Letter P Sound


The letter /p/ is an easier sound for students, with many children being able to pronounce it at an early age. It is a hard sound with a puff of air. Students are often introduced to the letter p sound as in “papa”, and can say it well with a bit of help. Get your lips ready to say and blend the /p/ sound!

Phonics Pronunciation of the Letter P Sound

The /p/ sound is normally taught as you pretend to puff out a candle while saying p-p-p. Really exaggerate your puffs of air when saying /p/, and show the students the release of air with each sound. The /p/ sound is made with both lips being pressed together. Air is brought into the mouth and released through the lips, with the teeth slightly open. This pressing of the lips will make the /p/ sound. The /p/ and /b/ sounds have the same action and mouth position, but the /p/ sound is unvoiced, while the /b/ is voiced. This means that the /p/ sound is made only with the release of air, and the /b/ is made while vibrating the vocal cords.

Many students may have /p/ as their first sounds as a child, which means its more natural for students to say and repeat. Once your students can say the /p/ sound well, you can move on with adding the vowel variations as in pa,pa,pa, po,po,po, pee,pee,pee. After this, move on with the three letter CVC words and further blending.

Checkout this video for the letter P Sound!

Visual hints

As the /p/ sound relies on the release of a puff of air, have your students focus on the motion of your mouth when you say the sound. You can try to point to your closed lips before saying the sound, and moving them away when saying the /p/ sound. You could also show them with a piece of paper. Bring a piece of paper close to your mouth, and make a puff of air with /p/ to make the paper bend. This may help students who are mispronouncing it with the /b/ sound, as not much air is produced with this.

Handwriting Help with letter /P/

Luckily the upper case and lower case of the letter /p/ is the same, so you can focus on writing the combination of a straight line and curved line with your students. If they are having difficulties writing or remembering this sound, go back and review how to write straight lines and circular motions. You can also take a look at different phonics books to help.

If this is still challenging for them, it may be because of their hand muscle development, especially if they are younger children. Go back and practice techniques such as paper crumpling or playing with a sponge or play doh to strengthen their hands. Otherwise, you may need to practice on gripping a pencil correctly.

Some students may also have problems with mixing up the /p/ and /q/ lower case letters, as they can look similar to young students. You can try with the /p/ letter to right the straight line first, and then finish the letter with going right and end with the loop. With the /q/ letter, you would start with the /c/ loop, and finishing with the straight line. Practice writing these more if the students have a hard time remembering.

Another technique is using your hands to help with these letters. A reversal of the /b/ and /d/ letters, make two fists with your hands but have your outside wrists points towards you, with your thumbs pointing down. You can see that your left hand resembles the letter /p/ and your right hand resembles the letter /q/. Use this hand technique to show the /p/ shape (/p/ comes before /q/ in the alphabet) and the /q/ shape. You can even recite the alphabet for their memory.

Activity hints

A fun activity for students while practicing /p/ can be to take a deep breath, and release it with a pop! This can be fun for students to copy and say. You can pretend to blow up a big balloon, and have it burst with a pop! You can also pop like popcorn, and jump up and down. A fun game can be students randomly pop up from their seat, and if two students pop at the same time, they lose.

Another idea is instead of using a paper, use a tissue in front of your mouth and say the /p/ sound to make it “dance”. You can see the funny movements and ways your tissue can move, all by saying the /p/ sound. This will also reinforce the idea that this sound is made with releasing air from your mouth.

Letter /P/ Blending

As the letter /p/ is easier for students to say, it should take them no time to practice and learn this sound well. If they are having a hard time learning this sound, you can go over the sound and techniques on create the /p/ sound with your lips and mouth. Once the students can repeat the /p/ sound well, you can move on to the vowel variations of the sounds as in pa,pa,pa, po,po,po and pee,pee,pee. 

As the /p/ sound can be easier for students to say and repeat, try to challenge your students by introducing words with /p/ at the ending. Try to say some harder sound as in u-p, p-o-p, n-a-p. This will be important for the students, so that they can say words that both start and end with the letter /p/. It will be good practice for them to say the /p/ sound at the end, as this sound will be used to end the word. Further, be sure to teach the students not to say “puh” when blending these words, as students can make this mistake as well. Otherwise, their words will end us sounding like pop-uh, nap-uh, cap-uh.

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

Everyday English

Once the students can say and blend the /p/ words well, you can introduce them the various everyday words. Of course, if they are having difficulties, take more time to review the sound and blending of the words.

Some colours start with the letter /p/, such as pink and purple. You can go around and point to objects that are these colors!

Many foods start with the letter /p/, such as popcorn, pineapple and peas. You can pretend to “pop” like popcorn, and jump around with the /p/ sound!

There are many different animals that start with the /p/ sound, like Pig, Panda and Parrot. You can play game to repeat after each other like a parrot!

Letter /p/ sentence reading

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

A cap.

A big pig.

A pink pig.

Pop pop popcorn

I like popcorn.

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 /p/ !

Letter P tongue twisters

The letter /p/ can be one of the funnest tongue twisters to say. Get your lips ready for some fun /p/ sentences!

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.

If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,

Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?

A pack of pesky pixies

A pack of pesky pixies

A pack of pesky pixies

Pop bottles pop-bottles in pop shops;

The pop-bottles Pop bottles poor Pop drops.

When Pop drops pop-bottles, pop-bottlesplop;

When pop-bottles topple, Pop mops slop.

Be sure to check out our Resources Page for more information on BabyKidsBooks!