When students are struggling to hear the individual sounds in words they’re trying to spell, they often need to build a skill called phonemic awareness. And sound mapping is a simple but powerful way to boost it!

Add in a fun gumball theme and some squishy playdough balls and it’s a literacy match made in heaven. Snag your free download below and then hop over and snag 26 more sound mapping sets in our shop or on Teachers Pay Teachers!

Bubble Gum Sound Mapping Sheet

What Is Phonemic Awareness?

Phonemic awareness is one of those pre-reading skills we used to think wasn’t all that important for new readers but now, thanks to the science of reading, we know it’s absolutely critical.

It means HEARING the sounds in words. For instance, the word dog has three sounds: /d/ /o/ /g/ 

And so does the word rain: /r/ /ai/ /n/.

Notice that the word rain has THREE sounds but FOUR letters. When you’re practicing phonemic awareness, you’re only focusing on the sounds in words – NOT the spelling.

Helping students HEAR the sounds now will make it possible for them to SPELL the sounds later.

And That Leads Us to Sound Mapping…

This print-and-play activity gives kids practice lazering in on those individual sounds in words.

To play, they’ll grab a card, say the word, and then:

  1. TAP the sounds.
  2. SQUISH the sounds with playdough balls.
  3. GRAPH (write) the sounds.
  4. WRITE the sounds.
  5. READ the word.

Stretching apart the sounds before adding in spelling sets students up for major success.

Here’s the activity in action:

Sound mapping is a game changer!

Grab Your Set

Click the blue download button below to grab your sound map and then hop over and snag 26 more sound mapping sets in our shop or on Teachers Pay Teachers!

Click here to subscribe

Similar Posts


  1. Thank you for offering a sample of the bubblegum sound mapping sheet. It’s really a cute idea! I hope that if I offer the children a piece of gum while doing this, the playdough will not go in their mouths!

    1. Great idea! Maybe they can have a bit a bubble gum after they practice their sounds! Or a fun thing to use on National Bubble Gum Day! ? Happy Popping!

    1. Hi Marybeth! You’ll want to click on the blue download here link just above us! That should get you to the right spot!

  2. Such a cute and meaningful activity!! I would love the link!

  3. YAY! We are thrilled that this is helpful for you!

  4. Awesome! We are always having to switch things up to keep students engaged aren’t we?! Thank you SO much for sharing!

  5. Thank you Malia for this resource!
    Loved your Science of Reading Course and the Reading Roadmap before that too! Very valuable! Can’t wait to ditch my word Wall and flash cards!! Always found them useless and now I have the proof! Thanks again so much!

    1. Hi Elena!
      We’re thrilled you’ve gotten so much out of our courses, and we’re so excited for you to use a sound wall and sound mapping! Please let us know if we can be of any help while you’re making the switch!
      Sarah // Playdough to Plato Team

  6. I love this idea! I am having trouble getting the free link to work! 🙂

    1. Hi Dawn,
      When you click the blue “Download Here” button, a pop-up should open. You can try checking to make sure your browser isn’t blocking pop-ups from the site or try using a different browser. Let me know if you’re not able to get the sound maps!
      Sarah // Playdough to Plato Team

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *