Free Printable Back to School Letter Sound Mats

Grab these free Back to School Letter Sound Mats to engage students in a fun phonics activity to practice letter sound isolation.

Free printable back to school theme letter sound mats for practice with isolating beginning, middle and ending sounds. Perfect for phonics and phonemic awareness lessons!

Back to School Letter Sound Mats

Scoop up these back to school letter sound mats to make learning fun this school year. Students will use the mats to practice isolating beginning sounds, middle sounds and ending sounds while matching the letter that makes that sound.

Learning to isolate and identify letter sounds is a crucial phonetic skill that students need to know to move on to the next reading phase.

This phonics activity comes with 5 color mats – 3 for beginning sounds, 1 for middle sounds and 1 for ending sounds. Students will practice short vowel CVC words on the middle sounds mats.

Each mat features a fun back to school theme and 9 pictures to practice isolating sounds. The pictures are kid-friendly and can easily be identified by young students.

Free phonics and phonemic awareness resource for kids in kindergarten or first grade.

No Complicated Prep!

These back-to-school letter sound mats do not require complicated or time-consuming prep! The steps are quick and easy. Simply print, laminate, and go! Instead of laminating, you can also slide the mats into a write and wipe pocket for added durability.

If you plan to use these for small groups or centers, you can print fewer mats, making prep faster! All you need for this activity are a set of letter tiles, magnetic letters, letter beads, or any other alphabet manipulative you have.

A free printable phonics and phonemic awareness resource for back to school lessons.

Setting Up the Letter Sound Isolation Mats

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Supplies needed:

  • Back to School Beginning Sound Mats (button to get them is at the bottom of the post)
  • Letter tiles or another letter manipulative
  • Write and wipe pockets (optional)


  1. Print the back-to-school mats.
  2. Laminate or slide into write and wipe pockets.
  3. Gather letter tiles or letter manipulative of your choice.
  4. Store the entire activity in a large baggie, file folder, or storage tray.
A fun, hands-on phonics activity for isolating beginning, middle and ending sounds and finding the letter that makes that sound.

Using the Mats for Back to School Lessons

For this activity, students will look at a picture on the mat. Then they will isolate the letter sound of the word and determine what letter makes that sound. Next, they will take the correct letter manipulative and cover the picture with the manipulative, matching the letter and the sound.

Students can take this activity a step further by saying the word aloud, stating the sound the mat is focused on, and which letter makes that sound. For students ready for a challenge, have them say a sentence using that word. If they are working as partners, they can take turns telling each other.

You could even provide students with a recording sheet and have them write both the uppercase letter and lowercase letter represented by each beginning sound.

A free printable phonics and phonemic awareness activity for kids.

So Versatile!

These letter sound mats could be used as a tic-tac-toe game or bingo board. Students could play in partners with different colored letter manipulatives and work to get 3 in a row for tic-tac-toe.

More Differentiation Ideas!

There are a variety of ways that these letter sounds matching mats can be differentiated to meet the needs of your students. Since there are 5 different mats, you can start by having your students complete only 1 mat. As their skills progress, they can work their way up to completing all the different mats.

Another way to use this free printable is to have the students draw a letter manipulative and find the picture from the 3 mats that begins with that sound. Simply switching up the way students match the letters and sounds challenges their brain in a different way. They will use their phonics and problem-solving skills as they search from the pictures to find the match.

Students could use these matching mats with partners as well. They could take turns practicing letters and matching pictures or work together to complete the mat. This helps them work cooperatively and allows them to encourage and coach each other along the way.

Slide the mats into a wipe and write pocket and have students write the letter that they need to identify with a dry erase marker. They could read and write the whole CVC word if they are ready for that task.

A printable phonics activity for kids to use while practicing letter sound isolation in kindergarten and first grade.

Make your back-to-school time less stressful with these quick-to-prep letter isolation mats for kids. They would be great for morning work time, literacy centers, or even small group.

Click the button below to get the Back to School Letter Sound Mats and incorporate them into your lesson plans for letter recognition and sounds today!

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Here are some more back to school activities to check out!

Back to School Beginning Sounds Pencil Puzzles

Back to School Editable Bump Game

Back to School Editable Word Building Mats

Back to School Editable Write the Room

Back to School Count the Room

Back to School Feed the Crayon Box Letter Sounds

Back to School Theme Page