What is Phonics and Why is it Important!
Phonics is a reading skill that teaches learners to match the sounds of a language, this enables students to use decoding strategies to read the written form of words. This skill then enables them to be able to decode unfamiliar words by decoding or deconstructing them to their individual sounds. As this progresses more emphasis can go onto reading comprehension skills which is how we instill a love of reading into children and when they start to progress from learning to read, not reading to learn.
We have chosen some of the best activities that are suitable to get this reading skills process started both at home and in classrooms and highlighted them below.
Enjoy your reading journey!
Below we have added 15 phonics activities includes connect four, flip phonics, mystery phonics and more from our and others websites that we as teachers use for both our students and our own kids as well. We will keep updating this pages as we make and find more 🙂
1.Phonics Connect Four.
I have been using these phonics activities for quite a few years now. The idea came to me after I found an old original connect four game in my school and wrote the sounds of the alphabet, and then as there were more than 26 red and yellow counters, some of the other phonic sounds in English on them. Then the students have to say the sound before they can drop the counter into the game.
This is a ‘’take’’ on that game, my school wasn’t going to pay for 15 or so connect four games so I sat down and tried to put it on paper. The game is very similar. Except with the paper version they have to roll a dice and say the sound on the number the dice shows them. They then cover it up. I play one of two ways, either try to get four in a row or the one with the most sounds covered at the end of the game is the winner.
These have also been designed to fit whatever phonics topic you are covering at that moment. So I have single sounds onset and rime, CVC words, digraphs and blending words and Magic E. They are perhaps a little dated at the moment ( It was one of the first resources I put on the site, but its on an ever increasing list of things to update) one additional bonus… they are totally free to download 😊
2. I Have! Who Has?
I can not claim the idea for this phonics activity at all, a teacher friend of mine pointed it out to me, and another teacher to him and down the lone the idea goes. It is a simple concept that aims to practice speaking, reading and listening in one whole class activity. For that it is awesome. On each paper there are two sentences, and maybe a picture if needed, mine have pictures where appropriate.
- The Students take a card and the teacher chooses one to go first.
- That students stands up and says I have cat (what ever it is) who has bat whatever it is
- Then the student with that word or sound has to listen and stand up and say I have bat who has hat
- The activity continues till all have tried their cards and had a turn. On these cards can be anything you like.
I have some sets that cover sounds digraphs, CVC words and Magic E to get you started. It is a really great activitiy that involves the whole class, takes about 10 minutes and covers three of the language skills they all need practice on
3. Phonics Bingo
I don’t think this needs much explanation as I am sure that 99.9% of teachers will have used this at some point in their classrooms. However, I have a few sets on the site, that include vowels CVC and sounds, and even magic E. These are due an update soon as well. (its on my list to improve them in the next month – as I said its quite a long list now though!) There are 16 different versions of each topic so enough for half a class though I prefer to share a card between two students.
There are more professional sets here
4. Soundopoly Phonics Game.
I though of this when I saw my students trying to play some version or other of monopoly a parent had brought in for some games day. They were struggling with a word and I thought how about making it a phonics one. So I have. You will need to make or use something for the pieces and I have changed the cards from chance to phonics questions. However, the basic premise of getting round the board, once or twice is still there, they have to try to get to 100 points as well. With out the need for piles of money or houses and hotels!
This one looks better if you can print and laminate it on to A3. And we have a video to help with instructions.
5. Fishing for Phonics
In the age-old teaching tradition of beg, borrow and well not steal, I saw this online an thought what a great idea as a station learning activity for kindergarten and grade one. You can pic up magnets and plastic fishing rods pretty cheaply and discount shops and pound shops and attach paper clips to the sounds. Students then have to fish sounds out of the bucket / bin or what ever container you wish to either say or put together to make a word.
I have linked in below the sight word version to give an idea.
6. Swap it! Say it:
I love doing this, it is better with cards and either a table or on a board with a magnet. You can put up a CVC word ( or longer but not so easy – I would stick to three sound words as a maximum) with the cards and invite one team ( if you split the class) to come and pick one letter to swap out, then the other team has to say the word.
For the purpose of this activity I would suggest having three separate piles of letters, one for the beginning, middle and end. With the middle one being just vowels. This way each time they change the letter it will make a new CVC word. For the beginning and ending sounds it would be worth leaving some letters out like q, (H, q, y, w at the end) and of course the vowels at beginning and end as well . You can make the sound son paper or you can pick up a sent of either alphabet cards or phonics cards for about 2-3 USD.
7. Phonics Rainbow Hop
I found this on fun learning for kids, it’s a nice simple and active activity. It is also easy to prepare. You just have to draw 26 (or 46 if you are going for the full range of phonetic sounds) circles. You can use a plate to draw these, and use coloured paper if you have. If you wanted to you could also get your students or children involved in making it by writing the letters and sounds. You can then put them in the shape of an arch or rainbow on the floor. Students can then try to get to the pot of gold / book/ candy at the end. They roll a dice and have to hop to the number / letter. You can do this in order of the alphabet or if you want to make it more challenging you can mix the letter / sounds order up. Even better if played with teams or pairs.
8. Countdown game online (and Board game)
I am not sure if we can call this a phonics game as its clearly a spelling game, but the way it is presented is really useful for checking sound comprehension and to teach vowels and consonants. It is based in an old English TV show and can be made for table top use as well.
Players have to pick a selection of vowels and consonants up to 9 letters. These are placed in a row and then they have 30 seconds ( or longer if needed) to come up with a word from those letters. I focus on CVC or even 2 letter words with my students.
Variations include finding as many words as they can, using an S to make plurals. I will try to find the better version as there are some very basic sites hosting this game but I did fine one good one! online and below is the board game version.
9. Happy Slappy Flappy Phonics.
An old classic from the days of ESL and Kindergarten. You need a couple (they break pretty easy so maybe some spares) of flay swats and either some cards or a board to write the sounds on. One or two players can play this and you just call out a sound and the first one to hit the correct one. In a classroom setting you can play to five or ten and keep score on the board. A great cheap and easy repeatable game. We have a link to the sight word option in the picture, although you can make your own to fit what ever topic works for you.
10. Flip Phonics (coming soon)
This is our phonics card game, and we are quite proud of it. There are 52 cards with 3 levelled phonics tasks on each one, with 10 cards of forfeits for the game. We are in the process of producing this and will put it up once it finishes production. It is for up to 4 players and can be levelled depending on your students.
11. Roll and Read
This is a printable phonics activity that can be played by just one player (or more). It covers single sounds all the way up to sentences ( simple CVC sentences) Players just have to roll a dice and say the word that matches the number. They can keep score of how many they manage to get, but the winner is the one who gets to ten of the same sound or word first. A simple gap filler for students that finish early if you are in a classroom setting.
12. Color and Say – coloring worksheets
Not really a game, but this phonics activity uses coloring. As we know coloring and kindergarten go hand in hand. We have made a few versions of this activity, the one highlighted here is the Short vowel coloring sheet. Students simply have to spot the short vowel words (all CVC) and color them according to the color key on the paper. We have added an animal aspect to make it easier and so it can be used as a teaching aid in classes rather than just a consolidation task (though it can be used as that as well) These are insanely popular (and take ages to make!!) they are in our short and long vowel vowel workbook as well. Check that out here.
13. Magnetic Phonics
Most Kindergartens and schools are likely to have magnetic letters somewhere in their supplies. If you are homeschooling they can be picked up pretty cheaply from Amazon or discount or toy shops. Where ever you get them they are very useful both in the home and classroom. For this phonics activity you may need a little space. If you have a shed or garage in the garden, or a black board in the classroom that is magnetic, or even the kitchen fridge you place the letters on the side of the surface and spread them out. You have your students or children stand a little way back and then say a sound , they have to run to the board and try to find the sound and then run back and put it in the bowl or container. If you have more than one child or student it is worth having more than one set (to stop the tussles if they both go for the same sound at the same time.) The winner can be the first to 10 or until they are tired out! It is also a good way to teach capital and small letters if you need to for preschoolers.
14. Mystery Phonics
This mystery phonics activity is great for preschoolers and kindergarten ages, and even up to primary. you just have to fill a large bottle with same or small pebbles and put small items in that begin with different sounds. then you can use your alphabet cards or phonics cards and flip one over. Then your child has to shake and wobble the bottle to try to find the item that starts with that sound. Will keep them entertained for ages! Full instructions can be found on Imagination Tree .
15. Spin and Say Phonics
There is a great site called no time for flash cards that has all sorts of crafty activities for kindergarten and preschool. This activity needs a coat hanger and some kitchen or toilet roll inserts (the card board tube) you simply cut the toilet roll into sections and write four initial sounds on one section, and then have some other changeable sections where you write the minimal pairs, at , an, et, in etc. then the students can pin the beginning sound and the ”rime” and try to say the word it forms. We actually made an online and mobile version of this as well for free, but this is way more cute! You could also get your students to make it themselves which gives them ownership of it.
About the Author
Hi I’m Marc. A teacher of over 15 years, mostly English but dabbled in outdoor pursuits and media. Thought is was about time to sharing both what I have learnt during that time and the resources I have put together. On this site we aim to teach the theory and share our thoughts, but also go that one step further and give you access to the hard resources you need for your class or for you children. Feel free to take a look at our resources, email us on firstname.lastname@example.org, or jump on the Facebook group to ask questions. Happy learning, teaching or playing!