Adventures in Literacy Land: Phonics

Showing posts with label Phonics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Phonics. Show all posts

Five {Freebies} for Friday

If you visited Literacy Land yesterday, then you already had a sneak peek at today's topic.  In yesterday's {post}, we discussed the differences in phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, and phonics.  I promised to be back again today with a follow-up post to share five fabulous freebies.

Freebie #1 is being offered by Em from Curious Firsties.  She wrote a guest blog post for Reading Toward the Stars describing how she makes the most out of the phonological awareness portion of her guided reading lesson.  Em has 3-5 precious minutes to develop PA, so her instruction must be meaningful and effective.  You can read all about the fun her students have with nursery rhymes and pick up this rhyming {freebie} while you're at it.  

Sound Boxes can be a great tool to use for teaching phonemic segmentation. Freebie #2 is being offered by Lori from Conversations in Literacy.  This set has four different monster themed sound boxes.  As you say a word, students slide tokens into a sound box for each sound they hear. Click on the picture to download.

Who doesn't love coloring Easter eggs?  These Dippin' Eggs take sound boxes to the next level.  Students will learn to segment and write words in a super fun way!  Freebie #3 comes to you from Jennie @ JD's Rockin' Readers.  If you like this activity, be sure to pick up Jennie's other free holiday themed sound boxes.

Update: This freebie has expired.
Emily from The Reading Tutor OG is offering her Phoneme Segmentation Cards as a freebie for a limited time only.  

Build and strengthen phonemic awareness with this awesome product, but's only free through Sunday. 

Update: This freebie has expired.
Phonemic awareness is essential in the development of spelling and phonics skills.  It's important for teachers to make the connection between phonemes and graphemes.  Carla from Comprehension Connection is offering our final freebie of the day.  This making words activity pack has color-coded letter tiles for students to manipulate.  Students can sound-stretch words, spell them with tiles, and write them on white boards.  It's yours free only through Sunday.

Over the course of the last two days, I hope I've offered you a few ideas that you can add to your teacher's toolbox.

If you download a freebie and love what you see, please leave the author some friendly feedback as a token of your appreciation.  :)

Have a fabulous Friday!

Freebie Fridays


Inspiration for Multi-Sensory Phonics Activities

Hi everyone! It's Bex here from Reading and Writing Redhead. While working on phonics during RTI, I try and make the repeated practice as interesting and varied as possible, while still being effective. There are so many ways to teach phonics in a multi-sensory way and it can make such an impact on your students, I thought I would share some of the things I have tried, some tried and true strategies, and a couple new ideas with you.

Multi-Sensory Phonics Activities

The definition of multi-sensory activities from the International Dyslexia Association: "Multisensory teaching is simultaneously visual, auditory, and kinesthetic-tactile to enhance memory and learning. Links are consistently
made between the visual (what we see), auditory (what we hear), and kinesthetic-tactile (what we feel) pathways in learning to read and spell."  To put it in simpler terms, it is teaching to read or spell by making connections between the visual, auditory, and tactile (what we see, hear and feel/touch). If you use a multi-sensory approach to teach phonics, children are at an advantage because they are learning by tapping into all three pathways, not just the visual as they would if you only used pencil and paper - plus it is much more engaging and interesting to children!

I have a great deal of suggestions for you of activities and materials that incorporate the kinesthetic into teaching phonics and phonemic awareness. Many of these ideas have been around for a long time, so I don't know who originally thought of them but if I saw anything new (to me) recently, I include a link to the blog post or website where I saw it.

Playdoh: Roll the letters to make words but you can also flatten Play Doh into pancake-type pieces and "carve" the letters in them.

Craft Sand, Flour, Salt, Sugar, Rice, Spaghetti: Use them at your own risk because they can be quite messy - but also quite effective! Different teachers have tried different things, like putting the sand into a dish washing tub or a large baking pan to contain the mess. Regardless of how you use it, making letters in these materials is great for making kinesthetic connections.

Plastic Screen/Red Crayons: Plastic screens can be bought in craft stores or stores like Michaels and AC Moore in the yarn sections. Place paper over it and use red crayon (I suppose that you could use any color but it was introduced to me by a colleague as "red words")  to write letters and words. When done, the words have a bumpy texture and can be read letter by letter or a whole word at a time.

Shaving Cream: make letters in the cream with your fingers. For easier clean up you can use the shaving cream on a tray instead of a desk, although I have heard the cream also cleans surfaces well (and leaves a nice scent).

Chalk: On the chalkboard, or even better, get everyone outside and use sidewalk chalk to write your words!

Foam Alphabet Stamps:  alone or dip in paint

Alphabet Cookie Cutters - with cookie dough  or play dough

Phonics Pebbles: I had never heard of these until recently but you can buy them at places like Really Good Stuff or Amazon. They look like a neat idea! But they are fairly pricey.  If you have the time, patience and lots of pebbles nearby you could make your own.

Balloons: Write words you are working on on the balloons, toss them, and whichever word your hand is touching, you read aloud. For a different twist on this, use balls instead. No Time for Flash Cards has an awesome post on how she did this with ping pong balls!

Glitter Glue:  My second graders love these for art projects so why couldn't you use them to help with phonics and phonemic awareness instruction too?

Pipe Cleaners: bend and shape them into the letters you need.

Wikki Stix or Bendaroos (I have heard Bendaroos are less expensive): Bend those wax covered sticks into the letters and sounds you are working on like you would with pipe cleaners.

Twister: Instead of playing with colors write words with different word families you are working on on the mat with dry erase marker (you can wipe it off and write new ones later). When the spinner lands on red, fox example, you would put a foot on a "ack" word or a hand on a "ike" word. You can also tape index cards with words on them onto the twister board.

 Mom to 2 Posh Lil' Divas has a terrific post on how she uses this.

Hit The Word: Tape word cards to wall (scattered) and toss a ball. Whichever word you hit, say, or  you can do the opposite, read a word, then hit it with the ball. You can do the same with words on the wall and a fly swatter, or just use words on paper at a desk, easel or white board  and hit with a fly swatter after reading it.

Wilson (or other brand) magnetic tiles: If you are using regular letter tiles or Wilson tiles you can use them on the table just fine, but also try using them on an old cookie sheet. Ask parents to send in cookie sheets they don't need any more.

Block Towers: For each word with a particular phonics sound such as short i, or each rhyming word, the child adds a block to the tower. What child doesn't like making towers? It sounds fun to see how tall it can go and it is fun when everything falls down, too. Admit it, you've smiled and laughed even as adult when you or your child or student knocks a tower over!

There are many more ways to get the kinesthetic  sense  involved with learning. It is a great way to help your struggling readers learn phonics skills while having tons of fun!  You also may want to head over to Emily's blog: The Reading Tutor/OG because she has tons of terrific phonics suggestions, among many other literacy ideas. What other suggestions do you have?


Helping to Make Nonsense Words "Real"

Nonsense words...for a long time I just asked why?  Why do words like wez, tix, pum, or sek need to be a part of my life?  Why do I have to complete assessments to determine if students can read these words?  Why do these fake words frustrate me!?

But as I gained more teaching experience, worked with more and more struggling readers, observed others, had many professional conversations, my outlook changed.  I realized that when using nonsense word assessments, I can analyze how that particular student is decoding.  I started to see that these nonsense words are inside larger words and if they can read these nonsense words, it is going to help them read the multi syllabic words.

I have to admit, this was an important step in my teaching.  FINALLY! There is a purpose!   I understood how these nonsense words related to my teaching.  But that led to another can I make these nonsense words more meaningful to my students?  After some brainstorming sessions, my teaching-mate and I came up with some ways!

Analyzing  how a particular student is decoding during a nonsense word progress monitoring helps me to determine how I need to change my interventions.
Here are some examples:

  • student can say all three sounds but can not blend them together
  • student can say all three sounds but the first sound is left out when blended together
  • student can say the three sounds but when blending, vowel sound is incorrect
  • student consistently says certain sounds incorrectly
  • student can successfully blend all three sounds but it is very slow
  • student can successfully say the nonsense words quickly and accurately

Once the assessment is complete, the student and I have a quick conversation about what we can work on.  Here are some things that have come from those conversations:

  • For one student this year, we noticed that he was getting confused on the letters b and d.  He was using a resource on the wall but needed a quicker reference.  So we put a post-it in front of him at the guided reading table with the letters "Bb   Dd" on it.  After a few weeks, the student no longer needed this resource.
  • Another student could say the three sounds but could not accurately put those together.  So we discussed this and came up with some strategies to help her.  I noticed her using these strategies when she was reading words in isolation and in text.  YES!

It is really important for our students to realize that nonsense words are found in multi syllabic or "bigger" words.  My teaching partner made these cards to help show our students the nonsense words inside the "bigger" word. (I posted more about it HERE)

I also created some sheets to help them look for the nonsense words or "smaller" parts.  They will get the highlighted sheet first so that the nonsense words stand out to their little eyes quickly.  Then I can take this intervention away so they can see those parts on their own.

I also realized that my students needed to understand that these nonsense words or "smaller" parts can belong in more than just one word.  Some of them would read the first part of the word and shout out what they thought it was, such as "comic" even though it was the word "comet."  They were not looking through the whole word.

Because of this I made up more cards (like the ones above) that had several of the same nonsense words embedded in them.  This forced them to look through the whole word. Here are some examples of those words:
Establishing purpose for the lessons, games, and assessments that we do in the classroom has a strong impact on our students.  It helps them to take more ownership over their own learning.  Thankfully, I discovered the purpose in nonsense words and could make my lessons and assessments more meaningful for my students.

If you would like to use these nonsense word sheets, please click on the image below.


Phonics: The Recommendations and What They Might Mean to You

Hi everyone! It's Bex from Reading and Writing Redhead with some phonics recommendations. Read on to learn more, see what it might mean in your classroom and for some resource ideas!
Why is phonics instruction so important? I went to school (and student taught) when it seemed like whole language was all the rage. Luckily for me, I found it easy to learn to read and write. Things came naturally to me so I did not have to have phonics instruction in order to succeed as a reader. Unfortunately, that is not going to work for all students. As a reading specialist, I am always thinking about those students who are struggling. We now know that learning phonics will help children learn to read and spell. Written language is like a code, so knowing what sounds the letters and combinations of letters make will help students decode words while reading. Knowing phonics skills will also help students decide what letters to use when they are encoding (or writing words down- or these days, perhaps writing them in a text message or on social media?).

The National Reading Panel examined tons of reading research to find out what it tells us about teaching phonics. I could explain in more detail what kind of studies they used, and how they did it, but let me give you the abridged version. After analyzing all the studies,  the National Reading Panel determined that  phonics is an  essential part of beginning reading instruction. Specifically, systematic and explicit  (follows a particular order/sequence and is directly taught) phonics instruction is more effective than other kinds of phonics instruction or no phonics at all.

What might systematic and explicit phonics instruction look like in your classroom?
  •     teaching letter shapes and names
  •     teaching phonemic awareness
  •     teaching sound/spelling relationships of both consonants and vowels
  •    ensuring that students have tons of practice applying the knowledge of  letter-sound relationships  as they learn to read
  •    ensuring that students practice this knowledge when learning to encode (spell words in their     writing)
  •   using texts that contain many words students can decode using what they have learned 
  •   providing students with opportunities to practice spelling words and writing stories while               applying their knowledge of letter-sound relationships

Let me break down some of the more specific recommendations and share what this may mean for your teaching and your students.

 Research has shown that students who received phonics instruction in kindergarten or grade 1 are more successful in learning to read than students who did not. Okay... but WHY is this? I suppose it is for several reasons. A few I can think of may be that kindergarten and first grade is when the bulk of getting students to "learn to read" occurs. After first grade, most children know how to read and you might only teach basic phonics skills systematically to students who have never had it and are also struggling to read. I can't imagine a teacher saying, "This student is new to our school and never was taught phonics, and is reading above grade level, so we need an interventionist to teach her phonics skills".  So, if students receive appropriate instruction in phonics from the get go , they will be less likely to struggle, and those struggling students who never had phonics and who start learning later than grade one tend to not make as much progress and see the same type of success? 

Of course, phonics can be taught to older students and can be used with older students by doing activities with suffixes, prefixes, word origins and more!

 It takes a while for a student to get to where has has instant recognition of words. In the meantime, teaching phonics helps students improve word recognition skills by providing information on which letters and letter combinations make what sounds (such as that ir, er, and ur all make the same sound). Also, with an understanding of more advanced concepts like rhyming and syllabication, the student has a lot of tools that he can keep in his reading "toolbox" for when he comes to new words when reading.

As far as comprehension, if a student can recognize or decode words quickly and easily, he is  much more likely to understand what he is  reading.

With spelling, what usually happens is as a child's reading skills improve, so does his spelling. Instructing students on letter-sound relationships also your student tools to use when trying to encode (spell) a new word. For example, if a student wants to write the word "turn" but has never done so, he can draw on knowledge that t makes the first sound of turn, n is the ending sound, and that the middle sound is probably er, ir, or ur. This is why when students are learning to spell you may come across spellings that are close and that make sense, but not quite correct, such as "tirn" for "turn".

Quality phonics instruction helps students no matter what their background may be. I don't know if there is much that needs to be explained here, but even if a child comes from a home where  there are no reading materials, or if a student is an ELL student, effective phonics instruction gives them the tools to decode words and develop their skills as a reader.

Reading Specialists are often doing phonics  interventions with students who need extra help; however, classroom teachers can and should teach phonics to all students. Here are some general tips, whether you are teaching your whole class or a small group (or tutoring an individual student).

  • Focus on a few regular sound and spelling patterns and then move into irregular sounds and spellings later 
  • Include a lot of practice (fun, not tiring!). There are tons of resources to make phonics instruction and practice fun.
  • Use multisensory materials and strategies. Paper and pencil gets tedious!
  • Frequently review previously taught material, especially with students who have struggled to learn to read. This will ensure they do not lose skills they previously learned.
  • Include words and text at an appropriate developmental level for the students
  • Give immediate feedback if students make errors - it may be better to correct them so they don't learn it wrong, but you can give feedback in a positive way rather than be overly critical.
  • Frequent assessment (formal and informal) will help you see if students are making sufficient progress.

So phonics is important, but research and experience has taught us that the best reading programs are well balanced. Students should be working with the alphabet, doing phonemic awareness activities, listening to stories and texts read aloud, reading texts themselves, and practicing writing in whatever way is appropriarte (words, stories, letters, poems...) 

Also, keep in mind the major areas of reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. If you want to see our other blog posts of those topics, click on the "Topics" heading up at the top of our page and find the one you want to see more of!

Here are some resources for phonics instruction that I have come across. Do you have a resource to share or a link? Please comment below and let us know!

Geraldine Giraffe Videos - my class loves her! She is a puppet that teaches phonics skills. The link will take you to Mr. Thorne's youtube channel. he also has awesome lessons that he does himself without Geraldine.

Teachers Cauldron's Reading Mini Lesson with Phonics 

Make Take Teach's Phonics Folder Games and Actvities and segmenting and blending activities

Teacher Mom of 3 has a guest blogger with great information about phonics and some resources

Applicious Teacher has a helpful post about phonics in action with some resources for you

 Run! Miss Nelson's Got the Camera shares some fun way to teach phonics

Games 4 Learning has a phonics freebie

Heidisongs has a detailed post on the DIBELS (reading assessment) and what phonics skills are involved, aslong with resources to help students

Sarah Winchell's Teaching Resources for the Classroom always has great information and freebies for you. a recent post has a free phonics game.

On Teachers Pay Teachers Marsha McGuire has a throrough resource of word work.

Karen Jones has a huge phonics pack you can check out.

You can also take look at my Mystery Words Pack or the individual sets to help students review common letter and sound combinations.

Online games and activities include:
Phonics games at a UK site

Phonics games online Family learning
Starfall's website