5 Quick Wins for Creative Phonics Teaching
We thought you might enjoy some Quick Wins for teaching phonics with hands-on manipulatives.
Today’s ideas will be simple Tips, Tricks, and Ideas to help motivate kids, and get them involved in learning about letters and sounds. Paper and pencil tasks have a place once learning is consolidated … but kindergarten and grade one students need movement and energy. Get them involved in their learning!
1. Phonics Phone
Have you ever had children who had a difficult time hearing the sounds of the language? Perhaps the sound needed to be amplified. This simple, easy to create Phonics Phone is amazing! The Phonics Phone is used as a telephone. You will be surprised to hear how clearly sounds and words are heard, once spoken, while using this simple device. Ask your children to “listen” to a phonics sound or word, as they speak into the phone. (Remember to use words and sounds that have been taught! Amazingly, they will hear each sentence, word, syllable, blend, or single sound clearly. Even young children (aged 2-3) will explore and learn as they hear their voice with a Phonics Phone.
Directions for Construction: Ask your local Hardware Store to please cut a section of central vacuum pipe into pieces that are about 4 inches (10 cm) long. You need 2 L-shaped couplers per phone. Add one elbow coupler to each 3/4 inch end of the 4-inch pipe length. Color or decorate your phone as desired. You have a Phonics Phone. Try it!
2. Magnetic Letters & Sounds Hack
Magnetic Letters are a very useful tool when working with letters and sounds. Often they are available in “Dollar Stores”. Initially, they can be sorted by color, shape, or size. Later the children will use the magnetic letters to create words. Avoid kids searching for two letters that create one sound. (e.g., Locating an <s> and an ><h> to create /sh/, or finding two <e>’s that represent the long vowel /ee/ sound.)
Quick Hack – When you use magnetic letters to create words or identify letter sounds, glue the digraphs together! We are trying to assist kids, not make life more challenging. All they have to do is look for a unit of sound that has been previously taught!
3. Swat it!
Purchase one or more inexpensive flyswatters.
- Option 1- Cut a hole the size of a single letter found on a classroom chart.
- Print random letter sounds on a chart. Ask, “Who can find the /a/… /t/, /j/?” “Swat it!” Challenge – Ask if a child can swat a single sound in a sentence.
- Option 2 – Cut a hole the size of a digraph.
- Print digraphs on a chart. Ask, “Who can find the /ai/… /oo/, /sh/, /ie/?” Challenge – Print mixed digraphs and single letter sounds on a chart. Ask the child to identify a unit of sound. Ask, “Who can find /a/… /ai/, /f/, /h/, /oa/?” Swat -t!
- Option 3- Cut a hole the size of a word.
- Print random words or a sentence on the chart. Ask the child to find a single word. “Who can find the word ‘cat’? Who can find the word ‘little’? Is this the correct answer? Why? Tell how you know that was the correct answer.
4. Magic Carpet
Purchase an inexpensive rug/mat or piece of carpet from a local department store/carpet store. Suggestion: Take a piece of Velcro with you to be sure it sticks to the carpet. The rug we used, fit the back of our magnetic board. it measures 2 feet x 3 feet. (60 cm x 90 cm)
Copy sound cards onto three colors of paper. The child will be able to quickly visualize vowels, consonants, and digraphs. Glue a piece of Velcro to the back of each sound card. Place the sound on the Magic Carpet.
Talk about how words need a vowel. Discuss the long and the short vowel sounds. Did the children know that most of the time, the long vowels need a friend to help them out? Talk about digraphs. identify sounds. Create words.
A little side note: Our kids enjoyed the sound of the Velcro attaching to the carpet and being removed… the most! The children really enjoy creating their own words and playing school with the Magic Carpet.
5. Be a Detective
Find inexpensive magnifying glasses at a local Dollar Store. (Suggestion: Create your own classroom set of paper magnifying glasses.)
The children enjoy “being a detective”! Prepare the room with letter sound cards and/or objects that use sounds that have been taught. Ask, “Who can find the letter /t/?” “What sound did you find?” “Find something that starts with /t/.” “What is it? Encourage the kids to come up with their own games and activities. Optional – Go outside. What can you find? Talk about discoveries outside or when you return to the classroom. What sounds do they use? Can you sound the word out?
Teach. Play. Learn.
These activities provide mystery, magic, and action. TEACH the children letters and sounds using a systematic phonics program. PLAY with letters and sounds to scaffold the learning. LEARN as you play and TEACH fellow students. Have fun!
You can create your own sound cards and printed words. Materials for these activities are available online or at local stores. Look for random objects/toys at garage sales … or in your child’s used toys. We understand that Teachers and Parents are busy. If you would like inexpensive prepared sound cards, words, or a word bank filled with words using the sounds that have been taught… CLICK the word to Learn More!
How are Phonics and Phonological Awareness different? Phonological Awareness is about the sounds we hear… not the printed letters. Phonemic Awareness is using your ears to connect the sounds to words. Phonics uses the Alphabetic Principle to connect letters or letter combinations to sounds.