How do you teach phonics to children at home

Here you will find resources, games and activities to help you both in school and in homes. However, teaching phonics to your children is going to take a little background knowledge, patience and time. Taking that time and a little patience is going to have huge benefits to instill the skills, confidence and love of reading that can turn those emergent readers into fluent ones. Moving from learning to read and onto reading to learn.

Schools are an integral part of this journey of course, but they are not the only key factor. Depending where you are reading this it is likely schools now follow a more systematic approach to the teaching of reading and reading skills and this will include phonics. I remember when I went to school, a long time ago, we didn’t learn phonics. The only reason I can speak to you with any semblance of authority is that I am now an English teacher of more years than I care to admit. The vast majority of this time has been involved in the teaching of reading and phonics skills to young children.

Without a little knowledge it is both unfair and obviously very difficult to help your child learn these skills. To help parents and teachers start to help students with these skills we have put together this guide to help all those who are looking for a start on how to get phonics and reading from the classroom and into the home as well.

The good news is you don’t have to spend 15 years teaching it to be able to do this. (I let how long slip, didn’t I!)

Why is learning phonics important?

Let’s start with what are phonics. We have some of the terms listed at the bottom of the article in case you need them. Phonics are a way of teaching reading, spelling and writing. It encourages children to recognize the different sounds of the English language and can be thought of as a code. Once children recognize the sounds of English and the symbol (letter) they can use this to decode words and attempt unfamiliar or more difficult words. This also helps with spelling, at least of phonetic words. In the initial stages of phonics instruction children can learn a set of sounds, for example with the Jolly Phonics order, S, A, T, P, N, I. Once they have practiced and learned these sounds we can teach them to blend into both new and familiar words. ‘sat’, ‘pat’, ‘tap’, ‘taps’, ‘past’. This is where the skill set for reading starts to be developed and where their journey really starts.

Increasing numbers of schools around the world are now systematically teaching phonics, often starting in kindergarten and earlier. In the earlier years this is often by practicing listening to sounds with the use of songs and similar. This allows children to develop the skills to differentiate between sounds and more specifically the sounds of language. For my class in primary one (I teach in Hong Kong so six years old to 12 years old) we work on constructing and decoding simple three letter words with short vowels, it moves on to vowels, digraphs and blending skills. You don’t have to take my word for it, there have been countless studies undertaken on the effectiveness of phonics both systematic and otherwise.

Now depending if English is being taught as a native or as a second language it’s going to impact on how long some of these skills will take to learn, but the point is they will be learned it just takes practice and patience. As children develop these skills they can increase the difficulty of the texts they read, and as that increases so does their reading confidence and their purpose for reading.  

It is better to try to use books and texts that are suitable and engaging at all levels and once children have developed some phonic skills is is easier to target their interests and increase their motivation to read. I LOVE doing lessons on space, nature, animals and dinosaurs with my class and their natural enthusiasm for the subjects is carried not just through to the subject matter, it also extends to the reading skills. So even though they are learning to read, there are now elements of reading to learn as well. In my classes this is with second language learners, and it really is rewarding for both them and I to be able to read and discuss in a foreign language a subject they may not have full understanding of in their native language. It is the main reason I keep doing what I do.

So how can you help your children learn phonics at home

It is better to split this into year groups, but as mentioned above it’s a guide, all students learn at different paces. All students have different levels of ability, focus and prior knowledge. You may be teaching it as a native language, or you may be teaching it as a second language, so feel free to mix up our advice below based on your circumstances. How ever the following few tips are for all ages and we will offer resources and activities where needed, or where we know of them.

Little, Fun and Often is the best approach. School is school and home is home, like you, children don’t want to come home and do work. The plan is to give them the skills so they can read what they like, when they like. Treat it like this at home as well, no matter if preschool or grade 4 make sure they enjoy the time with you and don’t make it feel to much like some extra parental homework!

  • Keep the session short, 10 to 15 mins is more than enough. You don’t want to put them off.
  • Make it fun, we have a whole website of activities, resources, apps and more to help with this. Try to make it something that they look forward to.
  • Find a quiet place, you can involve brothers and sisters if it’s a game of similar, but don’t allow older ones to dominate. Its about developing those skills not showing off.
  • Try to schedule it regularly, 2/3 or more times a week. Reading skills, including phonics are developed over time and like most skills they need to be practiced to improve on and retain.
  • Even when they are reading on their own and have progressed into an independent reader, keep reading with them, it helps show them the importance and it’s a great thing to do. Enjoy it before they get to old for it!
  • Don’t forget to ask the teacher for help and advice if you want ideas or are starting to feel a little lost. They do it, if like me, for 40 hours a week, and they or the school can be a great source of help. They will also be happy to see a parent taking such an interest in the development of their children.

Kindergarten and Early Years

Developmentally children at these years are able to learn at an astonishing rate. Although it is a little to soon to be putting copies of Shakespeare in their hands 😊 it’s too heavy for starters! It is a good time  to start them developing skills they can carry forward into later years.

In these classes there will be lots of songs, teachers will go through the names of the alphabet and associate them with words familiar to the students, a is for apple, b is for ball etc. These songs and chants will help students develop reading listening skills and the ability to listen to and differentiate between different sounds. ( just as a tip the difference between short vowels is often problematic E, and I in particular)

In class students will be focusing on the following.

  • Listening to songs and sounds and repeating or emulating them.
  • Spotting rhyming words in chants and simple stories and maybe trying to think of their own 
  • Trying to split words into their sounds (this is called segmenting or deconstructing) so c-a-t, b-a-t. these can also be introduced as onset and rime. With onset being the first sound, and rime being the last two. This way they can be taught systematically how to blend sounds.  It also means they can be called on so say any words with the sounds they have learned.
  • Once these single sounds, and onset and rime have been introduced it gives them a chance to start to read simple texts, (we have them on this site here) these can be familiar words, sight words or CVC readers. We have free and premium versions if you need.

So what can you do to help?

  • Your children will have interests, now these could be anything, depending on where in the world you are and when you are reading this. Either way, use those interests to help their enthusiasm and motivation. If they like animals, look at resources about animals ( we have a few of these as well) , try a jigsaw puzzle of an animals names and say the sounds for them to put it back together as a word. Read books, play cards games (yep we have those too). If it’s a dinosaur do the same, ask them to say the sound the animal makes and try to phonetically spell it with the sounds they know. (here is a link to some animals that I do just that in my classrooms) I also use dinosaur names as I love them being able to say such difficult words using their own skills, but this may be for a later stage. What ever their interest try to incorporate it into your 10 minute sessions.
  • Ask them to copy sounds when you are out, cars, dogs, birds, whatever is around. The idea is to get them understanding what is sound and how to make them and hear the difference.
  • A favorite of mine is to sing songs with your students, or watch made for kindergarten videos, I will link some here that I use but Alphablocks are great if you want to google them. I don’t just use Nursery rhymes, I also use phonics songs that target sounds.
  • Play games with them, again loads on the site. Bingo, Uno, Connect four,  card games, there is a great one called trugs that my students like and we are even making one of our own at the moment. If we have finished it then feel free to click here. If not it will be there  soon!
  • These are a pretty good partner site if your looking for story book ideas Times Tales® Classroom Storybook Deluxe

First Grade /  Primary One / First Year

Once your children have entered primary school, they should be introduced to phonics specifically and systematically at a much more frequent rate, although it is still about play and fun there will be more structure to the tasks given. Your school could be using a paid for programme like Jolly Phonics or the more holistic

However, whichever way it is being taught it is likely to follow the following rules, if not the order.

  • Sounds will be taught properly ( this helps blending words) this means no schwa at the end of the word.- let me get technical for a second- for too long people have introduced sounds with a schwa at the end, a schwa is the sound like at the end of paper. This interferes in sounds like b, c, d, p, r, l, s where it is added for ease but not effectiveness.
  • Hopefully your school is teaching these the correct way, ( if second language it may not be – just to be aware)
  • Once the individual sounds have been learnt schools will move on to the more complex sounds, and their varying spellings (this is more tricky) Sounds like x and j, digraphs and diphthongs ( see below) but 2 or 3 letters that go together to make one sound. (sh, ch, ai, oa for example)
  • Then children can start to combine these with blending sounds like, bl, gl, gr, etc. If native language this is likely to be covered in year one, for second language it may take up to grade 3.

What can you do to help your children

  • The games you played before will work just as well now, just change up the sounds, or versions to make them more advanced or leveled for your children (if you are using ours we have multiple versions for phonics instruction)
  • If the school has a home reading scheme, take some time each week to let them read to you, enjoyably and not as a test. Maybe let them read you a bedtime story!
  • Put phonics into these story times, let them tell you the sounds of a word, or how many sounds that word has, or can they think of any words that begin or end with that sound.
  • Ask your children to find words or sounds in the text.
  • It is important to start to show real word use of reading early on, and doing this using television adverts, road or street signs, menus in restaurants, or shop names all offer the chance for your children to show and practice their phonic skills.

Year 1/2 / Grade 1/2 / First and Second year

By this stage your children (native remember, if second language this is going to take longer and that absolutely fine!) they are likely to be able to read simple words and simple books. Now the more challenging skills are introduced. This will take longer, but by this stage the patterns of English should start to become apparent and although more challenging, your children should be prepared for it.

Now they start to move on to different spellings of these sounds, especially long vowel patterns. Try saying the following words shy, cherry, day, and yellow and telling me what sound ‘’y’’ makes. (this is what I meant by more challenging) Magic E is another challenging phonetic rule, that applies, like most things in the English language, most but not all of the time.

Also children will start to learn about confusing rules, like read and read, head and bead, and soft and hard ‘’c’’ and ‘’g’’ which are difficult, but for the most part have rules that can be applied.


How to keep the phonics going at home

  • keep reading with them, by now more complex books will be turning up in your children’s school bag and some support will help a lot. If possible, go to the book store or library and encourage your children to choose book that follow their own interests. Make sure they are age / level appropriate where you can – we have some here – single page readers for the most part – these will help if needed. The aim is to instill a love of reading
  • Let them take a look at the book you are reading, it will be beyond their level in all likelihood but you can help them, and it helps with confidence if timed correctly. If you happen to be a doctor or lawyer may not those books though 😛
  • Use games still, they are getting better at phonics and developing those reading skills but it is unlikely your child is as worried as much about the college application as you are, and they are still in it for the enjoyment. Make sure that still plays a major factor.
  • Use flash cards, you can make them yourself or easily print off from google, or use our resources with some of the sounds and spellings of sounds they will be covering, and don’t be afraid to ask their teacher what sounds they are doing at the moment. You may be able to get your hands on copies of some of their resources and save yourself a job.

Year 2/3 primary 2/3 first and second year

Schools will be starting to move towards phonics for spelling, or if not move towards then adding phonics for spelling. Although not a one size fits all answer, phonics really can help children learn to spell.

It is likely their teacher will still be revising or reinforcing the phonics from the previous years just to make sure its properly learnt but there will be more non fiction texts and elements of reading for information, and comprehension. We also have single page readers for this purpose as well.

This can be a challenge in schools, so at home definitely focus on books that they want to read where you can, so…

Teaching phonics to a grade 2

  • It is important to show them what reading can give them. Allow them to choose both fiction and non fiction books they are interested in. Keep showing them the value, and keep sharing that reading time.
  • By now, hopefully, you will have realized why we said little and often. Don’t push them and be supportive. With reading sessions they may want to read on their own, so just allow them, but ask them to read one or two pages with you just to make sure how it sounds in their head, is how it sounds when it is spoken as well.
  • Teach by example, put down the remote ( not judging here) and pick up a book. So much is learnt through environment and emulation we forget how important it can be!!
  • Use reading in real situations, if they want a pet, or have a pet, ask them to find out how to care for it, if going to a theme park or on holiday ask them to read about it and tell you. This is helping to develop comprehension skills as well as phonic skills, and can allow them to expand vocabulary as they read higher grade texts.
  • As always the school is there to help, so find out what they are covering and ask for help where needed

As promised: Some of those ‘’teacher terms’’ you have no reason to know just yet.

Phonics: the sounds of a language and the relationship between those sounds and its letters or symbols

Decoding: using phonics to vocalise words, or cut the sounds to make a word.

Digraph: multiple, usually 2, letters that make one sound. Eigh, ai, ee, oa, ou, sh, ch, th, aigh. They can be vowel or consonant and vowel digraphs are sometimes called Diphthongs

Phoneme: the smallest until of sound. One sound.

Blending: putting sounds together to make a word.

High-frequency words – Sight words: these are words that are often unable to be decoded. So we teach them using rote learning, or by sight, why, where, what, one two, etc.

Funny old language English isn’t 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 info@makingenglishfun.com, or jump on the Facebook group to ask questions. Happy learning, teaching or playing!

100 + Free CVC Worksheets, Activities and games.

Making English Fun

Here you will find 1000’s of free CVC worksheets, games and activities for teaching CVC words and sound blending. Teaching CVC skills and segmenting words is an important phonetic skill accords the year groups from kindergarten, second language students and ESL students all the way to first grade and primary students.

These CVC blending and reading skills help to develop reading skills that will last a lifetime. We have FREE board games, online games for both classroom and as apps, activities and of course the tried and tested worksheets. All these CVC word worksheets, games and activities are free to download for teachers, homeschoolers and anyone else who needs to practice or to teach students how to develop these CVC skills.

I will split these up into sections just to make it easier, so if you need to jump to the right section just use the links below. They should take you where you need to be 😊

FREE CVC worksheets

I am a teacher, an English teacher actually, in Hong Kong. A large part of my role is skills, rather than knowledge teaching. To do this I have to take it back to basics, those basics are simple word construction and initial, medial and final sound recognition. This all depends on the level of my students, but one of my most important aims is to have students constructing and deconstructing simple CVC words. This selection of free CVC worksheets are my favourite ones I have made, and a selection of the best ones I have found. These all are click and print so you don’t have to sign in or provide your email login.

4 medial vowel CVC worksheets

A set of 4 CVC medial vowel worksheets great for short vowel practice.

Read write colour CVC worksheets

4 Different Read Write and Colour CVC worksheets. Perfect for younger learners.

CVC wordsearch
4 CVC Word Searches

4 Different CVC word search and colouring, usable for writing practice as well.

10 CVC Word Sort Worksheets

10 Different cut and paste CVC Word sort activity for younger learners.

Rhyming pairs Worksheet Short vowels and CVC
5 Rhyming Pairs Worksheets

Rhyming is a great way to practice CVC and oneset and rime.

Which Vowel CVC Phonics Worksheets
3 Which Vowel Worksheets

Which vowel worksheets teach the sounds of short vowels.

short e CVC Phonics worksheet
10 CVC scramble Worksheets

10 different CVC scramble worksheets. Great for beginning spelling practice.

Free Short vowel A Colouring Phonics worksheets
Colour the short vowel worksheets

5 individual and 1 mixed colour the short vowel, these are great for sound recognition.

Farming for Vowels Phonics worksheet
5 Farming for Phonics Worksheets

Farming for phonics CVC worksheets and word sort.

Phonics Maze Short vowel U Worksheet
5 Space phonics Worksheets

A space themed set of five phonics and CVC worksheets.

Colour the Rhyme Short Vowels Worksheet
5 Rhyming Pairs Worksheets

4 CVC and Rhyming colouring worksheets

Long and Short vowel worksheets
3 CVC and Vowel Sort Worksheets

Long and Short vowel sorting worksheets.

140 CVC Short Vowel Worksheets
Fishing for Phonics worksheet
7 Fishing for Phonics Worksheets
find the rhymes worksheet
4 Find the Rhymes worksheet
10 Word Families CVC Worksheets

FREE Online CVC games

The future is here, and because of the pandemic it arrived a little earlier than most of us (me included!) were prepared for. Lockdowns and school closures put millions of students into a fairly haphazard and disjointed online learning environment. I had been using the online CVC games below in class, and they were reasonably useful for zoom classes as well. Yes, I tried to use online CVC games in zoom classrooms with six years olds! Some worked, some didn’t. Hey, we are all learning, right? I will put a little note on each one mentioning if I think its suitable for online group classrooms.

Some of these are mine, mainly because I made this in both app and online versions for my own needs, but 500,000 people now use them yearly so they have uses outside of my own classrooms as well. There are some of the better ones from others here as well. These are all playable online on PC, and some are also apps on the app store as well if you needed to download as phonics apps for classrooms.

Phonics and English games
CVC blitz – Four Phonics games in one

This a very user friendly game. 4 different ways of teaching CVC words. matching, spelling, listening and a quiz.

Online suitable, quiz is zoom suitable

Is also an app on Apple

Phonics Hop and Pop

I love playing this in classrooms. Students listen then jump to the correct CVC word. Has 8 other English subjects as well.

Very online suitable, not zoom

Also an App on Google and Apple

sentence builder
Sentence Builder

Learn how to put simple sentences together, including ones containing CVC words

Online suitable, not zoom

As an App on Google as well.

CVC Scramble

Longer version of CVC scramble. Students have to put the letter n the correct order. Picture clues and hints

not Zoom suitable

App on Google as well.

CVC Generator

This is great in classrooms, it really reinforces the sounds and blending skills of CVC words.

Made for classrooms! , great on zoom

On Google as an app

Swing words and phonics

Follows the phonics order of SATIPN from Jolly phonics and works on word and sound recognition

Online suitable, zoom suitable

On Google as an app as well.

One Stop English

Eight English Subjects, including CVC. Has matching exercises, sound quizzes and more.

not online suitable

Also as an app on Google.

Turtle Diary Short Vowel game

Turtle diary offers this short vowel game. Flash though, so not sure how long it will work.

online suitable and zoom

CVC Board Games and Free Card Games

I love using these phonic and Free CVC board games. There is no better feeling, as a teacher, than setting a task, maybe a little challenging and watching your class put their heads down. When I make that task a CVC Board game or CVC card game it is really REALLY well received by students. It is also self-directed so you can monitor the whole class easier. I have a selection of my own here and links to some cool ones from other creators as well. You will need to print them, and maybe laminate if you want longer use out of them. I also have a paid CVC card game coming out soon, so indulge me if I advertise that on here as well.

Soundopoly 3 versions

Based on Monopoly with game cards and questions about CVC words.

8 sounds and CVC board games

A selection of dice game boards for sounds and CVC.

CVC Board Game Connect four

This is great for groups in classrooms. A connect four CVC game.

CVC matching dominoes

A simple print and cut out CVC dominoes game.

Other FREE CVC printables and CVC reading comprehension worksheets.

There is more to life than CVC Worksheets and games – and I am saying this as a teacher! So I have linked in a range of other phonics and CVC activities, some that require students to put the skills they have practiced and learnt with the resources above into practice. So these are free CVC printables that may be matching tasks, or reading both for comprehension and for word recognition / phonics practice.

CVC bingo 16 cards

Bingo cards for classes. Great game to play with younger children.

The classic I have , who has game for a full class. We have 5 versions of this on the site.

The Fortune teller template for multiple English topics including short vowels.

Other resources for phonics worksheets for kindergarten, ESL and Primary grades

FREE CVC Worksheets and resources are undoubtable useful, but it doesn’t end there. We have linked some other FREE English worksheets and games below that may be useful as you progress with English. So, some of these will be for higher level phonics, digraphs, diphthongs, syllables. Vowels and more. However, it will just be a few to wet your appetite and I will post more in another post. You came here for FREE CVC worksheets and CVC Printables so that’s what this page is! Hope you found them useful.

Don’t miss our sets of grades 1 to 5/6 FREE Reading comprehension cards, these are great for lessons and we have over 100 pages of these now.

If you are looking for some Science or Stem worksheets head over to our portfolio to check out the Kindergarten and primary science lessons we have. I use these in my classes all the time and LOVE introducing quite complex topics in a way that is fun and engaging to young learners.

To check out all our resources we have an organised page with all our resources on them right here

And in the style of Steve Jobs, Just one more thing.

I should probably have put this at the top of this post, but I am presuming if you are searching for FREE CVC worksheets you are probably going to know what they are. However, just in case here we go.

In phonics we have a lot of jargon to help teachers understand (or to confuse them- we are still unsure about this) One of these collections of jargon and abbreviations is CVC. It simply stands for Consonant – Vowel – Consonant. These are made of some of the simplest words in English all containing a short vowel sound. They are perfect for emergent readers as they use single sounds that can be blended together to make words. When students have grasped the concept you can add CCVC (you can probably worth that out) and then CCvCC ( and I am fairly sure you can work out this one as well)

Post by Marc of Making English Fun

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 info@makingenglishfun.com, or jump on the Facebook group to ask questions. Happy learning, teaching or playing!

100+ Fantastic Fun Phonics Worksheets and activities

What is Phonics?

Phonics is a reading skill that enables students to decode language. It teaches the relationship between the sounds (phonemes) and the letters (graphemes). In younger years it is a proven way of teaching children to read effectively and to prevent and correct reading difficulties. It is important to introduce phonics and the sounds of English early and to consolidate them. It is equally important to approach this systematically and introduce simple letter sound relationships before progressing to the more complex and challenging sound combinations.

The phonics worksheets we have linked below will follow this format. We include the following phonics worksheets

We have put these into collections which are also highlighted on the page where needed as well. The individual worksheets are free (we are teachers so know how important that can be) The collections are paid for (to help with the cost of the site)

These resources are used by over half a million teachers worldwide so hope they are useful for you as well!

Why is Phonics Important?

There are countless studies showing the benefits of systematic phonics instruction,).However teaching students and children how to decode sounds to letters is essential. It helps them learn to read unknown words, focus on letter order, and how those sounds then blend into each other to form words. This progresses into reading, and then into comprehension.

  • Phonics helps to increase fluency both with accuracy and speed
  • Phonics will help with comprehension, if students and children cant read a word they are not going to understand it.
  • Phonics will increase confidence, and with it the ability to risk take with their reading
  • Phonics will lead to an increase in vocabulary
  • This increase in vocabulary will lead onto developing reading comprehension strategies

there is of course debate (it is education there is always debate) about if a systematic approach is the most optimal, however there is a consensus that phonics instruction of some sort is a vital part of teaching reading to children.

What Order Should You Teach Phonics?

There is also debate on the actual order of phonics instruction, with the majority suggesting an order of simple sounds first that enable children to form simple words as soon as possible. That order of teaching phonics is in the table below.

Sound Group 1satipn
Sound Group 2c, kehrmd
Sound Group 3goulfb
Sound Group 4aijoaieeeor
Sound Group 5zwngvoooo
Sound Group 6yxchshthth
Sound Group 7quouoiueerar

Although this order is regarded as the optimal way to introduce phonics, it is very likely that kindergarten and preschoolers will learn the phonics order as the order of the alphabet. This is just the way it will be introduced. (it is very difficult to get teachers to stop using the Abc song and start using the phonics song. Which is still in the order of the alphabet! We will introduce worksheets and activities as stand alone exercises and you can use them as you see fit no matter which order you decide to teach the sounds.

Initial Sounds

Below are the selection of phonics and alphabet worksheets and resources. They are designed for younger learners, and allow teachers and parents to introduce the sounds of the English alphabet in a methodical and child friendly way. They include tracing sheets to help with both reading and writing and initial sounds worksheets to help build sound recognition and vocabulary. We have much more on the site so feel free to browse if you need more or are looking for something different.

ABC alphabet Beautiful Worksheets A-Z
ABC Worksheets
Animal Alphabet Cards
Alphabet Tracing Worksheets
Initial Sound Worksheets
Middle Vowel Worksheets
Missing Vowel Worksheet Free
Sounds Board Game

The above phonics worksheets are 6 examples of free worksheets and activities you can use to practice single sounds with your students and children. You can do this as consolidation or as a ‘sound dictation activity where you say the sounds ( not the letter name) and your children have to try to listen, decode then write it in the correct box. We have also included phonics and alphabet cards to help practice reading and speaking the sounds. We have many more on the site and in our workbooks.

Word Construction – ”Rime” and CVC Words.

Following on from teaching single sounds, and once your students are ready, is the teaching of blending those sounds to make simple words. (the beauty of phonics is that it can progress as your students do not as the curriculum dictates) These words more often than not are ”consonant-vowel-consonant” words. If following the s-a-t-i-p-n order then these words would include sat, pin, pat, tap etc. Which allows students to use the sounds they have learnt from group one to try to blend the sounds together to produce words. If your kindergarten or preschool or even primary school is not following this the procedure is the same, just with more options (so potentially more pitfalls- you can start to see the reason why there are advocates for slowing down the focus onto less sounds and more skills at this point)

Either way we have examples of phonics worksheets you can use for both systems, but with more emphasis on the whole alphabet method as it is probably the most likely approach used with your students and children. Below you will find a collection of CVC readers, phonics worksheets and resources to use in your classrooms and homes. We also have more, a lot more, phonics worksheets, games, activities and mobile / online apps here as well. If you want the full set we have it here for sounds and CVC phonics.

Online CVC Generator
FREE CVC phonics Short vowel worksheet
CVC Scramble Worksheets
CVC Board Game
Read Write Color CVC
CVC wordsearch
CVC Word Search
FREE CVC Reading Cards and Worksheets
CVC Readers and Questions
CVC and short vowel Poems
CVC Poems and Questions
Short Vowel maze Phonics Worksheet Set
Space Phonics – CVC
Phonics Onset and Rime Fishing for Phonics worksheets
Fishing for phonics – CVC
CVC and more Phonics Board Game
CVC Worksheet
Word Family – CVC

CVC word sort short vowels worksheets
CVC Sort Worksheets

These are just a small selection of the hundreds of free and premium version we have here on the site and available on other sites as well. However these sites are often subscription, and offer one worksheet at a time to download. We prefer to give (or sell) packs to help teachers and homeschoolers with phonics Learning how to blend single sounds into minimal pairs (at, in, ot, en, op etc) and then into simple words is a huge step for young readers. It allows them to pick up levelled texts and read using the skills they have developed. This is a first step towards fluency and a huge boost to motivation, confidence and interest. We do have a selection of free apps to help consolidate this skill and also board games and activities as well. As varying up how you present and practice phonics with students is going to help keep them engaged.

Vowel Worksheets

We will split this section into short sounds and long sounds. Short are the easier for students to grasp as they feature in the CVC practice above. However vowels, and the vowel sounds of English can be difficult. Longer vowels in particular can be a challenge. We offer more phonics worksheets and activities aimed at covering long vowels in the next section to help students practice these as well.

We have a 50 page long and short vowel workbook that covers and offers more than we can put on this page!

Farming for Vowels Phonics worksheet
Short and long vowel Farm Phonics
Free Short Vowel Colouring CVC Phonics worksheets
Short Vowel Coloring CVC Phonics worksheets
Which Vowel CVC Phonics Worksheets
missing vowel worksheet free
Missing Vowel and Digraph
Phonics Bingo
CVC and Short Vowel Bingo
Has both CVC and Vowel games

Long Vowel Worksheets

Long vowel sounds can be tricky for beginning readers. The sheer number of them to start, and the huge number of ways they can be spelled can cause confusion. To help with this we have split these worksheets up into different ”types” of long vowel spelling, including diphthongs, vowel digraphs, magic E, r controlled vowels and Y as a vowel sound. We also, where needed, explain in more detail some of the rules in posts on the site. We will link to these in the top section to help if you need. For navigations sake we will split up these different types with headings to make it easier for you. You can also check out our 50 plus page long and short vowel workbook which has loads of worksheets activities and games.

Magic E Worksheets and Activities;

Magic E is the phonics rule that (usually) if there is an e at the end of a word it is silent, and causes the vowel before it to say its name. For example: cane, pale, pine, cube.

Magic E scramble Phonics Worksheets
Magic E worksheets
Magic E Bingo

Vowel Digraphs and Diphthongs

Although similar there are differences between these two phonics terms. Digraphs are (clue is in the name) two letters that make a sound, in vowel digraphs this is often a long sound. There is a song, and great teaching aid, that says ‘‘when two vowels go walking the first one does the talking” with the rule that the first sound says it name and the other is silent. In words like rain, boat, coal.

Diphthongs are two sounds that come together to make a new sound. For example oi, oy, aw, au, ow. Check out our examples below for phonics worksheets.

Free Short Vowel Colouring CVC Phonics worksheets
Long and short vowel colouring
Farming for Vowels Phonics worksheet
Farming for phonics vowels
Long vowel sorting worksheet
Find the vowel worksheets
Find the vowel Worksheets
Vowel spelling
Which vowel Worksheets
y as a vowel worksheets
y as a vowel
Long and Short Vowel sort

Consonant Digraph and Blends Worksheets

Consonant digraphs and blends are often confused by emergent readers ( and by teachers) so just to clarify a consonant blend is two sounds that blend together to make a sum of their parts, you are still able to hear both sounds when you read them. A consonant digraph is two consonants that come together to form a new sound. There are many more blends than digraphs. We offer Phonics worksheets to cover both skills below and we also have a full 60 page workbook that covers much more.

Colour the digraph Phonics worksheets Wh Ch sh
Digraph Scramble phonics Worksheets
FREE Digraph word families Worksheet
FREE Digraph word families Worksheet
Digraph and Blend wordsearch
Colour the digraph and blends Phonics worksheets.
Colour the digraph and blends Phonics worksheets.


Once students have grasped the basics of the phonics rules above we can move onto larger and more complex words. These often include the use of syllables. These are one of my favorite things to teach students, as you see previously difficult or skipped words suddenly become easy and straight forward. We have a small section of worksheets below to take a look at. and a link to a mini lesson on YouTube that may help as well. We also have apps that cover syllables if you want to try to vary how you instruct the topic.

Syllables Worksheets
Leveled syllable worksheets
Phonics and English Games for young learners
4 Levelled Syllable Worksheets.

We have many more phonics worksheets on the site, as well as grammar and topic related resources. We also have articles on how to teach phonics at differing age ranges and abilities as well. you will find them linked below. These all written by teachers and educators.

As mentioned in the opening paragraph phonics is a vital skill to help develop both mastery and more importantly a love of reading in young learners. The earlier they can move to comprehend the words they are reading the earlier that love affair can start.

You will be amazed at the progress your students make if you can spare the time to include a little phonics instruction into their days. It doesn’t have to be hours and hours, just little and often. Hopefully some of the apps and worksheets we have on the site can help with this.

Hope you found these useful 🙂

Fabulous Phonics Activities For Kindergarten and Preschool

Free Phonics Activities

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.

Connect Four Phonics

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 have Who Has Phonics

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

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.

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)

Count down phonics 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

a selection of Roll and read phonics worksheets

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

Free Short Vowel Colouring CVC Phonics 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 info@makingenglishfun.com, or jump on the Facebook group to ask questions. Happy learning, teaching or playing!

How to Teach making Inferences Reading Stratagy

There are thousands of strategies that people might use to improve their reading skills. However, most educators and educational researchers agree that there are seven strategies that have the most impact on student learning. These strategies can be used in conjunction and often work best when they are. Students can combine activating prior knowledge and questioning as we do in other posts. They may also choose to use strategies such as making inferences and determining importance.

What is the Making Inferences Reading Strategy?

Inferring is a reading comprehension strategy that aims to help children and students find information that is not explicitly revealed in a text. The colloquialism would be to read between the lines. For example ”the color drained from her face” could be used to infer the character was scared or shocked. This skill teaches students to attach further meaning to the text and predict or infer author meaning.

Making Inferences

Making inferences can be one of the most challenging strategies children will attempt. Young children are often very literal, and making inferences means that the answers are not right in front of them. One of the questioning strategies we have already covered asks children to think about what they cannot see on the page. For many children, this is difficult. However, it is possible to teach children to make inferences. We have resources and ideas here and in our Reading Strategies workbook to help you with this and other reading strategies.

Strategies for Making Inferences

Many of these strategies help students view things differently. They stop looking at what they can see and start exploring what they cannot. Teaching these strategies is not easy, though. When considering Bloom’s taxonomy, inferencing can help students develop their higher-order thinking skills. These skills are vital to many core subjects, not just language arts. They are skills we all use daily at work and at home. Starting to develop them in children is essential.

Teaching Prediction

Students can learn to make inferences by making predictions. We first have to model making predictions. We should walk students through making those predictions. Young students will often tend to predict things that they want to happen. When teaching students to make predictions, we must have them tell us how they determined what they think. For instance, if they think the protagonist will steal something from the store, ask why they think that will happen. On the other hand, if they think the protagonist will choose not to steal, they should have some clues as well. These should be evidenced from the text to demonstrate to the student that the clues are there, we just have to actively search from them. This is SO important, it is how we change students from being the passive recipients of information and ”truth” to starting to think and form their own opinions based on their experiences and morals.

To model this, read a new story or passage to your child. Ask him or her what might happen next. When your child answers, tell them what you think will happen. Talk about how you made that decision. What context clues from the story helped you make the decision. Continue reading the story. Find out if you were right. Talk about whether or not you were surprised about the actions of the characters.

Let’s go People Watching

Put down the books. Wait, how will that help reading comprehension? You do not have to read to improve your inferencing strategies. While it is a good idea, children can watch others to determine what is happening or what they might do next. When standing in the grocery store, ask your child what they think the person aisle with you is making for dinner. Talk about what ingredients might go into that dish and if you see any of them in their cart.

If you do not want to get that “up close,” watch people walking in the park. Talk about what you think their relationship might be. A man and a woman could be a father and daughter, husband and wife, brother and sister, cousins, or friends. Ask your child why he or she thinks that is their relationship. In addition, ask your child what he or she thinks they are doing in the park. Are they eating a picnic meal? Could they be on a date, celebrating something, or exercising?

All of these develop the skills needed to think beyond just the information we are presented with. It also asks children to activate their prior knowledge which is an equally important skills.

Using Picture Walks For Inferencing

While learning to make inferences, children can begin to look at the pictures in the books they are reading. They can decide what the characters are doing, how they feel, and what they want to do. You can talk to your child about the clues that lead them to the inference. Practice looking at everything on the page in the book. What color is the sky? What kind of face is the character making? Is he or she holding anything? Where are the adults? Other questions may help children predict or make inferences. Asking about thoughts and feelings can help students learn to analyze expressions.

If you want to use pictures outside of a book, you can still have students determine what is happening. What are the people doing? Why are they doing it? You might even have students write a short story about the photograph. Why did they choose that story?, what happens next, how are they feeling, why do you think that. Use as many questioning techniques as possible and children will soon start to use these naturally with less, and then no prompting needed.

We have pictures and other tasks on the site and in the reading skills Workbook for you if you are needing further resources. Although they can be found almost anywhere. These can be used for both inferencing and predicting skill practice.

Jump into a Mystery

Board games like Cluedo (clue), Guess Who or mystery books and even the fighting fantasy books which i loved as a child! can help students analyze things that they don’t usually examine. These games and books can help children look at clues beyond what is on the page. Why did the character or player make the move that they made? What is missing from the scene? How do we know who is present?

Children can learn to look at what they see and fill in the blanks for what they do not see. They can use this to determine what might happen next or the motivation of the characters.

Create a Mystery

Ask your children to write a mystery. Help them determine what information can be left out, but the mystery still be solved. On the other hand, make sure that they know that some information will give away the ending. The mystery may even be like a dinner mystery or weekend mystery that adults sometimes do for fun.

Have them present the family with a mystery (stolen camera, phone, or trinket, for example) and provide clues to solve the mystery. When was the camera stolen? Who was home? Who were they with when the camera went missing? Where was it last seen? Children also have to examine alibies and behaviors.

Inference Cards

Create inference cards that children can easily solve but that they need to make inferences to do so. It could be a “who am I?” game or another similar task. You will give the students enough information to solve the puzzle, but they will need to consider what is on the card and what is not.

Inference cards can be created to accompany a book or other reading material, or they can be self-contained. Students must think about why they are answering the cards in that manner. Guess Who is a great board game for this activity as well.

As mentioned Inferencing is a skill that is so cross curricular it almost defines the word. However it is skill a skill, so it needs to be taught and practiced as regularly as any other skill. Hopefully the ideas above have got you started.

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 info@makingenglishfun.com, or jump on the Facebook group to ask questions. Happy learning, teaching or playing!

How to teach Activating Prior Knowledge

There are plenty of strategies for reading comprehension, but there are seven that are highly recommended by educators and researchers everywhere. These strategies can be easily taught in classrooms, both traditional and homeschool. When you are working with your child, make sure that they start at the beginning and work their way through. Reading comprehension skills are vital to understanding things throughout life, as most instructions and communication requires some degree of reading. We will focus on Using and activating background knowledge in this posts but we have covered all 7 in other posts on the site.

What is Activating Background Knowledge

Activating Prior Knowledge, also referred to as making connections, as a reading comprehension strategy encompasses two main ideas, it is the the enabling of students to access the relevant information they have already learnt, and to be able to identify if that information is absent and use strategies to learn it.

As straightforward as it sounds children, especially younger children will need guidance on how to relate their prior experiences to texts they read and more broadly experiences that happen to them. It is not the logical step it seems to relate two on the surface unrelated events and look for similarities between them, That is where this comprehension skill comes to the fore, it develops the ability to make connections, Indeed it is also commonly, and easier to say, referred to as making connections.

Fortunately there are dozens of ways to encourage and practice activating background knowledge or making connections skills for children and students. We will offer some of those ideas and resources below.

Activities for Activating Background Knowledge

The following activities are simply suggestions to use to help students activate background knowledge and make connections. They may not want to use some of the strategies all of the time, but each of these strategies can and likely will be beneficial to students. There are many more strategies available, but the following will help students build their skills effectively.

How to use K-W-L Charts for reading comprehension.

Graphic organizers can be one of the most effective ways to help children develop reading comprehension skills. K-W-L charts are fantastic tools to help your student activate their prior knowledge. This acronym means know- want to know- and learned. Using this chart can activate their knowledge while simultaneously keeping track of their learning and allow them to develop evaluation strategies.

KWL charts can help students think about what they already know related to the book or reading material. They can view the pictures, read the title or subtitle, and look for any clues to the subject while thinking about the things they already know about these things. As they think about these things, they will also consider what they want to learn and what they want to research. Finally, once the student finishes reading, they can think about the things they learned and how it changes their knowledge now. This is best used when reading nonfiction, but for historical fiction, realistic fiction, or specific books, it can be an excellent tool to use as well. They are able to be used across multiple reading comprehension strategies and you will see us mention them more than a few times in these posts. We also have them in our resources pack you can check out here.

Create an Anticipation Guide

This activity is relatively simple. Students will write things that they think they know about the book or passage. They might write responses to prompts or other keywords. The anticipation guide is similar to a KWL chart in that students are writing the things they already know or feel about a topic, but they do not focus on what they want to know.

You can give your child/ student a chance to think about the topic and any preconceived notions they may have. You can do this through brainstorming, structured prompts, or keywords to write about. You may ask for a set number of sentences or paragraphs or a length of time to write.

  • Brain Dumps are an alternative. Rather than giving a prompt, just let the students dump everything they know on the paper. Talk about misconceptions, stereotypes, or misinformation if it comes up.
  • For young students, you might have them draw pictures or use symbols to create their brain dump/ anticipation guide.

Word or Item Association

This task can work for many age groups. Students will be presented with at least three objects, words, or concepts. They have to decide how these things are linked. Some of these things might be linked in more than one way. For example, orange juice, milk, and water might all be drinks. They might also be things you have at breakfast. For older children, they might be classified as liquids. This can help you assess how much the students already know about things and learn to associate things with several classifications.

Word and item associations can also help students retain knowledge. By associating things from their own lives, they will be more likely to remember that concept. You can also have students tell you all the items they can think of that are related to a concept. For instance, “Name all the liquids you can.” This can also help your students to think about the characteristics that they already know about something. With books it could be can you tell me any other books or movies with the monsters in it while reading the Gruffalo, or any other books with talking animals. Followed by asking can animals talk, if not what kind of book is this etc etc.

Book or Passage Walk

Students can skim through the book or passage and see what words they may recognize and which ones they do not. When they come to a concept they already know about, you can combine the activity with the above if you would like. You can also have students make predictions and create concept maps or graphic organizers of their own.

Have students begin with the cover of the book or the title of the passage. Let them look at the pictures, words, and author listed. Any of these things might trigger prior knowledge. Then, open the book or passage and begin to explore. Are there chapters, sections, or specific groupings? Even in a picture book, you can look for types of pictures, colors, and objects in the scenes to discuss what they already know.

We have also included activities in our resources Workbook that ask students to identify more than just hard knowledge, we ask them to think of a character and compare it to either someone they know in real life or one from another book, or a setting and ask if they have been anywhere like it, or if they can think of somewhere like it, and of course a feeling when reading and when they felt like that before. This again encourages other skills like evaluating(meta-cognition) and inferencing . We will be putting our Reading Comprehension Workbook up in the next few days.

Combine These Activities

Any or all of these activities might be useful to help students activate prior knowledge. Do not be afraid to take a book walk while creating a KWL chart. Write down keywords and everything you know about them as well. Have the students talk about preconceptions, misconceptions, and expectations. Doing these things together can further strengthen the connections students will make while reading. Feeling less confused and more empowered helps children feel ready to learn.

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 info@makingenglishfun.com, or jump on the Facebook group to ask questions. Happy learning, teaching or playing!

How to Teach Questioning Reading Comprehension

The act of questioning should be done whenever we read. However, many adults have stopped doing this and therefore the skill is being neglected with children as well. We learn much more when we ask questions about our reading and vocabulary. We also feel less self-conscious about the things we do not know when we build our questioning skills. In todays world, more than ever, it is important that we question what we read, both in fiction to develop skills and in non fiction and news texts to ensure we can recognize bias and untruth.

What is the Questioning Reading Comprehension Strategy.

Questioning as a reading comprehension strategy encourages readers to engage with the text.  Using questioning strategies will help the reader understand both the meaning and the purpose of the texts they read. It is also the sign of a more developed reader, as there is less emphasis on actually reading the words, as these skills are already developed, and more focus on understanding and comprehending the meaning and intent of the text.

Therefore emergent or younger readers are less likely to us this strategy. Below we have some ideas to introduce it to all levels of reading ability.

Post it and Sticky Notes in the book

Teaching students to use sticky notes can keep them from writing in books or materials you might need to reuse. When students are reading, help them use sticky notes to write down questions about the reading. Students can place sticky notes near the passage that is causing issues. They might write the word or a phrase that they need help learning more about.

These sticky notes can be used to keep track of answers as well. Students can place the note on the paragraph that they are having trouble understanding and note what is tripping them up. They can also jot an explanation on the same sticky note. These sticky notes can also be different colors for different types of notes. For instance, yellow notes might be vocabulary, and blue might be background concepts, while pink is process questions. Using sticky notes also means that things can be rearranged when they need it.

Get the K-W-L Chart back Out

When using the KWL ( what I know, What I want to know and What I learned) chart, we often write down things that we want to know. If your students only wrote the things they already know, this is an excellent opportunity to think about everything they want to know about things. When making their list, emphasize the importance of questioning. We have K-W-L charts on the site and in our Reading Comprehension Resources pack.

Questioning lets us know what we want to know and what our associations are already. Students may ask questions directly related to the reading, but they may also ask questions about the writing process or the knowledge of the author. This will allow you to begin talking about credible material and experts. This is especially good when you are exploring nonfiction topics. Even science fiction and other stories that may require research can bring questions. Is Neil Gaiman a scientist? Why does Dr. Seuss create weird words? Is J.K. Rowling a wizard? While some of these questions may be difficult to answer or unanswerable, but they can also let you know what the children are interested in learning, and the more they know about authors, the more they may connect with the material.

Using Q-A-R

Q-A-R stands for Question-Answer-Relationship. This relationship connection helps students learn where and how to answer questions asked of the text. These questions come from four different relationships with the text. Each relationship connects to a different type of question and “Bloom’s Taxonomy” skill. Bloom’s taxonomy is simply a hierarchy for learning material. Some material is simply known, but with other information, students might be able to synthesize or create from the things they learn.

  • Right There Questions– These are questions that the answer can be derived directly from one or more consecutive words in the text.
    • These questions can be things like, “Who is the main character?” “Where was Jim born?” “Who wrote Pinocchio?” or similar. These questions are on the page with no “reading between the lines.” In Bloom’s terms, this would be knowledge.
  • Think and Search Questions– These questions are not obvious. They are not “right there” in the text. However, they are pretty easy to find. The answer may take place throughout the text or passage.
    • These questions might be, “What are the steps to the scientific method?” “What were the major events in Einstein’s life?” “How does the group react to the news?” or other questions that may require thinking or organizing the information. In terms of Bloom, applying or understanding might be the appropriate categories.
  • The Author and You Questions- These questions ask students to relate the text to their own lives.
    • These questions may be composed of, “Have you ever felt like Anne?” “How would you feel if you suddenly had to move to a new country?” Blooms levels here are applying and synthesizing.
  • On My Own Questions– These questions are questions that cannot be answered in the text. There is no clear answer, but students have to use what they read to answer them.
    • Questions might be, “What do you think Wilson will do next?” “Why do you think Cinderella was the servant in her house?” “Would you buy that car if you could?” In terms of Blooms, this is often considered creation or construction. Students must build more information into the activity.

The relationship between development of Higher Order Thinking and Reading Comprehension Strategies should be becoming more and more apparent. If students can master these strategies it will improve not just their reading skills but also their cognitive abilities both of which will serve them well in the future.


The self-questioning strategy means that children learn to interact with the text. They begin interacting even before reading. This may be through using KWL charts, but it could also be used during a book walk or other previewing strategy. This strategy can then be carried over to the after reading period.

  • Before Reading- What do I know about the subject? Who do I ask if I get stuck on a concept? Are there concepts that I am unfamiliar with already? Do I see vocabulary words? Is there a glossary?
  • During Reading- These questions are like the sticky notes from above. Students can ask questions while reading. They might make notes on a sheet of paper or use sticky notes. Is there a concept that they do not know?
  • After Reading– Sometimes, when we finish reading, we still do not have all of the information we need. Students can be taught to ask the questions they still need to be answered.

Any level student can use these reading comprehension strategies. Even toddlers have prior knowledge and are always full of questions. They just need little guidance and instruction on the types of questions and where to find the answers themselves. These strategies can also help reluctant readers feel more open to reading. They can see that there are things we all know or need to know and that learning new concepts can be a challenge for everyone. If your child struggles with comprehension strategies, you can also show them, guide them, and let them. This would mean that you show them how to use the strategy, guide them through using it, and then let them do it independently. Our resources will help children go through this process much easier you can se them here.

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 info@makingenglishfun.com, or jump on the Facebook group to ask questions. Happy learning, teaching or playing!

How to teach Determining Importance

What is Determining Importance?

Determining Importance as a reading strategy means finding and realizing what is important in a given text. That could be from a page, paragraph or a the whole text or book. It allows us to learn and use prioritization techniques that as important outside reading as inside it.  It develops understanding of texts and relates heavily with summarization and inferencing strategies.

Why teach Determining Importance?

Another crucial task for reading comprehension is determining importance. Often, inferencing, summarizing and determining importance strategies can go hand in hand. Every detail in a story is not important. This is especially true when reading fiction like mysteries and suspense stories. These stories will provide readers with many more details than they need to keep the ending a surprise. It can also be the case in none fiction as well, especially in longer or academic papers. So this skill becomes even more important as children and students progress through their educational journey.

Strategies for Determining Importance

There are many strategies that students may use for determining importance. Some of these strategies are more useful for nonfiction, while others are better for fiction. If the strategy is geared for one or the other, we will let you know when to use it.

Pick Three

Show children five or more items that might be used to do a task and ask them to choose which three items are critical. For instance, you might show them a tire, a key, a pot, a spoon, and chopped vegetables. All of these things may be found in or around a home, but they are not all used for cooking dinner. The pot, spoon, and vegetables, however, would fit that bill. Help children determine which things are important. You could also make it harder for older students. Show them meat, pasta sauce, a pot, a plate, and pasta. Ask the students to determine what is necessary to make cheeseburger macaroni. While some students may first want to choose the pasta sauce, it is not appropriate for making macaroni and cheese.

This activity can help children think about what they need and what is extra or similar but inappropriate. They will also have to think about what they want and need to use to solve their problem.

My School bag

This activity is similar to the one above but makes it a more personal experience. Ask students to take 10 items (if they have) from their school bag and order them form most important for their day to least important. Although there will be some similarity between the class, there will also be some differences. A good exercise once they have finished the initial task would be to highlight the difference and ask why different students may think some things are more important than others. This will help to develop Meta-Cognition and evaluating skills in students as well.

We have resources, specifically on this activity but on many others as well, in our Reading strategies resource pack.

Graphic Organizers

We have mentioned graphic organizers many times in the past. They are excellent tools for reading comprehension. They can help readers to organize their thoughts, information, and even cause and effect. By using graphic organizers, students can analyze the information and determine whether it will change the course of the story. Wearing a green shirt instead of a blue one is not likely going to impact the story, but wearing an invisibility cap might.

Story sequence, characteristics, and causal relationships can all be tracked on graphic organizers. Many aspects of a story can be visualized through this process. These are great for fiction or nonfiction, especially when talking about biographical information. While it may be interesting that Spartacus was taught by Aristotle, if your point is his final battle, it has no bearing on the story. On the other hand, if Aristotle taught him something that helped in battle, this might be an important point. Understanding what people are reading to learn or determine will help students discriminate between important and unimportant. We have examples and templates for graphic organizers on the site as well.

Sorting Details

One simple way to help students learn what is important is to have them sort the details. Write the details on an index card or sticky note. Ask your child to think about the main idea or point of a chapter/ concept. Then have them sort those details into things that affected those chapters or concepts and what did not. Sometimes the details are interesting, but they do not support the claims or ideas. Have them place those into interesting details. The other things would go into a stack or list of important information.

Students can also think about why they make these choices. Some of the choices might be inferences. The story or passage is not likely going to say, “these  are the things that you need to know.” Students will have to use their inferencing skills to determine what information they need to make other choices or inferences. These two are tightly interconnected. In addition, your child can also use questioning strategies to learn what is important.

Key Features

One strategy for determining importance in nonfiction texts is to look at the text features. Is the word in bold or italics type? Is it part of a heading, figure, or picture? Understanding the key features of the text can help your child become better at inferences, questioning, and activating prior knowledge as well. Examining headings can tell students which concepts are the most important. In addition, subheadings, figures, charts, graphs, and photos are all clues into what students need to know about the text. Some of the non-text items can help your child visualize what is going on in the text or how the concept looks.


Journals help students jot down things that stand out and make their own notes. They can use their journals to draw pictures and make their notes personal. This does not need to be formal notes for learning. They can write about how the author’s words made them feel or what they noticed in the text. They can use it like they would scratch paper to brainstorm about the text.

Final Thoughts

You can do many things to help your child learn to become better at inferences or learn more about important details. One thing that students often find difficult is annotating text because they do not know which details are important. By starting when they are young, you can help them become better college or high school students one day.

There are no right or wrong ways to help children interact with text, but the more you allow them to practice and rearrange, the more their reading comprehension skills will improve. Reading comprehension is one of the most important skills our children will ever develop, but they will not develop without practice. Children will mimic what they see, so let them see you interacting with your personal reading. If they feel that these tasks are useful, they may be more likely to use them.

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 info@makingenglishfun.com, or jump on the Facebook group to ask questions. Happy learning, teaching or playing!