Small Group Phonics Warm Up: What’s Missing?

February 3, 2019

How do you start your guided reading groups? What about your morning meeting? I love to have this  warm up posted on the board so while I get my last minute things ready, students are already revving up their brains! It’s called, “What’s Missing?” and I play this small group game two different ways that I wanted to share with you:



This fun phonics (or math) warm up is one that I’ve used for years. To play, students use must determine which letter is missing from the list of words. In the example below, students must choose the 1 letter that fits into all 3 spaces (o). This can be tricky because they may think it is (a) at the beginning! I will also do this with strands of letters or numbers (shown below). In this scenario, students must determine that we are skip counting by 2s and figure which number is missing (8). With the alphabet, I go ahead and take a portion of the alphabet and students must determine which letter I omitted (i).



The other way we play this game is with some fun cards and brown paper bags! I like to play this way in small groups because I can easily assess each student while they complete it indpendently. The idea of the game is still the same in this format, just the way we play is slightly different. In this game, each student receive their own bag and a recording sheet. Inside the bag will be 3-4 cards all missing the same letter. Students will independently look at their cards, determine which letter is missing, and record it on their sheet. Then, students will pass their bag around and repeat the process until they’ve finished all the bags.

I also like to play this way because I choose cards that are specific to what the students in that group are working on (short vowels, digraphs, blends, etc.)


After years of playing this game, I have compiled a bunch of cards in one easy place!  I like having them all there to just quickly print and play when we need a little review. You can find them all over here in my TPT store:


This game was the 6th in my YouTube game series, so you can click below to see more about how to play by watching the video below:

If you like this game, you’ll probably like my other posts:

Erase ‘Em – literacy or math game

Find the Fish – sight word or number ID game



Pin to remember:

Looking for a new game to kick off your guided reading or phonics group? This easy warm up has students figuring out what is missing from a list of words, letters, or numbers! Head on over to the blog post to learn how to play!

This fun phonics game has students determining which letter is missing from a group of words! I love to play this with my first and second grade students since you can choose different cards based on specifically what they are learning: short vowels, digraphs, blends, etc. Head on over to the post to learn how to play!

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  • Love these videos! I’m teaching kindergarten remotely so I love the new ideas/games to keep kids engaged on Zoom.

  • I LOVE all of your ideas! I really enjoy watching your videos ! I wish my own children had you as a teacher! Thank you for sharing!