It’s official. According to the Australian government, phonics now belongs in every primary classroom.
But while we do our best to put together new wordlists and programs, one nagging question remains:
How do we engage our students with phonics?
After all, the difference between /ch/ and /k/ isn’t that exciting thing in the eyes of a five-year-old…
Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. Here are 6 phonics activities that will boost your students’ reading skills while allowing them to get active, hands-on, and maybe even a little competitive.
- Have students write the full set of vowels on coloured sticky notes.
- Give them an A3 sheet filled with three-letter words (consonant, vowel, consonant), but leave a blank space for the central vowel. For example:
H _ T T _ G
B _ D S _ T
C _ B B _ T
- Students then have to stick vowels into appropriate empty spaces to generate as many words as they can – reading each one aloud as they go.
Tip: once a student has filled in all the gaps, they can challenge a partner to rearrange the vowels and create an entirely new set of words.
Give students a mix of images and challenge them to categorize them according to their beginning phonetic sounds. For example, pictures of glasses, gloves, globes, and glitter would all be placed under ‘gl-’.
Tip: Have some fun choosing the images and get students to cut them out of old newspapers and magazines. The odder the images, the more creative they’ll have to get with the categories!
Phonics mix up
Put individual phonemes on separate cards, and then mix them up with vowels. Students then have to come up with as many words as possible using the cards at their disposal.
- Have students write the individual phonemes of a word on separate pieces of card.
- Using sticky tape, have them attach the phonemes (in the right order) to an elastic band.
- When students stretch the band, the phonemes will appear separate from one another and they can slowly sound out each part.
- Have them relax the tension to put the word back together, and then practice saying it as normal.
Bring phonics outdoors by creating a hopscotch with graphemes (letters representing sounds) instead of numbers. Students can jump between them as you call out different sounds.
Tip: instead of calling out individual sounds, call out a full word that makes use of as many sounds in the hopscotch as possible. The student then has to jump between them as they phonetically sound out the word.
Guess the word
Have students write down a random set of words, which are then muddled up in the middle of the table. One member of the group can then draw one out and give the others clues for guessing (“it begins with /bl/”).
A quick note on teaching phonics
It’s best to teach phonics systematically, with a clear sequence of specific wordlists for each letter sound.
But let’s be honest, we’re not all that organised at the start of the year. And if you’re one of the many teachers who haven’t taught a phonics program before, it’s likely just as new to you as it is to your students.
Fortunately, that doesn’t have to stop you from delivering an engaging and comprehensive phonics program with your early learners.
ABC Reading Eggs is an early learners’ reading program that comes complete with an inbuilt phonics program. In it, you and your students will find hundreds of exciting activities that teach such key phonics skills as:
- Letter-sound recognition
- Phonetic spelling
The best part? Students can access all these activities whenever and wherever they have a device. Pretty soon they’ll be honing their phonetic skills even without your help.
Interested? Start a free trial today for 30 days of access to the program and all its resources.