These phonics and phonemic awareness activities for kindergarten, first grade, and second grade are engaging and effective ways for students to practice their pre-reading skills. In this post, I am going to share 3 fun and easy activities you can take and use in your classroom right away.
Before I dive into the activities, I wanted to make sure you knew that you can also watch this content in video format by clicking play on the video below:
That video on my YouTube channel includes all the same information if you’d rather listen! To read the tips, just keep scrolling!
Activity 1: Explicit Teaching of Blending and Segmenting of Sounds
When you want students to blend sounds together to make a word, you want them to listen to the different word parts to create meaning. There are a few ways you can practice blending sounds. First, students can blend syllables. Here students are listening to 2 different syllables and students will blend them together to create a word. For example, /ta/ /ble/ = table or /win/ /dow/ = window. When doing this students are simply listening to you say each sound and then they practice putting them together.
This is a phonemic awareness activity so there is no print involved with this activity. Students are simply listening and blending.
Another way students can practice blending is to practice blending onset and rime. For this students would listen to the beginning of a word (/c/ /at/ = cat) and blend together to make a word. I typically like to have students practice blending onset and rime with the same beginning sound for a few examples in a row (/c/ /all/ = call, /c/ /up/ = cup). Students would practice blending these onsets and rimes about 5-10 times!
Lastly, students can practice blending individual phonemes. Instead of blending /c/ and /at/, now you will say /c/ /a/ /t/, and students will need to go ahead and blend all of those together to make the word.
Now with an explicit blending activity like this one, I like to have my students practice all three types of blending in one sitting. We will practice a few of each. As you can probably see, it doesn’t take too much time to practice these phonemic awareness activities and students don’t need to master blending syllables before going onto mastering phonemes. I like to give my students practice with all of them!
When students are blending the sounds, they are taking the sounds they hear and putting them together to make a word. Another phonemic awareness activity students should practice is phoneme segmentation. With phoneme segmentation, students are hearing the whole word and then breaking into parts.
For this, you will say a complete word and have students practice breaking apart the word into the same three categories as before! Students will listen to the word and break it into syllables, onset & rime, and individual phonemes!
Activity 2: Word Building
Alright, now we are moving into some phonics practice. As a quick reminder, phonemic awareness is an auditory skill where students need to HEAR the sounds. Phonics is when we attach print (letters) to the sounds.
I would kick off our phonics block with some fun phonemic and phonological awareness activities before moving into some phonics activities.
An easy way to practice phonics is through word building. You can do this whole group or small group. In whole groups, you can do this in front of students with magnets or letter cards. Students could also have their own magnets and letter cards and they can build the words you say aloud.
If you are working on short u, CVC words, you will want to include not only some letters to make short u words, but you’ll also want to spiral some letters/sounds you’ve previously taught as well. As you give students a word (mug) students will need to use their phonemic awareness skills to find the initial, medial, and final sounds AND their phonics skills to figure out which letters represent those sounds. They can then find the correct magnets or letter tiles to show the word on their own.
As students are building words, you could have students completely clear their boards and create a new word or you can have them use phoneme manipulation and have them only change out one letter at a time to make a new word. Example shown below:
To help this activity go along quickly and efficiently in the classroom, I would have students keep their own bags of letter magnets or letter tiles at their seats (or readily available in small group situations). I also like to only give a handful of letters at a time for students to work with.
Activity 3: Phonics Games
I love using games to review skills we’ve already learned in the classroom. Having students practice building their fluency when it comes to decoding and segmenting words through games is an engaging and enjoyable activity for them!
I spent an entire year creating purposeful phonics games for the following phonics patterns: CVC, CVCe, digraphs, blends, long vowel teams, r-controlled vowels and digraphs. For each of these skills, I crafted 6 fun phonics games that are designed to be effective and engaging for students.
Here are a few close up examples:
From my CVC unit:
From my CVCe unit:
In case you can’t tell from the pictures above, I also made these games all black and white and they require little to no prep at all for the teacher! Just grab some dice or a paper clip and some crayons and start playing!
To see ALL of the games, click below:
If you want to try a FREE phonics game to use in your classroom, I shared this one for you below:
If you’re looking for more phonics ideas, you might like this blog post I have where I share how I teach explicit phonics in my classroom:
Pin this post to remember: