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Activities to Teach Phonics and Math

April 9, 2020 by Emily

Right now, our children are being asked to learn everything virtually.  Most of their current assignments involve academic websites and completing online assignments. What if you could include some hands-on activities to teach phonics and math to your children?  No printer required and they get away from being glued to a computer or tablet screen!

Photos of hands-on activities to teach phonics and math

Activities to Teach Phonics and Math

Here are some activity ideas to teach phonics and math.  Added bonus… you don’t have to purchase anything to do these activities.  All can be done with items you currently have in your home!

Phonics Activities

All of these activities to teach phonics will work on words containing certain single letter sounds (m, s, t, r, p, etc.) or multiple letter sounds (sh, pl, gr, ee, ay, etc.).

  • Phonics Scavenger Hunt – Have your child find objects in the house that contain the phonics sound.
  • Swat the Sound – Write words with the phonics sound on sticky notes and give your child a flyswatter.  Your child gets to “swat” a sticky note and then tell you that word.
  • Magazine Search – Have your child go through old magazine or newspaper ads and find words or pictures that contain the phonics sound.
  • Sidewalk Chalk Words – Take some chalk outside and see how many words your child can write that contain the phonics sound.
  • Pancake Flip Phonics Style – Have your child write words that contain the phonics sound on circles cut out from paper.  Lay them word side down on the table.  Give your child a spatula and have them flip the “pancakes” over, saying the words as they flip them.
  • Hide-and-Seek Phonics – You and your child write words that have the phonics sound in them on note cards or pieces of paper.  While your child closes their eyes, hide the note cards around the house.  Your child then has to “seek” the cards, reading the words as they find them.

Spatula flipping "paper pancakes" that contain the 'sh' sound

Phonics Games

Turn some popular games into activities to teach phonics.  They are a fun alternative to learning words with phonics patterns.

  • Life Size Phonics Game Board – Cut out circles and write words that have the phonics sound on them.  Place around the room and rolling a die, walk that number of steps on the circles.  Once they’ve landed on a circle, they need to say that word.
  • Phonics BINGO – Create a BINGO board (at least 3×3) and fill each square with a word that has the phonics sound.  Write those same words on small pieces of paper that you will draw out of a cup.  Your child will cover each word that is drawn, trying to get a BINGO or “black out”.
  • Phonics Pictionary – Think of as many words as you can that contain the phonics sound and write them down on small pieces of paper.  Using a pencil and paper, pick up a word and draw a picture of that word. Your child has to guess what word it is.  You can switch and take turns who is drawing and who is guessing.
  • Memory Match – Write at least 5 pairs of words containing the phonics sound.  Mix them up and flip them over.  The goal is for your child to read and make all of the matches.
  • TIC TAC TOE Phonics – Create a 3×3 grid and have your child fill each space with a word containing the phonics sound.  Then with a marker, play tic tac toe.  You have to say the word before you can cover the space with an “X” or an “O”.

Paper rectangles that have matching words containing the 'ay' sound



Word Family Activities

In addition to teaching phonics sounds, these are some activities that focus on word families.

  • Rhyming Twist – Using a straw and toilet paper tube, create a word family “spinner”.  Cut the tube into two parts (⅓ and ⅔). On the smaller part, write a variety of beginning sounds, and on the larger part, write the word families.  Place both tubes on the straw and allow your child to “spin” them, creating a variety of words.  
  • Sliders – Cut a slit and a rectangular opening in an envelope.  Write the word family to the right of the opening (example at).  Using a strip of colored paper, write beginning sounds down the strip.  Your child can slide the strip through the envelope to create a variety of words.
  • Sticky Notes – Write a variety of beginning sounds on a piece of paper, and the word families on sticky notes.  Have your child mix and match the word families with the beginning sounds to create words.
  • Eggs – Write a word family (ex. op) on the bottom part of the plastic Easter egg.  Write a variety of beginning sounds for that word family on the top part of the plastic Easter egg.  Your child then puts the egg together and spins the part with the beginning sounds to create words. Have them read each word as they spin it.
  • Magic Spoon – Write a word family on the back of a plastic spoon (ex. “an”).  On a piece of paper, write beginning sounds that create words in that word family (ex. m, p, c, r, t) Your child places the spoon after each beginning sound and reads the words.

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Paper with consonants written on it; spoon with 'it' written on the back. Place the spoon after each consonant to create a word.

Math Activities and Games

We don’t want you just focusing on phonics activities, so we wanted to include games you can use to teach math as well.

  • Board Games – Play board games that involve counting, such as Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, Trouble, Monopoly, etc.
  • Snack – When giving your child a snack, have them count out a certain number of pieces, making groups.  Can they identify which group has the most and which group has the least?
  • Shape Scavenger Hunt – Ask your child to find objects in your house that are a certain shape.  Need to extend it?  Ask them to find solid shape objects (cylinder, sphere, cube, and cone).
  • Cooking/Measuring – While you are baking, have your child help you measure out the ingredients.  As an extension… Can they double the recipe or cut it in half? 
  • Money Skip Count – Every child loves to play with money!  Why not use it to help them skip count?!  Give your child a variety of pennies, nickels, and dimes.  Your child will need to sort them first and then arrange in a line before practicing counting by 1s, 5s, and 10s.  Double up the pennies and they can skip count by 2s. 
  • Playing Cards Math – Use a deck of playing cards and remove the jacks, queens, and kings.  Shuffle and deal the whole deck between the two of you. Each of you flip a card over and add the two cards together.  Whoever says the sum first wins both cards. The game ends when one player has all of the cards.  You can also play greater than/less than this way.  

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Photo collage of activities that teach phonics and math

Share with Us

Let your children “unplug” and enjoy some fun hands-on activities and games that teach phonics and math.  We would love to see pictures of the games that you come up with.  Please take a picture and share them in the comments below.  Or if you have an amazing hands-on activity you are using at home, we would love to hear it.  Sharing our ideas right now is key to helping us all get through this together!

– Written By Janessa Fletcher

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