Phonics Friday - Small Group Phonics Activities

These last few weeks have been 50 shades of cray.  I'm not sure if I told y'all, but we got a roommate :)  She's actually a friend of my niece's and she was starting her first semester of student teaching here in town.  She had never been to Texas before and was a little wary of living so far from home (Indiana), so she was going to be staying with us until December.  Remember how hard it was to student teach all day & not get paid??  And then rush home, get changed, and wait tables until midnight??  And then wake up at 5:30 the next day and do it all again?  Or was that just me?!?!  We were excited to help her out so she didn't have to do the same.  

She got here last week and her first few days were abruptly disturbed when she got a call saying her dad had a heart attack.  Praise Jesus he is OK!!!!!  However, after lots of prayer she decided it would be best to move back home to be closer to her family....a choice she will NEVER regret.  We, however, miss her to pieces.  She was such a blessing to our little family in the very short time she was here...wise beyond her years!!  The school that gets her is in for a real treat and those kids and their families....blessed. 

Now that we have said our goodbyes, it's time to go ahead with a little Phonics Friday action.

In last Monday's post I said I'd be back today to chat more about the small group games and activities I use during guided reading.  SO let's chat about that.  While these aren't the only games and activities I use, these are a few that have been tremendously helpful...and successful...the last few years in the classroom.  

One of the skills...especially in Kindergarten...that seems to be challenging to many of my kids is sound substitution and deletion.  I take a lot of different opportunities to integrate this skill and practice throughout the day.  We do a lot of this during our calendar time.  When  we talk about the days of the week, I'll often say, "Who can say the word Thursday without the /th/.  What new word do we get when we say the word 'week' without the /k/?  Change the /m/ in Monday to /t/...what new word does it make?  Is it a real word or a nonsense word?"  Those are just a few quick ways I incorporate that skill during my calendar time...takes all of maybe 2 minutes...and they're getting that exposure and repeated practice.  When I want something more in depth and focused, I use these activities/games...

I use the sound substitution prompt cards for quick assessment and review.  It gives me the opportunity to informally assess my kids and check in with their abilities.  Then I know who needs intervention, more one-on-one, etc.  Because the prompt cards aren't necessarily "exciting" for the kids, I made some game boards to go with it.  I read the prompt cards aloud and the kids have to find the picture on their game board that matches the new word.  So, if the prompt card says "Say the word BEEP.  Now say the word BEEP with a /j/", they have to find the picture of a JEEP on their game board and cover it with a counter.  The first person to cover X amount of pictures (4 in a row..3 down...4 corners..blackout, etc.), wins.  They LOVE this!!!  I love taking these kinds of skills and turning them into games that are fun for the kids, but also provide learning opportunities!

Here's the same concept for a related consonant deletion. Prompt cards and game boards. 

Here's another final consonant deletion activity we do at teacher table....puzzles!  I know this seems more like an independent activity...and that's what it eventually becomes...but when I'm first introducing the concept of final consonant deletion, these puzzles are key!  These visuals take an abstract concept and make it more concrete.  I'll place about 8-10 puzzles in the middle of the group/table and then have my kids race to assemble correctly.  Sometimes I'll set a timer and see who can match the most pairs in 1/2/3 minutes, etc. or I'll have them play 'til my sand timer runs out.  Eventually...after most of my kids have mastered this concept...I'll move this activity to my fast finisher tubs and give them more opportunities for repeated practice.

Now let's move on to long and short vowels.  I introduce the concept of vowels VERY early in the year (in Kindergarten).  It's something we are constantly talking about.  After all, they're the glue that holds our words together.  It's important they know the difference between a vowel and a consonant and start working to identify both.  

Because we love games so much in our classroom, I created more game boards we use to identify both short and long vowel sounds.  I have spinners or short vowels, spinners for long vowels, and then combined spinners (as pictured below) for both vowel sounds.  For the combined vowel sounds, I'll spin the spinner and then we identify the vowel sound...long or short...then the kids search their game boards to find a picture that has the matching vowel sound and cover it with their counter.  The first player to cover X amount of pictures first, wins.  

Do y'all's kids stack cups in PE?  I can't remember what it's called, but fast stacking??  Maybe?!?!  LOL.  I'm sure that's not it.  Anyway, I realized my kids love to "build" when I saw them stacking cups in PE.  I thought that was so cool.  I try to bring that concept into the classroom.  Although these aren't cups, you could definitely incorporate them with an activity like this.  The idea for this activity is to have kids build a pyramid of vowel sounds starting from the bottom to the top.  I have a set of short and long vowel cards.  My kids have their own "build a pyramid" game mat and a set of double sided counters (any counter will work).  Then I turn over the vowel cards, one at a time, say the word on the card and then the kids have to identify the vowel sound they hear in the middle.  This game is a little tricky because they have build the bottom row before they can move to the middle and top.  All vowel sounds have to be covered on bottom, so if I turn over a card that shows "toe", and they don't have a long o on the bottom of their pyramid, they can't cover anything up.  They have to wait 'til the next card is flipped.  The first person to build their pyramid, wins! 

Another important skill where repeated practice is necessary is blending onsets and rimes.  I think it's really important to give our kids opportunities to decode words in AND out of context.  These blend strips are great for that!  The kids read the onset and then choose a rime.  Both rimes on the strips will make a real word.  They write the word and illustrate it.  I give my kids about 5 blend strips each during small group and use this as a warm-up activity.  To extend the activity, I'll have them incorporate one of their words in a sentence.  Depending on our objectives, I may even have them write a sentence incorporating one of their words...maybe a guided writing activity, etc.  I love that this provides them with the "out of context" opportunity for blending sounds.  

Speaking of blending sounds out of context, this is how we incorporate that skill into our small group time.  Spin and blend word wheels!  The onsets are printed on the outer wheel and the rimes on the inner wheel.  Kids just spin the inner wheel and when it stops they have to go around the wheel one onset and rime at a time and blend them together.  I give them dry erase boards to record the real and nonsense words they can make with each spin.  This is usually incorporated as a warm-up activity and we typically only spin once.  What I love about this activity is that they come up with different words each time they spin. Once my kids understand how this activity works, I'll put these in our fast finisher/anchor activity tubs for repeated practice.  They LOVE these!!!

These sound isolation & identification cards are great for small group, too.  Anytime I create something for small group practice, I try to make sure it can be used independently too.  That's what I love about these cards.  They have to look at the picture and then isolate the indicated sound in the top left corner that they hear in the word.  Then they have to identify where they hear the sound in the word...beginning/middle/end.  To extend the isolation and identification piece, they build the word as well.  I set out a tray of my letter tiles OR I give them dry erase markers and a dry erase sleeve.  Just depends on the time we have and what my objective is for the day.  I always introduce the CVC cards first and then we move onto the CCVC and eventually the CVCe.  By the time we et to the more challenging skills and concepts, they're already familiar with the activity and catch on really quickly.  This makes a great warm-up and/or fast finisher/anchor activity, too.

Finally, we have our Deep Dish Digraphs.  Who doesn't love pizza?! I love teaching digraphs.  I typically start with these around November when we're in Kindergarten because they see these spelling patterns in so many of their leveled readers.  Equipping them with the knowledge they need to be successful is important to me, but to make this skill exciting and relevant we play this little game.  
I have some old Domino's pizza boxes (not used) and I store the pizza pieces inside.  I place the box in the center of the group/table and then choose a digraph spinner.  I have spinners for all different vs. sh, ch/th/ph/wh/sh, etc.  Just depends on what I've introduced, the objective, and what I want to review/practice.  Each of my kids gets a pizza pan (on cardstock).  The pizza slices are placed in the box face down.  I spin the digraph spinner and then each of the kids reaches into the box and pulls out a pizza slice.  If they pull out a slice with the matching digraph sound, they place it on their pizza pan.  If not, they wait 'til the next spin.  The first person to build a pizza pie, wins!  They LOVE this game!!!!  They eat it up (<-------see what I did there?!?!?!)

Whew!!  That's a LOT of phonics for one day!!!  Ha!!!  If you're interested in any of these activities, just click on the pictures above to take you to the links.  You can grab each of them individually OR you can grab the bundle and save!!  Click on the pic below for more ....


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  2. These activities look wonderful! You are so creative! I am an administrator now, but will pass this on to my teachers. Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. These activities look wonderful! You are so creative! I am an administrator now, but will pass this on to my teachers. Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. Wonderful and brilliant ideas. You are a creative force! I've already added these activities to my TPT wish list.

  5. Why are substitution and deletion of sounds concepts so important?

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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