Intervention Programs

Signs for Sounds™

Lesson Guide and Reproducible Masters

4.9 of 5 (9 reviews | add review)

  • Phonics
  • Spelling

Additional Support:
  • Phonemic

Skill Level: Grades 1‒3
Intervention Range: Beginning Reader to Adult Learner

Enjoy a classroom of competent spellers by using Signs for Sounds. This research-based spelling program systematically builds proficiency in spelling while reinforcing reading skills. Signs for Sounds teaches the spelling of decodable words and irregular high-frequency words.

Signs for Sounds provides...

  • Explicit phonics instruction paired with explicit spelling instruction.
  • A system for teaching the spelling of irregular high-frequency words.
  • Appropriate scaffolding that diminishes as the student becomes proficient.
  • Best practices in spelling instruction, including immediate self-correction.
  • Differentiation for individual students or small groups.
  • An assessment to place students in the appropriate level and lessons.


  • Build proficiency in spelling.
  • Master correspondence between sounds and letters to spell decodable words.
  • Internalize a system for learning to spell irregular high-frequency words.
  • Apply spelling skills by writing dictated sentences.
  • Review skills based on performance.

Signs for Sounds is a systematic spelling program that teaches students how to take words apart, sound-by-sound, and how to write them down on paper, letter-by-letter. Each lesson reviews or builds on skills taught in previous lessons, adding just a few elements at a time. The program emphasizes both regular and irregular high-frequency words. Teachers present instruction to individual students or small groups of students with similar needs.

pointer Research basis for Signs for Sounds

Signs for Sounds uses research-based strategies to teach spelling and phonics with teacher-led instruction​Teaching Phase

In each lesson, the teacher teaches the featured phonics element, the sound-out words (words with a regular spelling pattern) that use the phonics element, and one or more spell-out words (high-frequency words with irregular spelling).

  1. Teach the Element
    The teacher teaches the phonics element by saying the sound that the element makes, writing the corresponding letter(s) on the board, and presenting a few words from the sound-out word lists so students can practice the featured elements.
  2. Teach Sound-Out Word(s)
    Students listen as the teacher dictates a sound-out word. On the lesson form, students circle the letter(s) that represent each sound or syllable in the dictated word and then write the word. Having defined letter choices increases students’ chances of success. The teacher immediately writes the word on the board so each student can check and correct his or her spelling of the word.
  3. Teach Spell-Out Word(s)
    The teacher introduces each spell-out word by saying the word and saying each letter as he or she writes the letters on the board.
  4. Practice Spell-Out Word(s)
    Students independently practice writing the spell-out word(s). For each spell-out word on the lesson form, they say and spell the word quietly as they trace the gray letters and write the missing letters. The student checks and corrects his or her spelling of the word.

Testing Phase

Before continuing with the next phase, the teacher tests the students to make sure they’ve learned the new skills.

  1. Test Sound-Out Words
    Students fold their lesson forms to hide the practice words. The teacher then dictates each sound-out word from the teaching phase as students write the word on their lesson forms.
  2. Test Spell-Out Words
    The teacher dictates each spell-out word as students write the word on their lesson forms.
  3. Correct the Words
    Students unfold their lesson forms to check and correct their tests. Students record their scores on their score sheets. If students score 80 percent correct or higher on the sound-out words, they are ready for the dictation phase. Otherwise, they repeat the teaching and testing phases with an alternate list. Using alternate word lists, students repeat lessons as often as needed to ensure mastery of target skills.

Dictation Phase

In the dictation phase, students write more spell-out words and sentences from dictation. The teacher focuses on words that are difficult for students based on the results of the testing phase.

  1. Review/Test Spell-Out Words
    The teacher dictates each spell-out word in the dictation list as students write the word on their dictation forms. The teacher writes the word on the board so each student can check and correct his or her spelling of the word.
  2. Dictate Sentences
    Students fold their dictation forms to hide their spell-out words. The teacher then dictates sentences as students write each sentence on their dictation forms. The teacher can choose the short or the long dictation sentences.
  3. Correct the Sentences
    The teacher collects and corrects the sentences, and students record their scores on their score sheets.

Read Naturally's Signs for Sounds has two levels. Each level has multiple spelling lessons aligned to phonics skills.

  • Signs for Sounds 1 teaches letter sounds, beginning phonics skills, and the first 50 high-frequency words.
  • Signs for Sounds 2 reviews all skills taught in level 1, additional phonics skills, and the first 100 high-frequency words.

pointer Featured spelling patterns and phonics skills by level

Read Naturally Signs for Sounds is sold by level. Teachers select the appropriate level(s) for their students. A free placement assessment is available online so teachers can select the level(s) that are appropriate for their students.

​Each level includes a lesson guide, a book of reproducible masters, a teacher's manual, and free web resources. 

Lesson guide includes:
  • Review of the steps. 
  • Short explanation of what to teach and/or review in the teaching and testing phases.
  • List of spell-out words to teach and/or review.
  • Dictation sentences.
Book of reproducible masters includes:
  • One student lesson form for each lesson.
  • Two dictation forms.
  • Student score sheets.
  • Student assessment forms, directions, and record sheets.
  • Scope and Sequence.
  • Class planning sheet.
  • Pronunciation Guide.
  • Parent letter.
  • Super Speller Award.
Teacher’s manual includes:
  • Research and rationale of the program.
  • Overview of the three phases of instruction – teaching, testing, and dictation.
  • Explanation of student and teacher materials.
  • Description of teacher responsibilities.
Free web resources include:
  • Assessment packet with overview and instructions.
  • Fidelity checklist.


Student Assessment (for Program Screening & Placement)

pointer Featured spelling patterns and phonics skills by level

Description Item Number Item Price, $ Quantity
Signs for Sounds Level 1 SFS01 $89.00
Signs for Sounds Level 2 SFS02 $89.00
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Customer Reviews

Oct 8, 2021


Effective, individualized spelling and phonics instruction that works!!! As a K-3 reading specialist, I use this to supplement phonics instruction to help my students feel more confident in their spelling abilities.


Nov 5, 2020


I love this app


Sep 27, 2020


This program has been the only spelling program which has helped my dyslexic daughter learn how to spell. I feel like it has a much more scaffolded approach than other spelling programs, since the first activity has the student just choosing a correct letter for the word. Not having to spell the entire word on a blank sheet of paper is much less intimidating. That's just a theory as to why Signs for Sounds has worked when other programs failed -- but the main observation holds true. IT WORKS!


Apr 6, 2017


As a Reading Specialist K-5, I love using Signs for Sounds. No matter the skill level or the specific need my students have, I can find a lesson that fits them perfectly. Signs for Sounds allows explicit instruction with almost errorless-learning. I love that Signs for Sounds includes everything from segmenting and letter sound connection to re-coding and writing sight words and sentences. I use it K-5 and the classroom teachers that I support continue to see improvement in students' writing.


Apr 6, 2017


I have used this program since the 90's. I have always found success with students in learning to develop the key skill of segmenting and blending sounds. Many of the students I work with need explicit instruction in these areas. The format allows use in all grades without older students feeling they are working on beginning skills. Discover the pleasure of watching your students developing their decoding skills and applying them to their daily readings.


Apr 6, 2017


Sign for Sounds works with my SPED students, they tap and recognize the letter sounds. The letter choices help them discern the sounds.
Great tool!


Apr 27, 2016


Signs for Sounds has been very beneficial for my special education students. The structure and the flexibility built into the system allows me to work on specific skills depending on the needs of individual students. They are learning to apply the spelling rules, not just memorize the rules for a test on Friday .


Nov 4, 2014


I have been using Signs for Sound since last Spring (2014) when I purchased it to use with a specific kindergarten student who could not learn the alphabet - I work with the students who need extra assistance. Once I started the program I realized that it works extremely well with Cued Speech and would recommend all people using Signs for Sounds to also use the cues from Cued Speech - This would be extremely important for students who have phonemic issues such as dyslexia.


Apr 2, 2014

I love how the assessment for Signs for Sounds tells me exactly which lessons each child needs. A student can zone in on the specific skills he or she has missed somewhere along the educational path. Older students are often eager to improve their spelling skills because social media has made those skills valuable to today's kids. When I tell them I can help them become better spellers, they are intrigued. When they see their own progress, they are amazed!

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