Combining fun and games with practice and learning is a win-win situation. That’s why I love to use cootie catchers, sometimes called chatterboxes or fortune tellers, in my classroom. They combine a popular children’s game that your students may already be familiar with, with practice in reading and spelling words that have a particular phonics focus.
Whether it’s digraphs or CVC words or multiple spellings of particular sounds, cootie catchers are a great way to practice and keep kids excited. One teacher wrote, “LOVE LOVE LOVE these! What kids don’t love a cootie! My kids are wanting to play with their words all the time!”
Play with the ee sound
Here’s a quick activity to do with your students to recognize different spellings for one sound. Let’s work with /ee/.
- Write these headings on the board:
e ea y ee ey ie
- Under each heading, write a word that includes the spelling for that /ee/ sound. Say each sound as you write it.
- Underline the part of the word that represents the /ee/ sound.
- Ask students to name other words with the same /ee/ spelling.
- Write those words on the board, saying each sound and underlining the /ee/ part of the word.
Phonics fun with cootie catchers
After introducing different ways of spelling the /ee/ sound, give students a chance to practice with cootie catchers.
Pair up students. Each pair should have a:
- Cootie catcher
- Whiteboard or paper with the spellings of the practice sound listed across the top
- Whiteboard marker or pencil
Work with one student to review how to use the cootie catchers.
- Have the student choose a picture. (Example: bunny)
- Segment the word, opening the cootie catcher for each sound. (Open once for each sound: B-U-NN-Y)
- Have the student choose a word from the inner part of the cootie catcher. (Example: eat)
- Again segment the sounds and open the cootie catcher once for each sound (Open once for each sound: EA-T)
- Have the student choose another word (Example: key)
- Open the flap for this word. Instruct the student to think of a word with the spelling of the /ee/ sound shown. The cootie catcher gives examples if students are stuck.
- Have the student write the word under the correct spelling of the /ee/ sound. Remind them to segment the sounds as they write it down.
- Have the student underline the spelling of the /ee/ sound.
Of course, you can use cootie catchers for any sound you need to work on. You can even have students create their own cootie catchers with words they come up with for different sounds.
I’ve created a Cootie Catcher pack that highlights these sounds:
Set 1: Sound /ae/, Spellings: ay, ea, a-e, ai, a, eigh, ei
Set 2: Sound /ee/, Spellings: e, ea, y, ee, ey, ie
Set 3: Sound /oe/, Spellings: o, oa, ow, o-e, oe
Set 4: Sound /er/, Spellings: er, ir, or, ur, ear
Set 5: Sound /e/, Spellings: e, ea
Set 6: Sound /ow/, Spellings: ou, ow
Set 7: Sound /oo/, Spellings: oo, ew, ue, u-e, ui
Set 8: Sound /ie/, Spellings: i, ie, y, i-e, igh
You get black and white and color cootie catcher forms for each sound, plus a word overview sheet that provides all of the words used in each cootie catcher. To make sure it’s easy to use the cootie catchers in class, I include instructions for assembling the cootie catchers and tips for how to use them.
This 66-page item is suitable for Grades 1– 4.
Take a sneak peek.
Click here to download a preview of the cootie catchers.
If you haven’t used cootie catchers in class, you’ll find kids love them. Here’s what teachers have to say:
“My students love these and they don’t even know they are practicing spelling.”
“This is an awesome product! The directions are very clear and I think my students will love being able to “play” during phonics. ? Thank you!”
“Children don’t realise they are working, thank you.”
Get your phonics cootie catchers now!
Pick this pack up today for an investment of only $8.00USD.
Click the button below to add this item to your cart.
Once you have completed your purchase you will receive an email with your receipt and a link to download the cootie catchers.
Click on the link in the email to open the resource as a PDF. You are then able to save the resource to your computer.