Phonics instruction can be a crucial component to teaching literacy, especially in the early years. Some educators integrate phonics instruction with reading comprehension, some educators make the connection between phonics instruction and spelling, and others teach it as its own entity within literacy. Whichever strategy is chosen to help the students in your classroom understand the sounds that can be made by letter(s) should be reflective of the needs of the individual learners in the classrooms. Some of our students may benefit from those focused phonics lessons, others will be prepared to connect their knowledge of sounds to reading comprehension right away. It is up to us as educators to know our learners and apply strategies and lessons that will benefit them so that they are able to enjoy reading and be successful in comprehending the text.
Recently, I was meeting with a group of Instructional Aids (IAs) and working with them to develop more engaging phonics lessons instead of simply running the sound spelling cards. As I was looking for resources, my first step was to google #phonics and I was amazed at some of the ideas and resources I found! (Check it out by clicking the light blue text from the previous sentence – this is a link that will bring you to the website).
In the primary grades, especially, it can be beneficial for students to practice making the sounds with their mouths. Having them understand where their tongue goes in their mouth, getting them to feel how their lips move when they make certain blends or digraphs can be the foundational skill to reading words. A partner activity could be for them to look at each other and make exaggerated facial expressions without actually saying the sounds. Their partner would then tell them which blend/digraph/dipthong they are mouthing. Think of this activity like a phonics lip reading challenge.
Flipbooks are an effective way to create an ongoing document that keeps track of the phonics lessons you have taught. Students can chart words to use specific blends/digraphs/dipthongs, they can create a flipbook that allows them to change parts of the word, they can add to their flipbooks as they continue learning, and they can reflect on the phonics lessons they have learned.
- Create a flipbook foldable where each tab is labeled with a sound that you are focusing on
- Read the text
- Have students list the words they found using that sound
- Keep this as an ongoing record of the sounds they have learned, allow them to reflect on their learning and add to their list as you read
These foldables can be an effective continuous learning tool for any grade level you are working with!
Guess My Category
Students are given cards with words on them and they have to explain what sounds or patterns they recognize within the words. Students should look at all of the words and recognize what is similar about the words they are categorizing. The word cards can be created from their foldable books or they can be sight words that the class is working on.
A more advanced alternative would be to have students categorize the cards themselves based on what sound patterns they notice. You could even have students create their own cards and then work with partners to place them in certain categories and justify why they named that group with the decided category name.
As you are focusing on certain sounds, you can give the students in your small group a challenge by having them write words that use the blend/digraph/dipthong you are focusing on. They can do this collaboratively by passing around a iPad or a whiteboard and each student has to write a different word. You could even incorporate a time challenge if you feel your students are ready for that.
Rhymes and Chants
I am horrible at making these up (anyone who has ever tried to create or sing a GLAD chant with me knows this). Luckily, Pinterest has a TON! They even have YouTube videos with phonics chants: Phonics Chants on Pinterest.
The Reading Rockets website has a ton of great reading resources! It includes strategies categorized by before, during, and after reading. You can choose from many different categories like:
Each category will include activities that can be done to support literacy, all of the resources you will need, and some include a video as well.
With your ILE login, you can access many different teacher resources that are meant to support your learners. These activities are resources that can be used to reteach areas that your students are struggling in – this may be found through informal observations or by looking at your ILE reports.
To access the resources:
- Login to ILE: https://www.imaginelearning.com/
- Click “Resources”
- Click “Teacher Resources”
- Choose by standard or scroll down to where you see “Teacher Resources”
The first section that you find will have video lessons for the students to do independently. As you scroll down, you will see the “Teacher Resources” section. This area will have strategies and lessons that you can use to support your students based on their needs.
By opening a web browser and googling #phonics, you will find the latest posts from Twitter that are related to phonics; you do not even need a Twitter login to access this! You can scroll through pictures, read articles, and watch videos of phonics lessons being shared by teachers across the world.
There are so many strategies and ways to teach phonics! I encourage you to explore some of the resources and even share what you are doing on Twitter using #FeasterLearns!