Some early readers can learn many words by sight and guess at the rest of the words by using picture clues or thinking of a word that makes sense based on beginning sounds and the structure of language. Many of these readers ignore phonics and letter sound relationships. These early readers can be successful until about the middle of first grade. My daughter was one of these readers. Click here to read her story.
The first step to help a child sound out words is to make sure the child has phonemic awareness. Click here and here for some simple ways to develop this awareness.
Magnetic letters can be used to help a child sound out words and teach phonics. Click here to see some video demonstrations. Click here for more ideas with magnetic letters.
Selecting the right books will be important to get a child to combine sounding out with the other reading skills the child has learned. My daughter could not break the habit of expecting to know a word or guess at a word when reading. I taught phonics and sounding out separate from books. After a little practice she was able to transfer her new skills to reading books. I used Phonic Pathways: Clear Steps to Easy Reading and Perfect Spelling and Phonic Pathways: Simple Exercises to Improve Reading Fluency along with some magnetic letter work.
This post is dedicated to my friend who asked for help with her daughter's reading today. Let me know if I can help you in any other way.