Phonics skills are the foundation of good reading, but there’s more to phonics than drills and memorization. Here are a few fun games to make phonics fun again (or the first time).

1. Hunt the Flashcard

Hide flashcards of letters/clusters around the room, then shout them out one at a time. Kids race to find the correct flashcard first.

2. Pogo Drill

Place five or six flashcards, or write letters/clusters, along the board. Have the students (or a team) line up in front of one of the flashcards. A teacher or student shouts out a sound, and the whole line jumps to that position.

3. Fruit Salad

Each student is given a phonics flashcard, make sure that there are 2 of each flashcard in use. One student stands in the middle and calls out a sound. The 2 students with the matching flashcard have to stand and swap seats as fast as they can. The student who called out the sound, needs to try and sit in one of the recently vacated seats before the other student gets to it.

phonics boxes

Phonics box

4. Phonics Boxes

Prepare a grid on the board or piece of paper. Make the grid of dots with a letter or blend written on each side of each square.

Students take turns to read one sound or blend, and then get to draw the line on the grid. When a student completes a box, they then get to draw one extra line. Whoever has the most complete boxes at the end is the winner.

5. Duck, Duck, Goose

Have the students sit in a circle facing outwards and give each student a flashcard with a phonic value on it. One student goes around the outside of the circle and as they come to each student they make a sound. If the sound the student makes and the sound on the student’s flashcard match, then the students have to race around the circle.

6. Exploding Flashcard Chain Drill

Students chain drill and the teacher turns away then shouts out a flashcard. Which ‘explodes’ on the student holding it.

7. Pelmanism

Put two sets of flashcards face down on the floor. This could be phonic sounds such as ‘ee’, ‘or’,’oa’, etc. It could also be a selection of words or blends featuring a specific sound (e.g. Sleep, feet, beep, zeeb, etc.). Students take turns to turn them over and try to find a matching pair. Whenever they turn a card over they have to say the phonic value / read the word or blend on the card.

Want some more activity ideas? Check out the posts here and here.

A version of this article originally appeared in Shane English Schools Taiwan’s Teaching English to Young Learners (TEYL) program, which is part of all new teachers’ orientation.

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