Most students need lots of phonics practice. That’s why I bring a mix of activities from worksheets and fluency boards to writing prompts … and games. I love using phonics games because students often don’t even realize they are getting the extra practice they need. Games can be adapted for whole class, small group, or partners.
Using phonics games for extra classroom practice
I set up games in my phonics or literacy station. Sometimes I’ll work with a group on a game or I’ll send a group to play phonics games on their own once I’ve introduced it.
Whole class games—Bingo works well as a phonics game for the class. You’ll need bingo boards with your phonics words and individual word pieces for the caller. The teacher can act as the caller or students can get practice reading and saying words by taking turns as the caller. The caller picks a word and says it. Students mark their cards if they have the word. Once somebody gets a complete line in any direction, they say BINGO.
Small group phonics games—Try Phonics Go Fish with a small group. Create a deck of cards with your phonics words on them (4 sets of each word). Play is like the traditional game. Students start with 5 cards each and the rest of the cards are placed in the middle. The first person asks another player, “Do you have ___ [and fills in with one of the phonics words in their hand]?” If the player has the word, they hand it over. If not, the player who asked picks from the middle, and the next person asks for a word. When a player gets 4 of one word, they set it aside as a “book.” Once all the books are complete the game ends.
Partner phonics games—Snap is another card game you can easily adapt as a phonics game. You simply need a deck of cards with your phonics words (two of each) on them. Have students deal out all the cards without looking at them. Each person should have a stack of cards, face down in front of them. At the same time, the students flip the top card in their pile face up in the middle. Students have to quickly read each word to see if they match. If they do, students say SNAP! and then read the word. If the words do match, the student who said SNAP first gets both piles.
Using phonics games for extra practice at home
Phonics games also make great practice at home. The simpler you can keep the materials and directions the better. Here are two phonics games I’ve had students try with their families.
Concentration—Students will need two sets of cards with your phonics words. Send these home in a zip bag or envelope. The directions are simple: shuffle the cards and lay them out face down. Take turns flipping over two cards. Read the words aloud. If they match, the person who flipped them takes them. The goal is to get as many word pairs as you can. For additional writing practice, you can have students record the words they collected.
4-in-a-Row—This phonics game requires a simple game board that you can copy to send home. It also requires a spinner that can be made with a paperclip and two different colored pens or pencils. The spinner includes a set of phonics words. Students take turns with a friend or family member spinning the spinner. They then read the word and write it in any box on the game board. The goal is to get four words in a row in your color.
There are so many ways to use phonics games for extra practice, whether in the classroom or at home. What are your favorite phonics games to play?
If you’d like more phonics games, cootie catchers, worksheets, and other activities—more than 1100 pages of them—you want the The Complete Phonics Kit. It covers CVC words, consonant blends, digraphs, and alternate spellings. All the activities are ready to print and go. Get your Complete Phonics Kit here.