As we all know, one of the best ways to teach a child is to keep them engaged and interested in fun activities and games. Each child is different, so different games or activities may be more effective at catching and holding their interest. Here are some of our favorite games and activities to get your child interested in learning phonics.
If you need any more phonics help, check out our Vowels and Consonants Home page for lessons, flashcards, and articles.
Flashcards are a great tool for teaching children. They become an effective way of drilling at any time. If you have 5 minutes here or there, then you can review them.
Unfortunately, flashcards are not super fun. So, to get your kids engaged, we designed our flashcards to be drawn on and colored. Each flashcard comes with a small drawing that represents an object or animal that has the same sound as the target letter. As well, each flashcard has a drawing that can be colored. Hidden inside this drawing, is a big and little letter that corresponds to the flashcard’s target letter.
Engage your kids with these flashcards by encouraging them to make them their own, and then use them in fun review games so that phonics time feels less like a chore, and more like playtime.
Flashcard Hit Race
This is a favorite game of mine. You will need a deck of flashcards and a bit of open space.
Take 5 or 6 flashcards and lay them out on the ground, or pin them to a whiteboard with a magnet. Line the players up in front of the flashcards, and then call out one of the letters, you can call out either the name of the letter or the sound. The players will then race to hit the flashcard and then say the name or sound of the letter.
Use this to practice whatever you feel needs to be practiced. One effective way to use this game, is to use flashcards of similar sounds to force the players to think about which flashcard to hit. I have found this to be a super-effective way of teaching vowels.
You can mix it up by calling the letter name, and then having the players call out the sound or vice versa. Ideally, you play this game with two or more kids, but if you only have one child playing, you can pair them up with mom or dad, or time them and shoot for a record time.
“I Spy” is a classic road trip game where one person who is “it” will choose an object that they can currently see. They will then say, “I spy with my little eye, something that starts with …”. Parents can choose objects that they know that their children are familiar with. For example a ball, “I spy with my little eye something that starts with B.” The child could then look around and guess the object that their parent is thinking of.
For very young learners, guessing the object by saying its name is okay. As they advance, make sure they use full sentences (It is that ball.) or questions (Is it this bear?).
Flashcard Letter Pairing Memory Game
This will require two pairs of flashcard decks. This game is pretty easy to learn. Pick four pairs of flashcards (for example, 2 A’s, 2 B’s, 2 C’s, and 2 D’s). Fold them so that four of them have the letter on one side and the letter-find on the back, while the other four will have the picture on one side and the letter-find on the other.
All eight cards are shuffled, and then placed with the letter-find side up. Your child will then randomly pick two cards to flip over. If the card flips and shows a letter, then have them say the letter’s name and the sound (“A”, /a/). If it is a picture, then have the child say the sound and then identify what the picture is (/a/, apple). The child wants to pair the letter with the appropriate picture (for example, “A” and apple). If they do are able to do that, then those two flashcards will stay face up. If the two cards do not match, then the two cards will be put back face down. Continue until all of the cards are face up.
Find the Flash Card
Find the Flash Card is an easy game especially for young children. Show your child three flashcards and review the sounds (AAA, /a/ /a/ /a/, apple). Then, have your child face the corner or close their eyes while you hide them around the room or house. Then, let your child loose to go find the flashcards. Make sure they repeat the sounds and identify the picture when they find it.
Assisted Reading (Sound it out Practice)
Reading is always a great idea, and what kid doesn’t like storytime? For young kids, reading a full story in English is going to probably be too hard. Instead, read to your kids, and when you come across an easy word, have them “sound it out”. “Sound it out” is where we take each letter, say the sound they make, and put them together to make a word. For example, for the word sad, you can “sound it out” by saying /s/ /a/ /d/ “sad”. Sounding out words is a great way to review phonics, and is great practice for the next step they need to take in reading, moving from letters to words.
One of the best things about learning English is that there is a huge amount of resources all over the internet. One of the best places to look is YouTube. YouTube has a ton of great songs to teach kids basic English. Below I have links to some of our favorite YouTube channels.