Classroom ideas & games for teaching phonics

Updated April 17, 2017

To teach children phonics is to teach them the relationship between the sound and the spelling of a word, and how this relationship can be used to help reading. Good phonics knowledge leads to better word recognition, which in turn increases reading fluency. Teaching phonics should be fun and engaging, helping children to build a lifelong good relationship with words.

Interactive Games

There are online games that are suitable for interactive whiteboards as well as for the computer. For children just starting to learn phonics, try "Sound Starter" where you click on a bubble to hear a sound. Some are funny, some are real, some start quietly, others loudly. This game invites fun discussion about sounds. "Guess the Animal" is where the children choose which animal makes which sounds, and it makes funny sounds for the children when they get it right or wrong.

Which Letter?

Ask your children to listen for initial consonants as you say a certain line to them, starting with "this letter of the alphabet...". For example, you could say "this letter of the alphabet is in some awesome words you know, like alligator, ant, afraid, or this letter of the alphabet is in some beautiful words you know, like bubble, bunny, butterfly." Have the children identify the letter, and ask them to give you other examples. Write them all down on the board.

Hickory Dickory Dock

Write the poem out on the board, leaving a lot of space between lines for other words to be written in. Underline the "d" in dock and the "cl" in clock in one colour, using a different colour to underline the "ock." Read it aloud and encourage the children to join in with hand movements. Ask them to identify the words that rhyme (dock and clock) and what makes them similar and what makes them different (same endings but different beginnings.) Pronounce the d, being careful not to say "duh", and have the children repeat you. Do the same with the "ock" and then put the two sounds together, telling the children to listen to hear how each sound in the consonant blend is heard. Do the same with "cl." Ask the children to name words that rhyme with "ock" (lock, stock, rock, flock etc.) and replace the dock and clock in the poem. Finally, ask the children to act out the new poem.

The Alphabet Tree

Draw a tree on the board, big enough to accommodate 26 small boxes. Ask the children to name the first letter of the alphabet and write it in the first box. Do the same with the next three letters, then go back over the four written. Ask for the next cluster of letters, write them in and revise. Do this until the entire alphabet is up on the board. Then point to a letter arbitrarily and ask the children to name it. To further the exercise, ask them to make the sound it has, and a word that begins with the sound.

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About the Author

Karen Lovell started writing professionally in 2009. She specializes in diet, nutrition and exercise along with the information technology, hospitality and catering industries. Her work has appeared in various online publications. Lovell holds a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing and English from Greenwich University.