Phonics activities

 Phonics activities to do at home.

It can sometimes be difficult for parents to think of ideas to support their child in phonics. Below are some games that you can play at home. Our teachers have lots of other ideas, so if you need any inspiration, just ask them.

1.Listening to sequences of sounds

This activity helps to develop the memory and attentional abilities for thinking about sequences of sounds and the language for discussing them.

Materials needed

Objects that make interesting, distinctive sounds. Some examples follow:

banging on wall/table/lap
blowing
blowing a whistle
blowing nose
clapping
clicking with tongue
closing purse
coloring hard on paper
coughing
crumpling paper
cutting with a knife
cutting with scissors
dropping (various things)
drumming with fingers
eating an apple
folding paper
hammering
hopping
noisy chewing

Activity


In this game, the children are challenged first to identify single sounds and then to identify each one of a sequence of sounds. Both will be very important in the language games to come. The children are to cover their eyes with their hands while you make a familiar noise such as closing the door, sneezing, or playing a key on the piano. By listening carefully and without peeking, the children are to try to identify the noise.
Once the children have caught on to the game, make two noises, one after the other. Without peeking, the children are to guess the two sounds in sequence saying, "There were two sounds. First we heard a ____, and then we heard a ____."
After the children have become quite good with pairs of noises, produce a series of more than two for them to identify and report in sequence. Again, complete sentences should be encouraged

Variations

  • With the children's eyes closed, make a series of sounds. Then repeat the sequence, but takeaway one of the sounds. The children must identify the sound that has been omitted from the second sequence.
  • Invite the children to make sounds for you to guess.
  • These games also offer good opportunities to review, exercise, and evaluate children's use of ordinal terms, such as first, second, third, middle, last.

2. Nonsense

This activity helps children to develop their ability to identify differences between what they expect to hear and what they actually hear.

Materials needed

Book of familiar stories or poems

Activity

Invite the children to sit down and close their eyes so that they can concentrate on what they will hear. Then read aloud a familiar story or poem to the children but, once in a while, by changing its words or wording, change its sense to nonsense. The children's challenge is to detect such changes whenever they occur. When they do, encourage them to explain what was wrong.

As shown in the following list, you can change any text in more or less subtle ways at a number of different levels. . Following are some examples of the "nonsense" that can be created within familiar poems and rhymes:

Song a sing of sixpence

Reverse words

Baa baa purple sheep

Substitute words

Twinkle, twinkle little car

Substitute words

Humpty Dumpty wall on a sat

Swap word order

Jack fell down and crown his broke

Swap word order

One, two shuckle my boo

Swap word parts

I'm a tittle leapot

Swap word parts

The eensy weensy spider went up the spouter wat.

Swap word parts

One, two, buckle my shoe
Five, six, pick up sticks

Switch order of events

Little Miss Muffet, eating a tuffet
Sat on her curds and whey

Switch order of events

Goldilocks went inside and knocked on the door.

Switch order of events

The first little piggy built himself a house of bricks.

Switch order of events

3. Clapping names

This activity helps children to be introduced to the nature of syllables by leading them to clap and count the syllables in their own names.

Activity

When you first introduce this activity, model it by using several names of different lengths. Pronounce the first name of one of the children in the  syllable by syllable while clapping it out before inviting the children to say and clap the name along with you. After each name has been clapped, ask "How many syllables did you hear?"

Once children have caught on, ask each child to clap and count the syllables in his or her own name. Don't forget last names, too! It is easy to continue clapping other words and to count the syllables in each. If a name has many syllables, you may need to let children count the syllables as they are clapping.

Variations

  • Ask the children to clap and count the syllables of their first and last names together.
  • After determining the number of syllables in a name, ask the children to hold two fingers horizontally under their chins, so they can feel the chin drop for each syllable. To maximise this effect, encourage the children to elongate or stretch each syllable.
  • As follows, this activity can be done to a rhythmic chant, such as "Bippity, Bippity Bumble Bee":

    Bippity, bippity bumble bee, Tell me what your name should be.

4. Finding things: Initial sounds

This activity helps to extend awareness of initial sounds by asking them to compare, contrast, and eventually identify the initial sounds of a variety of words.

Materials needed

Picture cards

Activity

Spread a few pictures out in the middle of the circle. Then ask the children to find those pictures whose names start with the initial sound on which they have just been working. As each picture is found, the child is to say its name and initial sound as before (e.g., f-f-f-f-ish, /f-f-f-f/, fish).

Variations

  • As the children become more comfortable with the game, spread out pictures from two different sets, asking the children to identify the name and initial phoneme of each picture and to sort them into two piles accordingly.
  • Pass pictures out to the children; each must identify the initial phoneme of her or his picture and put it in the corresponding pile. This game works well with small groups.
  • Sound-traition: Pass pictures of objects or animals to the children, naming each picture and placing it face down on the table or carpet. Children take turns flipping pairs of pictures right side up and deciding if the initial sounds of the pictures' names are the same. If the initial sounds match, the child selects another pair; otherwise, another child takes a turn. This game works well with small groups.

5. Word pairs I: Take a sound away

This activity helps the children to separate the sounds of words from their meanings.

Activity

By showing the children that if the initial phoneme of a word is removed a totally different word may result, this activity further helps children to separate the sounds of words from their meanings. With the children seated in a circle, explain that sometimes when you take a sound away from a word, you end up with a totally different word.

To give the children an example, say "f-f-f-ear," elongating the initial consonant, and have the children repeat. Then say "ear," and have the children repeat. Ask the children if they can determine which sound has been taken away and repeat the words for them (i.e., f-f-f-f-ear – ear – f-f-f-f-ear – ear).

In this way, the children are challenged to attend to the initial phonemes of words even as they come to realise that the presence or absence of the initial phoneme results in two different words. Across days, gradually work up from the easier initial consonants to harder ones. Sample word lists are provided at the end of the chapter.

Note: Most children can identify the "hidden word" but have a great deal of difficulty in identifying what is taken away. Children may also be inclined to produce rhyming words rather than to focus on initial sounds. With this in mind, take care not to flip back and forth between the activities involving rhyming and initial sounds.

Variations

  • To help the children notice that the initial sound makes a big difference in the words' meanings, ask them to use each word in a sentence.
  • Call the children to line up by naming their first names without the initial sound (e.g., [J]-onathon). The children have to figure out whose name has been called and what sound is missing.

    6. Word pairs II: Add a sound

    This activity helps to introduce children to the challenge of creating words from their separate sounds.

    Activity

    Seat the children in a circle, and begin by explaining that sometimes a new word can be made by adding a sound to a word. As an example, say "ox," and have the children repeat it. Then ask what will happen if they add a new sound to the beginning of the word such as f-f-f-f-f: "f-f-f-f-f…ox, f-f-f-f…ox, f-f-f-f-ox." The children say, "fox!" You should then explain, "We put a new sound on the beginning, and we have a new word!"

    Until the children catch on, you should provide solid guidance, asking the children to say the word parts with you in unison (e.g., "ice…m–,–,–,…ice…m-m-m-ice…mice"). Again, it is appropriate to work up gradually, across days, from the easier initial consonants to harder ones and, only after the latter are reasonably well established, to consonant blends (e.g., mile-smile).

    Variations

    • Invite the children to use each word of a pair in a sentence to emphasise the difference in their meanings.

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