Jumps or Hopscotch for letter sounds
Materials needed: letter sound flashcards
Age: Infants / Primary This game can be used to revise all the letter sounds and diagraphs.
- Spread a selection of cards on the floor with enough space so the children can jump to each card.
- Choose one child to participate and ask him/her to jump to a letter sound. Then ask the other children to select a sound and continue. The child participating has to recognise the letter sound and make the correct choice or he/she is ‘out’ and another child can play.
- The game can be varied with image flashcards and use the initial sound of the word of the picture. These can be topic, language activity or science related.
- High frequency words can be used to develop sight recognition and pronunciation.
- Words with target diagraphs and the alternative sounds can be used as the children progress with phonics.
Variation: use the game to develop an awareness of action verbs and changejump to a flashcard to skip, hop, walk, tip-toe, etc. This can be extended to adjectives, such as hop slowly to sound ‘e’… Children develop a greater understanding of grammatical structures when they participate in kinaesthetic games. Older children can play sentence hopscotch. The sentence is placed out of order on the floor, and the child has to hop the sentence word cards in the correct sequence.
Materials: empty water bottles, dried chickpeas, lentils, rice, etc. Letter sound cards or flashcards
Age: Infants / Primary
This game helps very young children to identify the sounds. Older children can play the game to identify initial, middle or end letter sounds or diagraphs.
- Fill six empty water bottles with various amounts of materials, so each bottle has a different sound.
- Write or stick the letter sound on each bottle, for example, s, a, t, i, p, n.
The shakers can be used in several ways …
- Infant children: Give the children the shakers and ask the children to shake if you have … t, shake if you have s …, etc. Hold up a letter card and the children have to shake the correct letter bottle. As the children extend their phonic knowledge the game becomes more challenging.
- Primary children: Use image flashcards and the children identify the initial or end sound of the word by shaking the correct bottle.
Diagraph bottles. The bottles have a diagraph and its alternatives. Use a target group of words and ask the children to shake the correct bottle, for example, say the word Snail … is it a ‘ay’ or ‘ai’ shaker?
Variation: The bottles can become skittles. Using a soft ball, try to knock over a target letter sound or diagraph. The shakers can be used to segment and identify how many sounds are in a word and when two letters make one sound.
Materials: Cardboard to make headbands. Letter sound cards.
Ages: Infants / Primary
This is a good team game to revise letter sounds and also English language class book unit vocabulary. Two children have a letter sound, diagraph or blend blu-tacked to a headband. The rest of the children are divided into two teams. The teams try and think of words that correspond with the letter sound on the headband.
For older children, the game can be varied by using words with the letter sound at the beginning, middle or the end of the word. Have a limit on the words per letter sound as children do not have a great wealth of vocabulary in Infants and Primary and they may become demotivated.
Variation: Make headbands for the target letter sounds eg s, a, t, i, p, n, and choose 6 children to play the game. Give the other children word cards with CVC (Consonant/Vowel/Consonant) or CVCC (Consonant/Vowel/Consonant/Consonant) words that can be made from the target letter sounds (if the children have been working with the group of letter sounds, they can blend the sounds together to read the word cards). The children with the headbands have to make the words by moving their body and remembering the letter sounds and the sequence of the letters. This multi-sensory way of spelling and reading words helps children write the same words confidently.
Make/Find a sound
Materials: Alphabet pasta, plastic letters, plasticine
This is an easy, cheap resource to help very young children develop their fine motor skills and letter shape/sound recognition. A large ice cream tub (or something of a similar size) filled with sand or dried beans. Mix in plastic letters (or alphabet pasta) and ask the children, working in small groups, to search for the target sounds. Plasticine letters. Making letters is a very kinaeastic process and develops letter sound recognition and fine motor skills. Make phonic letters special by adding glitter to the plasticine.
Variation: A large ice cream tub half filled with water. Put a selection of plastic letters in the water and freeze. When ready, add more water and plastic letters and then return to the freezer. Put the frozen block into a larger dish and leave to slowly melt. Young children can watch the letters appear through the ice over a period of time. The process also introduces young children to basic science concepts and time.
Materials: Three or four cardboard cubes
Age: Infants / Primary
- Make a set of cubes (templates available on the internet). One cube should have the vowels and the others, initial and end sounds or for older children, initial or end blends.
- The children play with the cubes and develop their knowledge of CVC and CCVCC words by blending the letter sounds together. Some words will be real and others made up, but encourage children to blend the letter sounds.
Variation: Make 3 or 4 giant cubes, so the whole class can participate. Letter sounds can be blu-tacked so the cubes are a reusable resource.
Materials: card and toilet rolls, sellotape
Age: Infants / Primary
This is a very easy tactile resource to make, encouraging children to use their phonic knowledge. Cover the toilet roll with card and make a tube to fit inside. On the inside tube, put an initial sound and on the toilet roll, an end blend. The phonic rolls can be as easy or complicated as you wish.
Variation: Fold some card and secure with sellotape. Make a strip, wide enough to fit inside the folded card slot inside. Write the target initial sound or blends.
Variation: As above, but for older children, put regular verbs in the past, present and future.
Bottle top letters
Materials: Plastic bottle tops, permanent marker
Age: Infants / Primary
Plastic bottle tops make a cheap, tactile resource.
- Simply write the letter sound, diagraph, blends on the surface of the lid. Vowels can be in a distinctive colour, diagraphs in another, etc. The game helps children recognise letter symbol and sounds, blending and segmenting.
- Make CVC, CVCC or CCVCC word cards.
- Use a strip of card and use the plastic lid as a template. For example, for a simple CVC word cat make 3 circles in a line using the plastic lids. Inside each circle, write each letter c, a, t, this is the word card and the child finds the plastic lids with the correct letters and places them on the word card.
Materials: Fan template, coloured markers, string
The fans are a tactile resource that when laminated, last for years. Fan templates are available on the internet.
- Simply write the target letter on each section. The fans can be used in groups or pairs, with one child with a simple word list and the other, using the fan to make the word.
- The process of moving the letters around in the fan, helps children remember the letter sequence of the word and then sounding it out correctly.
Variation: A fan can be used for every group of letter sounds, diagraphs, initial and end blends, etc. As children progress with their phonic knowledge, 2 or 3 fans can be used together to make more complicated words.
High frequency words
High frequency words are often difficult to learn because the blending and segmenting rules when using synthetic phonics, do not apply. Along with synthetic phonic games, it is important to introduce and learn the high frequency words through flashcards (sight recognition), reading, stories and wall displays. Children need to see the high frequency words in order to learn how to spell them. Every time you introduce a group of these words, add them to a display. Eventually, the children will not need the display, as they become confident in spelling these often difficult English words.