What is phonics instruction?
"The goals of phonics and word study instruction are to teach children that there are systematic relationships between letters and sounds, that written words are composed of letter patterns representing the sounds of spoken words, that recognizing words quickly and accurately is a way of obtaining meaning from them, and that they can blend sounds to read words and segment words into sounds to spell" (Vaughn & Linan-Thompson, 2004). More simply stated, phonics is the study of letter and sound relationships.

Large Popsicle Sticks
Write each letter of the alphabet on the end of a Popsicle stick to use in Word Building activities. Store in snack size plastic bags. The Popsicle sticks are easy for students to manipulate and, unlike the paper letter cards, they don't fly away when someone sneezes or sets a book down. You can put the lowercase letter on one side and the capital on the other as a scaffold and to separate b&d, p&q, and u&n.

Word Building Folders
Purchase baseball card sheet protectors and put them in a folder with with tabs to create individual word building folders. You can purchase word building mats, but they can be expensive. (This idea was passed from someone to Betsy Wismer, who shared it with Kay Wait, who shared it with me.)


Printable Word Building Cards
Print these cards on card stock, front and back.

Interactive Whiteboard Activities for Phonics

Beginning Sound Alphabet Soup
Students drag pictures to the letter that makes the corresponding beginning sound.

Cookie Monster's Letter Identification
The Cookie Monster tells students that he only eats cookies that begin with a certain letter, which appears in lowercase and capital form above the Cookie Monster. Students drag the cookies that begin with that sound/letter to the Cookie Monster's mouth. The cookies are labeled and the first letter is highlighted. The Cookie Monster gobbles the cookie up if it is correct.

Starfall's Letter Slide Shows
Each letter has it's own slideshow introducing the lowercase and capital letter, letter sound, and words/pictures that begin with the letter/sound.

Phoneme Pop: Letter/Sound Matching
You choose a group of 8 letters. One of those 8 letters is the target phoneme for 30 seconds. As various letter bubbles float by, students click on the matching letter's bubble to pop it.

Super Why: Letter/Sound Bingo
You can choose the difficulty by selecting capital, lowercase or combination. The bingo board has various letters on it. Students are asked to find the letter that make the sound (/z/) like (zebra). When students uncover all the tiles on the board a picture is revealed.

Read, Write, Think: Picture Match
Picture Match is designed to give new readers practice with identifying beginning-letter and short- and long-vowels sounds through a simple, fun game. Updated in 2008, the game features all letters of the alphabet. In the beginning-letter sounds section, a picture of an object (for example, a car) is displayed, and students are prompted to choose the letter that corresponds with the first letter of the word. In the short- and long-vowel sounds sections, students are prompted to choose the vowel that corresponds with the word. If students choose the correct match, they get words of encouragement and a new picture. If they do not choose the correct match, they receive an audible prompt and can then try again, choosing among the remaining letters. Once all of the pictures have been matched, students can print out a chart showing which pictures go with which letters. Pictures are sorted randomly with each game to provide a challenge if the game is played more than once. Picture Match is intended for beginning readers and can be used individually or in small groups.

Clifford: Make A CVC Word
Students change the middle vowel in CVC words to create new words. The words are recorded on a word list. Only real words can be made.

Word Families and Decodable Books
Levels 1-5 focus on word families and short vowels. Students can practice making and reading words with similar spelling patterns and then practice reading those in context.

Nursery Rhyme Fill in the missing letter
Nursery Rhymes are used in this activity. Words are highlighted as they are read. A letter "falls off" of a CVC word after the rhyme is read. Students then sound out the word and choose the letter that is needed to complete the word.

Special Letters/Situations Videos
This collection of videos explains special letters or characteristics. For example, adding s, /ch/, q & u, capital and lowercase letters, and lots more.