Letter i sound


The letter i sound is the third vowel taught in the Jolly Phonics  and alphabet programs, and it just as important as /a/ when blending and forming new words. Afterall, “I” is the most important word in most people sentences, as it is who you are.

Students normally can say the /i/ sound fairly easily, but may have a hard time when blending or decoding. They make also have a harder time to remember the sound, so use visuals and phonics books to help the students, if needed. Get your happy face ready for the letter /i/.

Phonics Pronunciation for the letter i sound

The /i/ sound is taught to students as a very short squeak-like sound, as you move your fingers as whiskers of a mouse while saying i-i-i. The sound should sound like a shortened version of the /ee/ sound. Emphasize on the quick and short /i/ sound, and the movements of your fingers when you say /i/. To make the /i/ sound, the tip of your tongue will just touch behind your bottom teeth, while the middle part of your tongue goes up to the roof of your mouth. You should try to repeat the short i-i-i sound as much as possible for the students. This will let them understand that this is a short sound, and different from the /ee/ sound learned later on.

Another way to teach students is by saying the letter name I(eye) I(eye), i-i-i. You would say the letter name twice, followed by the sound three times. This technique is used for students to help them hear the letter name, followed immediately by the sound of the letter. This technique can be used as many students may only remember the letter i name, and not the sound. Of course you can use this technique for other sounds as well, such as Tee, Tee, t,t,t or Bee, Bee, b,b,b.

Checkout this video for the letter i sound!

Visual hints

For students who have troubles remembering or saying the /i/ sound, you can help them by focusing on the shape of your mouth when saying the /i/ sound. Your mouth should look similar to when you make the /s/ sound, and be stretched out as if you are smiling. This will force their mouth and tongue to stretch more to make the /i/ sound. You can encourage your students to make happy faces and say the i-i-i sound.

You can also make a straight /I/ shape with your hand, to show them that this letter goes straight up and down. This will reinforce their understanding of the shape and how to write and read the letter later on.

Handwriting Help with the letter /i/

The lettter /i/ is normally one of the easier letters to write for students, as it is only a single line and a dot for the lowercase /i/ and three lines for the uppercase /I/. Be sure that the students are writing the letter /i/ correctly, and to write the base first and dot second. Some students may miss the dot entirely, so watch when your student is practicing how to write this. You should eventually move them to write on their own without tracing, as many students will just simply skip the dot or write messy.

If your student is having a hard time to write the /i/ letter, it may also be due to their pencil grip or muscle development in their hands. As this letter is one of the easier to write, it may be because the student cannot identify a straight line well. Start with tracing activities for the letter /i/, or use 3 or 4 small food objects to line up the letter /i/. You can do this while doing some exercises to develop their hand muscles, such as playing with playdoh or crumpling paper.

If your child still struggles with this sound, checkout some ABC books to help them out.

Activity hints

As mostly younger children struggle with the letter /i/, a fun activity for them is to trace the letter /i/ with their finger. You can do this on a chalkboard or in sand, if you have it. Otherwise, print out some big pieces of paper with the letter /i/ on it, and arrange 3-5 toys or small food, such as candy, in a row to make the letter /i/. You can do this with many objects they like, and turn learning letters into a fun activity for the students.

Letter /i/ Blending

The letter /i/ is an important letter for the student’s understanding, as it is one of the 5 vowels in the English language. This will be foundational when learning phonics and also forming words. Once the student can remember and pronounce the letter /i/ well, you can move on to incorporating this in their vowel sounds and blending.

As many words contain the letter /i/ sound, you can start by using it in easy CVC words such as k-i-t, m-i-s, b-i-t. If these CVC words are still too difficult for the students, you can use simple two letter words such as in, if, it, is, ill. When blending be sure the student is saying the word correctly, and not “k-ee-s, m-ee-s or b-ee-t”, as some students will mistakenly do this. Remind them it should be a short sound when blending words.For these words, you can remind them that every word must contain the letter /i/, which will help them understand each word must have a vowel. 

Also when blending and practicing the /i/ sound, practice their listening skills by saying a words, and having them repeat or find the picture. The reason for this is because the /i/ sound is so short, many students cannot hear if the letter /i/ is in a word when decoding. For example when saying h-i-t, the student may only hear h-t. Therefore, you can take more time to practice their listening and decoding skills, but saying words, and having them repeat, find the picture, or spell the word out.

Checkout our Top 25 phonics books for reading letters

Everyday English

As the letter /i/ sound is one of the five vowels, this letter will occur in many words in English. Therefore, make sure the students can remember and say the /i/ sound, and are able to blend some words with it. Here are some words with the letter /i/ to encourage your students to learn more everyday words!

Many objects start with the letter /i/, such as ink and igloo.

You can also introduce them to other words starting with /i/, like insect, itch, and ill.

You can also introduce them to words with the long /i/ sound, such as ice cream, iron and ice. Be sure though to teach them the difference between the short /i/ and long /i/ sound, in order not to confuse them.

Letter /i/ sentence reading

After learning how to say and blend words with the letter /i/, it’s good to introduce basic sentences to the children to read. These sentences are meant to be basic for students learning the alphabet letters and phonics as their second language.

Here are some short sentences with /i/ you can read together with the students.

It is big.

It is in a tin.

Tim is big.

Tim is fit.

A pig is pink.

It’s important your students practice reading short sentences, so they gain the confidence and can practice their blending skills. Therefore, encourage your students to read these sentences to improve their phonics and blending with the letter /i/ !

5 letter words

Letter i songs

As the letter /i/ is more common in the middle of words, you can incorporate songs to help your student understand the /i/ sound. Try singing this song to let them learn.

I is for Igloo (Tune of London Bridge)

Igloo starts with letter i,

Letter i, letter i,

Igloo starts with letter i,


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