Want more? Check out the new Sound Spelling Packet in the Workbook Store. It contains a Sound Spelling Checklist and Worksheet Charts.

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