Phonics word sorts are a great practice activity to use in the classroom or for students to use at home. Word sorts can give students practice spelling, noting spelling patterns, writing, reading, and more. There are different kinds of phonics word sorts—and multiple ways to use each!
Keep reading for ideas for using phonics word sorts (and how to get some for free).
Sounds and syllables phonics word sorts
This kind of phonics word search gives students practice identifying different sounds. Students write each sound and identify the number of syllables. They can then sort words in different ways. For example, they could sort words by the number of syllables, the number of sounds (which may not be the same as the number of letters), or by common starting, ending, or other patterns.
Try this kind of phonics word sort to help students focus on all the sounds in words or if you are working on understanding syllables better in addition to working with specific words.
You can use sounds and syllables phonics word sorts as a quick mini assessment, as an option in a phonics/literacy station, or as homework.
Sort by correct spelling phonics word sorts
This type of phonics word sort focuses on sounds with multiple spellings. For example, /er/ can be spelled several ways including er, ir, or, ur, and ear. You can introduce multiple spellings with this kind of word search. Ask students to think of words that include the sound. As they call out words, sort them by the way the sound is spelled without giving it a heading. Ask if they can notice spelling patterns for the sound, and add the spelling of the sound as a heading above each set of words.
Alternately, students sort the words on a worksheet into sections for each spelling. Initially, students can sort words from a word bank on the page. This makes great independent work or homework. As they get more familiar with the words, try reading the words to them or having them work in pairs with one person reading and the other spelling the word and sorting it into the correct section. Have students identify other words with the same pattern and see if they can add them to the correct section.
Cut and sort phonics word sorts
Cut and sort phonics word sorts work much like sort by correct spelling word sorts. Instead of writing the words from a word list into sections, students cut out the headings and the words themselves and glue each heading and any words that go within it together on a paper. Students don’t get practice writing the words, but physically sorting them will help some learners.
As a worksheet, this works well as independent work or homework. You can also make a game out of it. Print words large and give each student a word. Then you have two choices:
- Same-Same—Have students find other students who have words with the same spelling pattern. That is, all the students with /er/ words spelled er should gather in a group. Students with ir spelling should gather in a different group.
- To Your Station—Create a station for each spelling. Have students bring their word card to the correct station. Variation, instead of having a word on a card, give the student the word verbally. Have them go to the station and write their word spelled correctly.
Phonics word sorts are very adaptable for different uses and for various spelling patterns or word sets.
You can get a free sample of /er/ phonics word sorts by filling in the form below.
How do you use word sorts in the classroom?