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Synthetic Phonics Activities

Instructor: Maria Airth

Maria has a Doctorate of Education and over 20 years of experience teaching psychology and math related courses at the university level.

The activities included here will encourage your students to practice their phonics recognition through movement. Fun, active games will keep your early elementary students engaged in the process of identifying phonics sounds and spelling early reader words.

Activities Related to Synthetic Phonics

Accomplished readers often take reading for granted, but teachers of early readers know just how challenging it can be to learn to fit sounds together to create meaning. Early readers are most often also young children. Children learn best when engaged in play-based learning activities. For that reason, a great way to support your early elementary, early readers is to involve them in games and activities that will seem more like playtime than school work.

The activities offered here are designed for young readers to practice synthetic phonics while engaging in fun and active games.

Crossing the Pond

This activity includes lots of full body movement that will help your students connect with phonics.

Materials

  • List of target words
  • Letter cards (large enough for a student to stand on)
    • Laminate them for longevity or
    • Use poster paper to create the cards for durability
    • You will need multiples of each letter
    • Make sure the letters are suited to your current target words
  • Tape

Set-up

  • Choose a large open area in which to play.
  • Tape the letter cards on the ground, face up.
    • The cards represent stepping stones on which students will 'cross the pond' while spelling out words.
    • Taping is a safety measure; use any method of securing the cards that you have available.

Instructions

  • Ask your students to stand on one side of the pond.
  • Explain that they will need to listen carefully to the word that you say and then they will need to cross the 'pond' area by stepping on the letters to spell the word in the correct order.
  • Go through an example:
    • If I say 'cat', then you must step on a c, then an a and finally a t.
  • You can divide your class into two teams and have them compete to see which team can get to the other side first (one student at a time).
    • If you choose to have students work in teams, allow the team members to help each other sound out the words and find the correct letters.
  • Keep reading through your list of target words until all students are across the pond

Alternative

  • This can be played as a board game using game pieces, word cards and a board covered in letters.
    • Two players take turns either moving their pieces or reading out word cards.
    • One player reads a word and the other player must move his/her game piece from letter to adjacent letter to spell out the word correctly.
      • If a player spells the word incorrectly he/she must return to the starting point of that turn.
      • If a player is unable to make an adjacent move to the next letter in a word, then his/her turn is over and the piece remains where it is.
  • If the players are poor readers, consider reading the word for them or assigning a third (strong reader) to be the designated word reader.

Twisted Twister

This game will allow you to focus on the position of sounds in words.

Materials

  • List of target words, like:
    • Cat
    • Bat
    • Car
  • Laminated (optional) letter cards (full piece of paper size)
    • Use poster paper for durability if not laminating
    • You will need multiples of each letter.
    • Make sure your letters match your target word list.
  • Tape

Set-up

  • Tape the letter cards down to the floor in a large grid pattern.
    • This is for safety so that the cards do not slip around on children; use any method of sticking the cards to the floor that you have available.

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