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A bonus post for a Sunday evening. A phonics version of the classic game. Draw out a grid of dots. Inside each square write a word. Take it in turns to draw a line to connect two dots. When you complete a square you segment and blend the word in the middle and win that square. Winner is the person who has taken the most squares. This game can be adapted by just having digraphs/trigraphs (combination of two/three letters) or initial sound graphemes. A great game for tricky word recognition too 👍🏻
I’ve been eyeing up my son’s book box for a while now thinking how to incorporate it into an activity. Well here it is…
This activity is perfect for children working in Phase 5 and learning the alternate graphemes for the same phoneme. In this game I focused on the alternate ways to write the ‘ee’ phoneme (sound).
ee like in see
ea like in tea
Split digraph e_e
ey like in key
y like in happy
ie like in field
All the banana word cards start upside down. Pick up a banana and read the word. The monkey only eats the words that end in a ‘y’ because he’s a ‘cheeky monkey’. If playing with a partner the winner is the one that finds the most bananas to feed the monkey. Older children could write a sentence for all the words the monkey has eaten.
For younger children working at the beginning of Phase 5 you could concentrate on just three graphemes (ee, ea, e_e) and the monkey only eats words that are split digraph. Phase 3 children could have words that contain Phase 3 graphemes and the monkey only eats ‘ee’ words.
As an alternate to the box you could use a soft toy monkey, a monkey hat or your child could draw or make a monkey for the game.
Musical Statues Phonics
Play your favourite music. When the music stops say a sound or word and your child needs to stand on the corresponding grapheme card. My son is not a particularly natural dancer and is just learning to stand statue still 😂 but you get the idea.
A phonics variation on the classic post it note game. We used a paper plate hat to attach the post it note just for an added bit of fun. I’ve attached the picture that gave us the inspiration for the hat. You can have a word, grapheme or just initial sound on the post it note depending on age and phase. You give your child clues and then they guess what is on the post it. Older children spell out the word or grapheme using letter names.
As an example the clues could be:
park on post it – “It has swings and a slide there. You can go on a roundabout”. Your child then spells out the word park.
air on post it – “it’s in the word chair and fair” Your child then tells you that it is air and tells you the letters you need to write it.
s on post it – “it’s at the start of snake, sock, sausage”. This version is ideal for nursery and pre school children who are beginning to listen to sounds in words and recognise letters.
I’ve kept these pizza boxes for a while thinking that they would come in useful and then today I thought they would make the perfect phonics battleships board! So I taped them together and drew a 6×6 grid into the base of both of them. You don’t need the boxes for this game. You could just as easily use paper and stand a book up in the middle.
A great game for your child to practise recognising the graphemes that they have been taught. Each player needs some boats to put onto their grid. I used Duplo and each player gets a 4, 3 and 2×2 ship (I used different colours to make it clearer too). I then made a mark sheet for each player to record if they have hit their opponents ship. It’s better to have a separate sheet for this as you can just make a new one and be able to play the game again. Take it in turns to say the phoneme (sound) for a grapheme and the partner says whether their ship is on that grapheme or not. Mark on the mark sheet. Winner is the one that has found all their opponents ships.
I made a plank using some cardboard and put it on top of a Duplo bridge so that it could overhang a tub of water. On the cardboard plank I drew some lines to create 10 spaces to move along. Each player will need a small toy character to move along the plank.
I wrote some real and non words on some small cards. I took these from a past Year 1 screening check paper so are appropriate for children working in Phase 5 but you can adapt the words to suit your child.
Shuffle up the word cards and each player picks a card from the top. They segment and blend the word. If it is a real word they move back one space (or stay at the start if they are there) and if it is a non-word they move forward towards the end of the plank. Which player will fall off the plank first? Your child can play the game by themselves by just choosing a card each time and seeing if they can get through the pile of cards without falling off.
I had a bit of brain wave this morning and thought why not write graphemes on the back of playing cards. I’m not sure why I hadn’t thought of this before! They are the perfect size, come in a handy pack and there are 52 of them so you can fit all the graphemes from Phase 2 and 3 if you want.
If you have a spare set of cards, that you don’t mind writing on, then this is a simple game to set up. I made a card holder by folding a piece of card into a triangle and taping the ends. I also weighed it down with a couple of stones at either end; this is so it doesn’t topple over when you slot the cards in. I then adapted a dice so that it only had the numbers 2, 3 and 4 to roll. Adapt the graphemes on the cards according to the phase your child is working in.
Your child rolls the dice to find a number. They then have to build a word with that many phonemes. Pick the corresponding grapheme cards and place them into the holder. Roll the dice again and repeat. They could record all the words they make on a separate sheet.
Alternatively, if they are struggling to build the words independently you could provide them with a sheet with two, three and four phoneme words. They roll the dice, make a word from the list with that number of phonemes and then cross it off. This can also be played as a team game too. Who will be the first to cross off all their words?
You can then turn the cards over and play it to support mathematical development. Roll the dice, pick that number of cards and your child adds the numbers on the card together.
We were out for a walk yesterday and my son was collecting a bunch of sticks (as usual) when he dropped a pile of them. It got me reminiscing about the game ‘pick up sticks’ that I used to play when I was younger and I thought we could replicate the game using actual sticks and also give it a phonics twist too, obviously! 😊
You’ll need a fairly big pile of sticks. Some of them I stripped the bark back a little so that it was easier to see the word. Using permanent marker pen I wrote a word on each stick. I wrote the Phase 4 tricky words on these sticks but you could play with initial sounds or graphemes from the phase your child is working in.
This is a partner game. Drop the pile of sticks randomly onto the floor. Each player takes it in turns to pick up a stick without disturbing the rest. If they disturb any sticks their turn is over. A player keeps picking up sticks until they disturb the pile. They read the word or say the phoneme each time they pick one up. The winner is the one that ends up with the most sticks. They could also read through their sticks at the end of the game.
Afterwards, like my son did, you could use the sticks as part of a campfire role play and therefore your child is getting further exposure to the words too.
I wanted to make a simple board game that would not only support my son’s mathematical skills but also a chance for him to identify initial sounds. Playing board games are a fantastic way to develop turn taking and the skill of counting along spaces too.
I made this using a piece of cardboard and drew on the board and pictures with marker pen. For the pictures I focused on simple CVC words so that my son could identify the initial sounds but we can return to the game when he is building words in Phase 2. Adapt the pictures on the board depending on the phase your child is working at.
I also sellotaped completely over two pieces of card in the middle of the board. One is a space to find the letter or build the word and the other acts as a mini whiteboard to write the letter or word. You will also need a couple of counters (I used some pebbles), a dice and something to act as a coin (I used a milk bottle top). On the coin you will need a picture on one side that represents ‘make it’ and on the other needs to be something that represents ‘write it’ (I had some building blocks and a pen).
How to play:Take it in turns to role the dice and move that number of spaces. Your child identifies the picture and then flips the coin to decide whether they have to build the word or write it. For my son he had to identify the initial sound and then either find the letter or write it on the mini whiteboard. The winner is the one that gets to the finish line first.
Tip – put the dice into a small Tupperware box so that it doesn’t keep rolling off the table and getting lost.
A really quick game to set up and uses some empty food packaging before you put it out into the recycling.
You’ll need a tray with separate compartments, a couple of counters, a piece of paper or cardboard to keep score and some stickers or masking tape. Write graphemes or words onto a sticker or bit of masking tape and put them into each of the compartments in the tray. You could focus on letters of the alphabet, graphemes from Phase 3 or 5, high frequency or tricky words. Each player has a counter.
Place the tray on the floor and decide between you where you are going to throw the counter from. To add some extra challenge stand further away. Take it in turns to throw your counter into the tray. If it lands in the tray and you can say the phoneme or read the word you get a point. If it lands and you are unable to recognise the phoneme or word the other player gets a chance to steal the point (adults could pretend not to recognise to add some more excitement). A really fun and effective way to support and develop phonic knowledge with very limited resources.
Just sharing a simple memory game. Nothing original but wanted to say that it works really well as part of the practise section of a phonics lesson either within a pre-recorded video or live teaching. A game that parents can easily play at home too!
I called this game ‘Thief!’ as I was teaching the alternative phoneme for the grapheme ‘ie’ in Phase 5b. I wrote six words that contained this grapheme/phoneme and then displayed them all on a board. Give the children a chance to revise the board and try to remember all the words. Now cover the camera (or get your child to close their eyes if playing at home) and take a card away. Children then write the word that they think has been stolen. Repeat with the other words. A really simple quick game that you can adapt to whatever words you want.
A great game to practise segmenting words. Each player has a button board. You say a CVC word (with three phonemes) and players attempt to press the corresponding sound buttons to make that word. The winner of that round is the one to press it the fastest. You could play this individually and set it to a timer. Pressing all the buttons to make words. Time how long it takes and then try and beat your time.
Each board needs to have enough graphemes to make a selection of words. At least ten makes for a good game. Adapt the boards for whichever phase your child is working in and what graphemes they are focusing on. Looking at the board that starts with a ‘sh’ in the picture you can make the words:
Set up two grids. One for you and one for your child. Create a list of instructions that your child will need to read and follow in order to draw the picture. Once all their boxes in the grid are full reveal your picture and see if it matches. For younger children or children working within Phase 3 you could number the boxes and just put a simple statement for them to read and draw the picture in the corresponding numbered box. Once again reveal your picture to check it matches.
A great afternoon quiet time game. Each choose a different colour pencil. Take it in turns to read the words or say the sounds and colour in the circle. First one to connect 4 wins! I drew the boards by drawing around a bottle top. You can adapt the boards for age and phase. The word board is phase 4 because it contains words that have adjacent consonants i.e the ‘sl’ in sleep or the ‘st’ in stair.
A phonics spin on the game. Segment and blend the words before marking it with a cross or circle. Adapt for age and phase depending on what words or graphemes you write. Younger children you could just have initial letter sounds or simple CVC words. One of the sheets I’ve posted is made up of words that have a combination of Phase 3 graphemes and the other one I used some Phase 5 Easter topic words
This one is a bit of a mash up between bowls and boggle! Have a selection of graphemes on cards (I put ours on egg shaped card). Each player needs a piece of paper, a pencil/pen and three things to toss or roll (we used the stones that I decorated for the Easter Bunny hunt I posted further down the page 👇🏻). Players take it in turns to toss their three stones trying to get it to land on or very near a grapheme card. If by tossing the stones they make a real word they write that word on their paper. The winner is the one that collects 10 words. Have fun!
Simple idea for younger children who are working at the lower phonics levels.(Phase 1/2/3 in Letters and Sounds). We built the puzzle together this morning and then put out labels for it. My son is three so I just ‘sounded out’ the word for him and then he put the label on the picture but those working in Reception/Year 1 can read the labels independently and you can make the labels harder for those working at a higher level.
Wrap up a box with a small gift inside and pass it around to music. Within each layer is a clue to what will be inside the box. When the music stops unwrap a layer of the parcel and your child needs to read the clue. If they can guess what’s inside the box before the parcel is totally unwrapped then they can get the gift. Now that’s motivation! Obviously give them a helping hand if they are struggling. The game is not designed to torment them 😂
I would recommend writing the clues either in the centre of the paper to avoid the writing being ripped or have a separate strip of paper with the clue inside every layer.
Younger children will love to join in with the game too and you could ‘sound out’ some of the words for them to orally blend together.
Adapt the clues depending on the phase your child is working in. The clues for the chocolate coins would be appropriate for children in Phase 4 and Phase 5 clues for the toy car.
I set this up whilst my youngest was having a nap so that he couldn’t come and Godzilla all over it! A really quick game to prepare. I’ve posted the pairs game before using post it notes (see the ‘Post It Note Phonics’ activity) but it’s really nice to do it on a larger scale.
You could play the game with initial sounds, matching the same digraphs and trigraphs from Phase 3 and 5 or with tricky words. A great way to support learning the alternatives in Phase 5 too. Your child turns a plate, says the phoneme and has to find the alternative grapheme that makes the same sound.
For some reason my son started to pile his toys up on me so I thought why not make it into a phonics game! We played it again this morning but this time I ‘sounded out’ the objects for him to place. My son found it absolutely hysterical! Hopefully this is a fun game that your child will really enjoy too and engage them in their reading.
Collect a few objects and toys from around the house and write some corresponding word cards. Your child picks a card, reads it and then tries to balance that object on you! This can be played between siblings too. Can they get through the pile of cards without any of the objects falling off?
For Pre-school children and children working within Phase 1 you can ‘sound out’ the name of the object and they blend the sounds together in order to select the correct thing to place on you. This is what I did with my son.
Adapt the word cards for the phase your child is working in. You could extend this by having a two or three word captions instead, for example ‘pink coat’ or ‘brown and black dog’. For older children you could also have the instruction for where to place the object ‘place the plate in the right hand’.
The word cards in the photo would suit these phases:
Phase 2: hat, cat, dog, cup, pen, bucket, rucksack
Phase 3: book, coat
Phase 4: blanket, scarf
Phase 5: rope, plate, snake, tape, bird, lantern
This activity needs a cardboard box, scissors, masking tape and something to post. I used envelopes but it could be anything. My son wanted to use small dinosaurs in the end.
Cut off one side of the box so that it can remain upright and creates a barrier between the two players. Cut out some letter boxes around the box. My son made me put some flaps on some of them too! Put a bit of masking tape above each letterbox and write a grapheme or word on to it (I used masking tape so you can easily change what you are focusing on). You’ll need to have the same thing written above the letterbox on each side of the box so each player can see. Adapt what you write depending on the phase your child is working at. It could be initial sounds (like in the photo for my son), digraphs, trigraphs, decodable words or tricky words.
Your child sits on one side of the box and you sit on the other (or an older sibling) so that there is now a barrier between you both. You say, for example, “can you post your envelope through the ‘r’ letterbox?” and they post the letter through the corresponding letterbox. Your child then gives you instructions to put your envelope through a letterbox and they check whether you are correct. Keep repeating and change the letters/words above the letterboxes once your child can easily recognise it.
Great for hand eye coordination too 👍🏻
For an extra challenge older children could write the word on the envelope/paper before posting it through the corresponding letterbox.
‘Snap!’ but not as you know it! A fun and practical way to develop phonic knowledge and once you’ve created the crocodile board then you can reuse this to support your child right across the phases.I drew a crocodile outline (without teeth) onto an old piece of cardboard and coloured it in. I then cut some teeth out of card and on the back of each one I wrote a word. I chose to focus on words with adjacent consonants learnt in Phase 4 (CCVC or CVCC words) like the word ‘snap’. Adapt what you write depending on the phase your child is working. I made some more teeth and cards with initial sounds so I could play with my son. You could have decodable or tricky words too. On one of the teeth write the word ‘Snap!’. You will also need the same set of letters or words on a separate deck of cards.How to play:Place out all the teeth onto the crocodile so that the letter or word cannot be seen. Each player chooses a card from the deck of cards. This will be their winning word. Take it in turns to turn over a tooth. The aim is to try and find your winning word. Turn it back over if it is not a match. This will act like a memory game too. The winner is the one that finds their winning word. If any player reveals the ‘Snap!’ card then the other player instantly wins.
Just wanted to share with you a really easy and quick game to set up, literally a minute or two, that might fill a little time over the weekend if you are struggling for ideas to keep your little one entertained.I demonstrated here with split digraph ‘e-e’ due to the title of the activity but this can be played with any grapheme. Write two lists of the same words with the same grapheme missing in all of them. So for mine all the ‘e-e’ graphemes were missing in all of the words. You then compete to complete the words by filling in the grapheme and reading the word. Who will be the first person to complete the challenge?Play by adding single letters to simple CVC words or digraphs and trigraphs from Phase 3 and 5. Obviously you might want to be really bad at this game if you are competing with your child so they complete and read all the words
A fantastic game to help develop the recognition and spelling of high frequency words. These are words that children need to develop a fluency in both reading and eventually spelling. The words consist of a mixture of decodable words (you can sound them out) and tricky words (just need to be learnt by sight). You could play with any words though. It could be topic or key words that you want to focus on.
I made the owls and gave each owl a couple of high frequency words that they are trying to collect. I wrote these on a piece of cardboard. I made sure that all players (owls) needed to collect the same amount of leaves so they all had two four letter words to find. You could have any number of words that players are trying to collect just make sure that everyone has an equal number of letters. I then wrote the letters to spell the words onto the back of some paper leaves and then placed them over a trunk that I cut from a brown envelope. Each player (owl) takes it in turns to roll the dice. This indicates how many leaves they can collect from the tree and turn over. If they need the letters to spell the words on their sheet they keep them. If they don’t need them they put them back. You could also place out leaves with decoy letters in which no player needs. Continue to roll the dice and collect leaves. The winner is the player that spells all their high frequency words first.
This game could be played individually too just by rolling the dice until you’ve picked up the letters you need or your child could play for each owl and see which one wins.
Images © Phonics Family 2020