Letter M Sound

Introduction

The letter m sound is one of the first sounds that young children can say, and it is an easier sound for students. Many children are able to say the /m/ sound, and can say “mama” or “mommy”, and can master the sound with little help. It’s a good letter to practice and remember well, as it’s very common in English words. However, be sure to listen for their pronunciation, as they may mix up the /m/ and /n/ sounds. Get ready to practice and blend the /m/ sound together!

Phonics Pronunciation

The /m/ sound is normally taught in phonics by rubbing your tummy as if seeing yummy foods, and saying the mmmmmm sound. Explore different foods with your students while saying if something is tasty or not with the mmmmm sound. Make this sound by closing your lips and mouth and use your vocal chords to make the /m/ sound. The /m/ sound is a nasal sound, like the /n/ sound, which means that air travels through nose and the mouth is blocked. It is also a voiced sound, meaning your vocal cords should vibrate. 

You can try the difference with these nasal sounds, as the /m/ sound has the lips closed and the /n/ sound with the lips open instead. This may be important, as some students may not hear the difference with these two sounds, as they can sound alike. With the /m/ sound, you lips will be closed and touching together. With the /n/ sound, you lips will be slightly apart but your teeth will be together. This is an important difference with these two sounds. You can reference this difference in your mouth position, either closed (m) or slightly open (n), when helping students pronounce these two letters.

Practice the /m/ sound with your students, and hold the /m/ sound, as it does not have an inherent end. Once they can say the /m/ sound and repeat it, you can move on to add the different vowels to the sound as in ma,ma,ma, me,me,me, moo,moo,moo. After they can say these sounds well, you can advance to the three letter CVC words to blend.

Checkout this letter m sound video!

Visual hints

As this sound can be quite visual for students, direct the students attention to the shape of your mouth and lips. Show them that your lips are closed, and encourage them to do the same. You can further show this by pinching the index and thumb fingers together near your mouth, to illustrate the closed lips. You can also do this while incorporating the rubbing of the tummy and /m/ sound. This should be enough help for the students to understand how to make this sound.

Handwriting Help with letter /M/

As the letter /m/ has many lines in it, it may be hard for younger students to write or remember. You can encourage the students to practice writing zig-zag lines to help them with the letter /m/. Try to find activities in phonics books to extend a long zig-zag line for them to write on. Another idea is for them to practice writing the /n/ letter, and adding an extra curve for the lowercase /m/. You can even show them it is two /n/ together, as some students may mistake 3 curves for this letter.

If your student is having a hard time writing the straight lines in the letter, it could because of their pencil grip or development of their hand muscles, in the case of younger children. Try to work with them on exercises to hold the pencil properly, or on muscle development techniques like paper crumpling or playing with play-doh. You can also start them off with just tracing the letter /m/ or with zig-zag lines.

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

Activity hints

A fun activity for students can be with music! You can practice humming tunes or pick a vocal range and hold a note with the sound mmmmmm. Have your students copy you or try to go a note higher, and see how can go the highest. Kids naturally like competition, so this can be a fun activity when practicing humming and saying the /m/ sound.

You can also hum popular song tunes or nursery rhymes with them, for them to practice the /m/ sound. You can encourage them with popular sounds, like “Let it go”, “Mary had a little lamb” or “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”. You can search online for popular nursery rhymes or ask your students what characters or stories they like.

Letter /m/ Blending

As the letter /m/ is a bit easier for students to pronounce, it should be quite fast for them to be able to say and practice the /m/ sound well. If they are still struggling with the sound, you can go back and take your time to go over the /m/ techniques and focus on the shape of your lips and mouth. After the students can repeat the /m/ sound, you can practice the /m/ sound with the vowels as in ma,ma,ma, me,me,me and moo,moo,moo. As this sound can be easier for students to say and blend well, you can make it harder by having the /m/ sound at the end. Try some harder sounds with the students like am,am,am, im,im,im or um,um,um.

Once the students can blend the /m/ sound and vowels well, move on with the three letter CVC words. Start with the easy CVC words as in m-o-m, m-a-p, m-o-p. After the students can blend these words well, you can start to have them blend the 4 letter words, as they have should have been blending a lot by now. Start them off slow with 4 letter words such as m-a-s-k, m-i-l-k and m-oo-n. This still may be difficult for students to blend these words, so do not feel the need to pressure them to blend it well. It may take more time for your students to start blending longer words on their own.

Checkout our Top 25 phonics books for reading letters

Everyday English

Once the students can blend these /m/ sound and 3 or 4 letter words, you should reinforce this with introducing everyday words to them. These are some good words to practice and remember everyday with the letter /m/.

There are many foods that start with the letter /m/, such as mango, muffins and mushrooms. You can show them pictures of these foods for some visual aids.

Many animals also start with the letter /m/, like monkey, mouse, and moose. Pretend to act like a monkey and jump around the classroom.

Many people and jobs start with /m/, as in mom, mailman and fireman. You can go around and name each job or person ending with man or woman.

Letter /m/ sentence reading

After learning how to say and blend words with the letter /m/, 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 /m/ you can read together with the students.

I am mad.

I am a man.

My mom is pam.

My mom and me.

The sun and the moon.

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 /m/ !

Letter m tongue twisters

The letter /m/ can be really fun to say in sentences, and make for funny tongue twisters. Get your lips ready for some fun /m/ sounds!

Much mashed mushrooms

Much mashed mushrooms

Much mashed mushrooms

Mummies munch much mush.

Monsters munch much mush

Many mummies and monsters must munch much mush.

Might Mike Makes marvelous munchies for Mary, Mitch and Me.

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