In what order should I teach Letter-Sound Correspondence?

A systematic approach is recommended to build grapheme-phoneme knowledge from simple to complex. Many schools use the Carnine order of sounds:

a m t s i f d r o g l h u c b n k v e W j p y T L M F D I N A R E H G B x q z J Q

(Carnine, D. W., Silbert, J., & Kameenui, E. J. (1997). Direct instruction reading (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill/Prentice-Hall)

The Carnine list separates visually and auditorily similar letters so students aren’t learning b and d close together, or having to discern the different between /i/ and /e/ at the same time. It also first teaches the sounds of letters that can be used to build the most real words e.g. m, s, a, t

Features of Well-designed Letter-sound Correspondence Instruction


  1. Are easily confused sounds separated over several lessons? (d/b/p, e/i, m/n)
  2. Are letter-sounds that occur in a large number of words introduced early in the sequence?
  3. Is the rate of letter-sound correspondence introduction manageable for the learner but adequate to allow multiple words to be made within 2-3 weeks? While there are no definitive guidelines for scheduling letter-sound correspondences, a rate of introducing one new letter-sound correspondence every 2-3 days is reasonable.
  4. Does the sequence include a few short vowels early to allow students to build words?
  5. Does the sequence begin with several continuous sounds?

(Big Ideas in beginning reading: University of Oregon. Alphabetic Principle: Instruction (