20 Phonics Activities That Aren’t Boring

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I’ve always loved teaching phonics, but there have been many times when I couldn’t come up with fun activities to pair with my otherwise engaging lessons. After years of trial and error, I’ve compiled a list of 20 phonics activities that have been deemed “not boring” by my own young learners. So, if you’ve ever found yourself in a similar position, you’ve come to the right place; just make sure to check out #15!

Hands-On Phonics Activities That Aren’t Boring

1 – Count the Sounds

Start by grabbing some clothespins or paper clips and Count the Sound cards. For this activity, students will identify the pictures and count how many sounds are in that word by marking the correct number with a clothespin or paper clip.

2 – Play Dough Mats

All your students will need is play dough, a whiteboard marker, and laminated Alphabet Play Dough Work Mats. First, the students should identify the name/sound of the letter and form it with play dough. Then, they’ll identify words that begin with the sound of the letter and practice writing it with a whiteboard marker.

3 – Alphabet Soup (aff)

This activity is perfect for small group centers and is easy to differentiate based on need. Start by setting out as many soup cans as you’d like and mixing up the picture cards. The students will take turns identifying one picture and its beginning sounds before dropping it in the can that displays the corresponding letter.

4 – Phonics Write & Wipe Puzzles

I like to use Phonics Write & Wipe Puzzles as fast finisher activities and my students love them! I recommend keeping 2-3 puzzles together and color-coding each bag based on difficulty level. For this activity, they will identify and trace the letter, digraph, or 3-letter blend found at the top of the puzzle and match the four picture cards that begin with the same sound.

5 – Dot Art

For this hands-on activity, you’ll need to grab some bingo daubers (aff) and Alphabet Dot Art worksheets. The students will use their daubers to form the uppercase and lowercase versions of each letter and decorate the big picture on their page. Finally, they’ll use crayons to trace the letter and color 5 mini-pictures that begin with the same sound.

Engaging Phonics Worksheets

6 – I Spy Phonics

My students love this no-prep activity so much that they even choose it as their class reward from time to time! Just print out I Spy Phonics worksheets that match your students’ reading levels and you’re all set. The students should be able to work independently or in groups to read the words on their list and check off items as they find the pictures that match each word.

7 – Sound Trail Printables

There are so many different ways you can incorporate Sound Trail Printables into your classroom routine. This no-prep activity increases student engagement while they master phonics skills independently! I recommend implementing this activity during morning work, small group time, mixed phonics review, or as a fast finisher activity.

8 – Phonics Poems

I always keep copies of Phonics Poems stashed away in my classroom for a rainy day. This is the perfect activity for literacy centers because you can differentiate based on the needs of each student and extend the activity by using comprehension pages.

9 – Interactive Phonics Booklets

My favorite thing about Interactive Phonics Booklets is that preparation is as simple as printing and folding! This is a great activity to introduce during independent work time because you can differentiate easily by giving students different booklets depending on their skill sets. These booklets include engaging activities like rainbow writing, phonics-based passages, and find, write, and color sections. 

10 – Phonics-Based Passages

If your students are working on long and short vowels, blends, digraphs, 3-letter blends, or r-controlled vowels, they’ll love Phonics-Based Passages. These activities are no-prep; just print and go! Each passage includes recording/accountability graphs and comprehension checks with fill-in-the-blank and short answer questions.

Game-Based Phonics Activities That Aren’t Boring

11 – Sound Cups

All you need are some paper cups and a marker. Flip the cups upside down and write 1 letter on the bottom of each cup, making sure to include all 26. Mix and spread the cups out so that all the letters are visible and you’re ready to play! This game can be played one-on-one with a student or in small groups by having the students take turns. As the teacher, you should name a person, place, or thing as your student searches for the first letter in the given word. The game will end when the student has collected all 26 cups.

12 – Alphabet BINGO (aff)

This activity is exactly what it sounds like! Alphabet BINGO is perfect for practicing phonics skills. I differentiate by focusing on letter naming/identification, first sounds, middle sounds, or ending sounds.

13 – Swat the Sound/Letter

Start by writing all 26 letters on the whiteboard (in no specific order) and grab 2 fly swatters (aff). Next, clear a walkway between the whiteboard and the back of the room and split your class into two mixed ability groups. The students should make 2 lines facing the whiteboard, and each line leader should be holding a fly swatter. As you announce a person, place, or thing, the students at the front of each line will race to the whiteboard and swat the first letter of whatever word was given to them.

*Teacher Tip: If you work with older students, this activity can be modified using digraphs or trigraphs.*

14 – Four Corners

First, pick 4 letters and create a slideshow with different objects that begin with those letters in no specific order. Write each letter in the center of a large piece of paper and tape them in the four corners of your classroom. Last, ask your students to stand in the middle of the room, and you’re all set to play! As you flip through the pictures in your slideshow, the students must identify each object, determine its first letter/sound, and walk to the correct corner of the room.

*Teacher Tip: Try playing with middle/ending sounds, digraphs, or trigraphs for more advanced students.*

15 – ZAP!

Grab some popsicle sticks and write 1 letter on each before placing them upside down inside a cup. Next, write “ZAP!” on 5-7 other sticks and add them to the same cup. Your students should sit in a circle, pulling popsicle sticks out of the cup and saying the name/sound of the letter they pull. If the student is correct, they get to keep the stick, but if they pull a “ZAP!” they must put all of their sticks back in the cup—the student with the most popsicle sticks when time up wins the game.
*Teacher Tip: Differentiate by creating versions of this game with CVC words, sight words, digraphs, trigraphs, etc.*

Other Phonics Activities and Resources

16 – Phonics Crowns

My kindergartners love Phonics Crowns! This is the perfect art/phonics activity to help introduce new letter sounds, blends, digraphs, and 3-letter blends. Give it a try, and your students will look forward to it every week.

17 – March Activities Packet

I recommend checking out the engaging phonics worksheets found in these K-2 March Activity Packets. Some of the activities include Rainbow Sounds, Digraph Word Searches, Color by Ending Sound, Ending Sound Picture Sort, and many more.

18 – Digital Phonics Cards

We all need engaging digital resources, and Digital Phonics Cards make the perfect skill check for the end of any phonics lesson. I like to use this as a whole group activity, first by demonstrating expectations, then selecting 3-5 volunteers to complete a card in front of the class. 

19 – Sound Wall with Mouth Pictures

If you’ve struggled to teach phonics while wearing a mask at school, Education to the Core’s new Sound Wall with real mouth pictures is a must! This sound wall will support you as you implement Science of Reading in your classroom and includes phoneme cards, mouth articulation photos, student worksheets, teaching slides, and so many other excellent resources.

20 – Phonics Interactive Notebook

If you teach kindergarten or 1st-grade teachers, you have to check out Phonics Interactive Notebooks! I’m excited to introduce this resource at the beginning of next year, so my students have comprehensive notebooks covering all the major phonics skills and concepts we cover throughout the year. 

 

 

 

Mastering phonics skills is a massive part of learning to read, so we have to make it as fun and engaging as possible. As teachers, we know the best learning opportunities happen when the students don’t feel like they’re learning at all, so kick those old, boring phonics worksheets to the curb! If you have a go-to activity that didn’t make our list, be sure to share it with us in the comments.

Written by – Madison Patten

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Welcome! I’m Emily, Founder of Education to the Core. We are all about helping K-2 teachers by providing unlimited access to affordable printables for every subject area.