Bruce Murray, College of Education The Reading Genie


Hand Gestures for Phonemes

Devised by faculty and students at Auburn University

Phoneme Hand gestures (all objects mentioned are imagined, not actual)
/A/ Fonzie’s thumbs up
/a/ Rub beside eyes with fists
/b/ Pat chest for heartbeat; beat drum
/k/ Squeeze nutcracker; swing golf club; pull down index finger to click camera
/d/ Knock on door; dribble basketball
/E/ Raise open hands for shriek
/e/ Push elbows back as a rocking chair; open creaky door; cup hand behind ear
/f/ Claw like angry cat; brush clothing with clothes brush; swirl open hand for electric fan; pump the trigger on a spray bottle
/g/  Clap hand vertically for croaking frog, raise glass for gulping milk
 /h/ Pump arms for panting runner; breathe on cupped hand; nod head like tired dog
 /I/  Raise hand in a salute as in “Aye, aye, Captain”; point thumb toward yourself
 /i/  Hold out or shake separated sticky fingers
 /j/  Scrub with scrub brush; file with wood rasp; twirl jump rope
 /l/  Raise light saber; lick a lollypop
 /m/  Rub tummy; zip up lips
 /n/  Drive motorboat
 /O/  Nod for “Oh, I see”
 /o/  Press thumb for tongue depressor; wipe forehead with back of hand; cover mouth for yawn
 /p/  Pop fingers open for popcorn; touch fingers on open hand for water drip;  skip stone ; pop soap bubbles
/kw/ (qu)  Type with two fingers
 /r/ Start a chain saw; clench teeth for growling dog
 /s/  Puncture a flat tire; spray hairspray; swirl frying pan for sizzling bacon; undulate hand from side to side for snake; strike down with two fingers for fangs of snake
 /t/  Make a pendulum finger for ticking clock; tap watch; listen to watch
 /U/  Point like Uncle Sam:  “We want you.”
 /u/ Pretend to punch your stomach; pull chain on foghorn
 /v/  Pretend to shave with electric shaver; extend arms for airplane; push vacuum cleaner
 /w/  Twirl a lariat; cast a fly rod; move from side to side like washing machine
 /ks/ (x)  Open a soda can; squeeze a grease gun
 /y/  Slap the side of your leg to spur a horse, “Yah.”
 /z/  Zip up a coat
 /OO/ Raise hands with fingers pointed down like ghost
 /oo/  Curl arms to lift weights; pull fists down for chin-up
 /oi/  Open squeaky gate
 /ou/  Squeeze upper arm after inoculation
 /aw/  Flap wings like crow
 /ar/  Shift grinding gears
 /sh/  Finger to lips for “Be quiet”; wave hose to water the lawn
 /hw/  Blow out candle held in hand
 /ch/  Revolve fists alternately for wheels of steam train; steer antique car
 /th/  Peel tape
 /ng/ Strike a gong with two hands; pluck string bass
 /zh/  Saw a board

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Last modified: September 13, 2021