Images and words: Sara Conway
Top phonics tip:
- These games involve using letter sounds. It’s helpful if you know the level your child’s at. You can ask their teacher. Or, if they’re just starting to learn phonics, this is a useful guide.
- When you know what they’re learning, concentrate on that group of letter sounds. Eg. The first letter sounds your child learns in phonics are s, a, t, p, i and n. Then they learn m, d, g, o, c, k and ck.
- It’s also useful to know what the sounds sound like. It’s quite different to how we learned letters. This really useful CBeebies Alphablocks video helps us out all the time.
- But don’t worry too much. Just make phonics friendly and help your kids to enjoy it…
1) Greedy monster game: a fun way to show one letter sound in action
You’ll need: a tissue box, coloured card or paper, scissors and a pen
- First your kids turn the tissue box into a greedy monster – the opening is his big mouth. They add googly eyes, card teeth and a paper tongue.
- Then they draw and snip 5 cake shapes from another piece. (Or they can make them 3D by scrunching tissue paper into cupcake cases)
- Choose a letter sound to glue on the alien.
- Now they suggest 4 words that have the letter sound in – it could be at the start, middle or end of the word.
- And one word that doesn’t!
- They write the words on the cakes and feed them to the alien. BURP! But he won’t eat the word that doesn’t have his letter sound in.
Tip: Play this game again with a new letter sound! Just peel off the words and write new ones.
2) 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Phonics! They whoosh a rocket to planets and collect letter sounds.
You’ll need: a loo roll, coloured paper, tape, paper plates
- First they craft the rocket by painting the loo roll. Stick a triangle of paper at one end. Stick fins to the other.
- Now, they write letter sounds on paper plates and lay them around the room to make planets. (They can paint them planet colours, too).
- Now they fly their rocket from plate to plate and try these ideas…
- Land on each planet and make the letter sound.
- Land on each planet and write the letter sounds – collect a group and blend them together. They might make a real or a nonesense word. (eg, if they fly to p-o-p they blend them to make pop. If they fly to p-i-m-o-g they blend them to make pimog (which might be the name of a new planet).
- Land on each planet and think of a word with that letter sound in. And then do an action. (eg. They could land on ‘s’ and sssss like a snake)
3) Magnetic letters: invest in a set of colourful fridge magnet letters so they can build words while you potter.
You call out words for them to try. Or, see if they can freestyle a word and read it for you.
4) Word building: help your child learn phonics with building bricks
You’ll need: Paper and glue (or sticky labels), pen, building bricks
- Cut and stick paper (or sticky labels) to the bricks. Then write a letter on each brick.
- Now challenge your child to use the bricks to build 3 letter words.
Depending on how confident they feel, they could…
- copy and sound out a word you’ve written.
- find the missing sound in a word (e.g., leave out the a in cat).
- sound out and build the whole world.
5) Matching cards: make their own phonics game
You’ll need: card, scissors, crayons
- Snip a piece of card into squares – about 20.
- Now they write letters on half of the cards (eg s, a, t, p, i, n, m, d, o, g, c, k- see the tips above).
- Then, they draw things that start with those letters on the other cards (eg king, dog, cat).
Now try these games…
- MATCH IT! They simply find the matching letters and pictures
- REMEMBER IT! Turn over all the cards so they can play memory. They turn over two cards at a time and try to find a letter sound and picture pair.
- SNAP! Split the cards in two and take it in turns to turn them over. If they see a matching letter sound and picture they shout snap!
Top tip: Try to help them choose words that start with the letter sound, not words where that letter sounds different. Eg. O as in orange not owl. A as in apple, not ace.