Cootie catchers are a great way to practice phonics skills, especially blending and segmenting sounds. I use cootie catchers with students for additional practice for CVC words, VCC words, CVCC and CCVC words, various 5–6 letter word patterns like CCVCC and CCVCCC words, digraphs, and sounds with multiple spellings.
Phonics practice with Cootie Catchers
Your students may know how to use cootie catchers, but it’s a good idea to demonstrate for anyone who doesn’t and to make sure students understand how to use them to practice phonics.
A demonstration will work best in a small group so that students can see the cootie catcher. If you have the technology to project the cootie catcher and what you are doing, you can demonstrate it for the whole class at once.
Choose a student to help you demonstrate. Simply guide them to make choices at the appropriate times. Go through these steps.
1. Ask the student to choose a picture from the cootie catcher. Let’s say they picked plump.
2. Demonstrate how to segment the word, opening the cootie catcher as you say each sound. (Open once for each sound: P – L – U – M – P.)
3. Point out that you are opening for each sound, not each letter.
4. Now, have the student choose a word from the inner part of the cootie catcher. Let’s say they picked slugs.
5. Again show how to segment the sounds and open the cootie catcher once for each sound. (Open once for each sound: S – L – U – G – S.)
6. Have the student choose another word. (Let’s say blank.)
7. This time, open the flap for this word.
8. Read the word under the flap to the student. The student needs to write the word (either in their book or on a mini whiteboard) and then check their spelling.
If you want students to record the word, show them how to do so. Have them segment the word again as they write it down. If you’re working with alternative spellings, you could also have them underline the target sound, such as the spelling of the /ow/ sound or a digraph or other sound.
Cootie catchers are very adaptable for a variety of phonics practice. I’ve created them for:
- CVC words
- VCC and CVCC words
- CCVCC, CVCCC, CCCVC, CCVCC, CCVCCC, and CCCVCC words
- Eight different digraphs
- 15 different sounds with alternate spellings, such as /ow/, /ae/, and /l/
I’ve bundled these together — over 100 cootie catchers in all! The Phonics Cootie Catcher Bundle saves you 30% off buying each of my cootie catcher packs separately.
You get 6 packs of cootie catchers (each with multiple sets) that are ready to print. See the whole list of sounds covered here. With each set, you also get a word overview sheet showing the words used in each cootie catcher.
The bundle also includes instructions for folding the cootie catchers and using them in class. In other words, once you download the bundle, you have everything you need to start using cootie catchers in class.
Cootie catchers are perfect for partner work, but can also be used independently or in small groups. Try:
- Having students work independently with a cootie catcher. Students use the cootie catchers as demonstrated, but they make their own choices, work the cootie catcher, and record their own results.
- Letting students make additional cootie catchers of their own with their choice of words from your word list.
- Using cootie catchers in small groups. One student works the cootie catcher. The others take turns making choices and recording words. After one round, students can pass the cootie catcher to give somebody else an opportunity to work it.
- Having cootie catchers available for a choice activity for students to do alone or in pairs.
- Sending students home with a cootie catcher and a worksheet to practice and consolidate skills at home.
Ready to introduce phonics cootie catchers in your classroom?
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