Posted on

10 Phonics Games for Kids to Build Reading Skills

learning styles

10 Phonics Games for Kids to Build Reading Skills

A Creative Approach to Word Retention and Reading Comprehension

Let’s face it: following a workbook can get dull, and not every child learns best by copying letters and sounds. At YesPhonics, we know that learning is multisensory, and that every child learns differently. Last month we wrote about how play is crucial to healthy child development; today we’re following up with some specific things you can do to reincorporate play into your teaching.

Below, we’ve listed and described 10 different reading and phonics games for kids. You can throw these games together in an hour or less, and play them again and again.

We encourage you to use these ideas to come up with games of your own. After all, you know your child best. Tomake phonics fun, find a way to incorporate phonics into the games your kids already love to play.

To make phonics fun, find a way to incorporate phonics into the games your kids already love to play. Click to Tweet

Scoop and Spell

Great for: The Thinker

Supplies:

Letters of the Alphabet (fridge magnets, Scrabble tiles, etc.)

A bag

A scoop (A small bowl, an old snack container, etc. Two small hands will even do the trick.)

Set Up:

All you have to do is mix the letters in the bag and let your child take a scoop!

To Play:

Let your child scoop out letters. See how many words he can make. Have him copy them onto a sheet of paper to Friedrichs v. California Teachers Associationkeep score. To keep the game interesting, encourage him try to beat his last record.

This game is great because it practices spelling and penmanship. It also helps kids enjoy the creativity involved in using language, even if it’s just arranging and rearranging letters—if they come up with “dog” and “god” in the same scoop, they’ll be proud of themselves for finding the connection between those words and they’ll start to feel comfortable making further connections on their own.

Sidewalk Spelling Hop

Great for: The Athletic Learner

Supplies:

Sidewalk Chalk

Pavement (Your driveway is perfect, but a sidewalk is too small)

Set Up:

Make a square of six boxes across and five down. Write out the letters of the alphabet. In the remaining four empty squares, put a star, a question mark, the words “Capital Letter” and an apostrophe.

The Rules:

Always start and end on the star.

Try to get to the next letter without stepping on any of the others. Running around is an option.

Jump on the question mark if you get stuck.

Proper nouns and names have to start on the “Capital Letter” before moving on to the first letter.

If you misspell a word, you have to start over.

To Play:

Increase Test Scores: GuaranteedCall out words your child can spell, especially those off his spelling list, and have him hop on the appropriate letters. Competition always makes things interesting, so try challenging friends and siblings to see who can spell more words.

This is a great way to connect muscle memory to words, which builds memory. As we’ll talk about below, the more your child can associate movements with specific phonemes the easier it’ll be for them to recall them. This game is a great first step toward that kind of retention.

Spelling Connect Four

Great for: The Thinker

Supplies:

Connect Four Game

Masking Tape

Permanent Marker

Set Up:

Put masking tape on each of the Connect Four pieces and write out the letters of the alphabet. Make sure to include extra vowels, and some of the more common letters: T, N, S, H, R, D, L.

To Play:

learning stylesThis is almost like scrabble. Have your child drop a word, then you drop in a word of your own. Letters can be added to make words longer like “fad” to “fade” to “faded”. You can play where any letter is fair game, or make things more challenging by playing where you can only use the letters of your color.

This is a good way to teach your child some fairly advanced reading skills, like morphology: if your child figures out that “fade” and “faded” are forms of the same word but “fad” is not, they’ll be well on the way to a more general understand of conjugation and declension, prefixes and suffixes, etymologies, and other important skills for advanced readers.

Spelling Bakery

Great for: The Imaginative Learner

Supplies:

Letters of the alphabet (fridge magnets, Scrabble tiles, etc)

Play Kitchen

Play Money

Spelling Menu (See Below)

Set Up:

Make the menu! Every good bakery needs a menu, so sit down with your child and see what words you could order off the list. Themed foods are fun (cake, apple, pie, etc.) but it’s most important to keep the menu at your child’s spelling level. Put the letters in a bowl or toy mixer and mix them up.

To Play:

You are a guest at your child’s bakery. Sit down and order an item. To serve it, your child should spell the word correctly on a toy plate. If they get it right, thank them and pay for your meal. If not, say playfully “Hey that’s not what I ordered!” and help them figure it out. Make sure to keep up an appetite!

This is a good game for intermediate readers because it allows you to tailor the difficulty to your child’s reading level as you play. You can start with simple words like “pie”, build up to compounds like “cupcake”, and end up with with unconventional phoneme combinations, like “flan”. Because of this, it also works well as a way to diagnose what your child still needs to work on in their reading without making a fuss about a test or an assessment.

Phonics Hopscotch

Great for: The Athletic Learner

Supplies:

Sidewalk Chalk

Pavement

Set Up:

Set up a normal hopscotch path (1, 1, 2, 1, 2, 1)

Instead of numbers, put in the phonemes your child is learning. Use the sets of 2 to include the two-lettered phonemes (th, ch, etc.)

To Play:

Play hopscotch with your child like normal, but instead of shouting out the numbers, shout out the phonetic (ah, aa, aw, as in “Have a ball”) sounds of each letter before progressing to the next one.

To mix it up and make it harder, have your child toss a rock onto one of the squares and hop around it. Have them pick it up without losing their balance.

This kind of fast-paced activity is great for active learners, but it’s also a good tool to build memory in learners of all stripes. If your child has muscle memory to associate with the memory of a phoneme, they’re going to have a much easier time recalling that phoneme in the future.

Phonics Scavenger Hunt

Great for: The Athletic Learner, The Imaginative Learner

Supplies:

Timer

Basket

Index cards or flash cards with a consonant blend on it (See Set Up)

Set Up:

Write a consonant blend on each flash card: cl, cr, dr, fl, gr, pl, sc, sl, sm, sn, sp, st, sw, br, and bl.

To Play:

The game starts when your child draws his card. He then has five minutes to find as many objects around the house that start with that phoneme as he can. He can work to try to beat his personal record, or he can compete with a friend.

This is a great game for early readers who are still learning the phonemes, but it can have a surprisingly long tail for more advanced readers. Think of it as a memory improvement tool, similar to Phonics Hopscotch: having muscle memory or spatial memory of a phoneme is going to make it easier for your child to recall that phoneme no matter their reading level.

Rhyming Match

Great for: The Thinker

Supplies:

A bag

About 10 pairs of common household rhyming objects

A table

Set Up:

Find about 10 pairs of rhyming objects (20 objects total). You should be able to find most of these objects around the house, and especially in your child’s playroom. Try pairs like sock/rock, man/can, house/mouse.

Once you have your collection, put one half of the rhyme on the table and the other half in the bag.

To Play:

Sit down with your child and go over all the objects on the table. Make sure you both agree on the name. For example, “man” shouldn’t be “person” or “doll”. Next, have your child pull an object out of the bag and find the matching rhyme. On your turn, pretend to have difficulty finding the rhyme and have your child help you.

Try being silly by using made up words to perk your child’s interest. You can also have a competition by seeing who can come up with the most rhyming pairs in a minute.

Like the above two games, this can have a great effect on phoneme retention. Teaching your child to find rhyming pairs will improve their ability to recall the common phoneme of the rhyming pair and probably . It’ll also teach them to have fun with the language, which will be a huge boon for future teaching. For a more advanced reader, think about finding rhyming pairs that have different numbers of syllables: socks/toybox,

Shopping for Phonics

Great for: The Imaginative Learner

Supplies:

A play grocery store

The Letters of the Alphabet (written on a note card or stock paper is great)

Set Up:

This game requires very little set up. Just be ready to play grocery shopping with your child.

Play:

You and junior are going grocery shopping! You were in a hurry, so you only wrote down the first letter of the item you need. “Oh no junior! This is all I have for a grocery list! I have the letter B! What sound does that make? That’s right! What do we need that starts with a letter B? A butterfly! That’s right! Can we find a butterfly?” This game should be entirely imaginative where he helps you find objects that start with the right letter as he practices his sounds.

This is a great exercise for small groups—kids will rush to find words starting with the letter they’re given, and the competition to come up with them will push aside any thought that this is “boring”. (Although you don’t want it to get too frenzied.) Keep it in mind if you’re teaching in a homeschooling group (which we’ve written about before) or a classroom setting.

Phonetics Go-Fish

Great for: The Imaginative Learner, The Thinker

Supplies:

Two matching sets of phonics flash cards [Link to Phonics Flash Cards]

Set Up:

Shuffle and deal out 7 flash cards to each player.

Play:

Play this game just like the classic go-fish, but have the children say the phonemes as they play. It’s a simple phonics game for kids to practice saying and memorizing the phonemes. You can also use the flashcards to play Match instead.

When you have to “go fish”, think about pulling out the wrong phoneme a few times and having your child correct you. This will help them try on independence as a reader and give them practice at finding and solving mistakes.

Pen Pals

Great for: The Thinker, The Imaginative Learner

Supplies:

Paper

Envelope

Pen

Stamp

Set Up:

Have the supplies and time to help your child write a letter

Play:

Writing letters is a great way to encourage your child to practice his writing. The letter doesn’t have to be long, and it can go to any friend or family member, but grandparents are always a great pick!

This is a good game for advanced readers and an excellent way to introduce them to language in its more complex forms. Having to think in terms of sentences instead of words is an important hurdle to cross for any emerging reader, and if your kids can do it creatively, that will be a good sign in their journey towards a healthy, fulfilling relationship with language.

It’s not always easy to get your child to sit down for a workbook, but games are often a more effective way of teaching anyway! The idea is to associate the sounds with a memory to make recall easier. The more your child ingrains these sounds and spellings, the easier it will be to read and spell effectively. Most importantly (in danger of sounding cliché) have fun! Learning is a marathon, not a sprint, so every practice counts.

Subscribe to the YesPhonics blog and YouTube channel for more classroom advice—and try our Mnemonic Phonic Technique for free to teach the 72 sounds of English.

photo credit: ep_jhu <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/9192698634″>Sheep Meadow – Central Park</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>(license)</a>

Posted on

Two Languages Too Tough?

Two languages too tough

Two Languages Too Tough?

Do you remember high school math class? Do you remember how difficult it was to learn sine, cosine, andTwo languages too tough tangent? Now imagine you don’t speak the language you’re being taught in. Imagine perhaps, you’re on the other side of the spectrum, where you understand the language, but the teacher instructing you isn’t bilingual, but his goal is to still instruct every student in the class, whether he or she speak the native language or not.

Imagine being this teacher who is under-prepared to teach to kids he/she cannot communicate with. This clearly isn’t a productive or an efficient learning environment, but it is the exact situation millions of students in California alone (according to the California Department of Finance) must face every class. Instructing students of two different languages in one class isn’t productive, efficient, or good for your child. In this article, we’ll tell you how lost our educators and officials are when it comes to addressing the issue, and how you can help your child learn the material he or she needs to know.

The Problem

Finding information about this type of education scenario is very hard to come by. Even page two of Google doesn’t have answers. In fact, it seems like an issue that even though it affects millions of children and educators all around the country, there appear to be no recent statistics or studies on just how these students, both immigrants and natives, are affected. Most studies are well over a decade old, and this problem certainly isn’t slowing.

When researching how teachers are advised to instruct and aid immigrant students, the best and most Two languages too toughrepeated advice is simply make sure the teacher is able to pronounce the students’ names, and make sure they know how to ask basic questions, like where is the bathroom. Educators simply don’t have the resources to teach in two different languages to their students, much less the capability to push their students to their maximum potential. This is not only sad for the teachers, but also for the students who are trying their best to integrate into a foreign environment.

Unfortunately, this also  affects native speaking students as they aren’t getting the attention they need to help their potential flourish, and it’s no wonder why. Schools receive funding based on test scores, and when students who can’t understand the native language test low, the schools receive even less funding, limiting resources that could help these children integrate into Western society, and also cutting back on the resources that native children have at their own disposal. Teaching to both immigrant and native children is simply too much for educators to handle.

Unfortunately, students of two different languages  (sometimes three or four) being taught in the same classroom isn’t the only problem in our public education system. Schools are overcrowded and don’t have the funds they need to improve the environment or the education. Many schools are forced to cut back on teachers while still trying to teach the same amount or even more children, and most teachers agree they cannot effectively teach a class of over thirty students.

What You Can Do

So what can you do as a parent? You know it’s important for your youngster to get a good education so Two languages too toughnot only can they be economically successful, but they can be an informed individual in the world around them. Most schools will post a syllabus or a list of homework assignments online. Go over the course material with your student before or after your student attends the class so he or she can hear it at least twice. If you don’t remember the course material yourself, don’t worry; the internet is full of refreshers. You can Google or YouTube any material your child is studying and thousands of resources are at your fingertips.

Many students and parents have found a simple trick in learning to read, or learning a foreign language more fluently: subtitles. If you want your  child to learn English or Spanish at a faster rate, or learn to read in their own language, watching TV with the subtitles on has been a helpful resource. It teaches word association, so the child hears the word and learns to recognize the way it’s pronounced and spelled.

The Solution to Learning English Sounds for Native and Non Native English Speakers

Most likely if you’re reading this article you are homeschooling your children, or you might be thinking about homeschooling (kudos to you), however, If you have a child in school (whether native to the English language or not) they all can benefit from our Mnemonic Phonic Technique (available on The App Store or Google Play) which teaches the 45 sounds of the English language and incorporates illustrations and catchphrases for easy memory recall. This technique is one of the best options for students, especially ESL students trying to learn the ins and outs of English. It’s also free on Youtube.

two languages too toughIf you’re a public/private/or charter school teacher/educator, consider organizing a study group that is dedicated to students who don’t speak English as their native language. Simply play our Mnemonic Phonic Technique on the computer (you can access it for FREE here), or ask that your principal (or board of directors) request our Mnemonic Phonic Technique from the App Store or Google Play to download onto a tablet. Have your students listen through all seventy two sounds the first time and have them repeat the sounds the second time. If this approach is implemented as an everyday occurrence, your ESL students will sky rocket in their English abilities. You may also consider implementing an explicit phonics language arts program as well, to further your non-native speaking students’ English abilities. It’s a win-win.

Consider Other Options

To further expand your child’s knowledge, you can also look into free or cheap learning resources, such as documentaries on Netflix, DuoLingo, Crash Course on YouTube, Khan Academy or books (we don’t get paid to promote any of these organizations). YouTube is an incredibly underutilized learning resource. There are informative and instructional videos on how to do everything from learn to knit, to preparing whipping cream, to learning an instrument, to repairing a car. Many of these resources make learning interesting for your child, so give it a shot before you assume your kid will turn his nose up at it. These are also convenient because they give your child time to learn on his or her own while you spend time with your busy day.

Don’t forget it’s important to teach more than the basics. Try to involve your child in other extracurricular activities outside school  to expand his or her learning environment. Sports or martial arts, music or dance, or 4-H are all great activities that will help your child in the future. They teach selftwo languages too tough control, give them something to be proud of, and remind your child what it’s like to learn a subject he or she is interested in.

Another, and perhaps the best, option for your child is to home school, or enroll him or her in a private school. There are homeschooling groups all over the country that will help your child get the best education possible and still incorporate peer learning. Either of these options insures your child gets the best education you can provide. Also, just as there may be people looking to involve their kids in things outside of the public school, I highly recommend involving your homeschooled children in sports programs available within the public school sphere. Sports build character and they introduce children to competition in an exciting and safe manner. They’ll also get the opportunity to interact with peers in their age range on a frequent basis.

Above all, it’s vital you don’t let your child’s schooling interfere with his or her education.

photo credit: IMG_4857 via photopin (license)

photo credit: TESOL New York 2008 via photopin (license)

photo credit: my kids know how to cook everything* via photopin (license)

photo credit: IMG_2484 via photopin (license)

photo credit: building lever via photopin (license)