What is it about a certain word that just makes you feel some type of way? For example, phonics just screams boring. Honestly? I blame Hooked on Phonics. It's probably why the very term gives me a total outdated 80s vibe. Ironically, phonics are one of my favorite things to teach. I've always found words to be fun, like solving a puzzle. I'm all for gamifying anything in the classroom. Here's a mash-up of games and activities that you can implement today in your classroom.
#1: Lucky Catch
This is really just a fancy way to say fishing, but during our homeschool season of life my kids loved fishing for letters and words. This should definitely be prepped ahead of time and stored over and over
#2: Hulk Stamp + Smash
Get Play-Doh or your dough of choice. Place a word card or spell the word using a toothpick to trace the word into the dough, smash it with your fist as you read it in the dough. Then yell “Hulk smash!”
Knockout is a head-to-head team game that I actually started in my classroom inspired by the old-school basketball version of the same name. You can read more about the rules of the game here, but essentially both teams match each other slide for slide and wrong answers means you lose a player. The teams play until they are left with one team standing.
Knockout is especially great for making not-so-fun topics otherwise enjoyable. Like phonics. Instead of drills and word sorts (helpful but not always fun), a quick game of Knockout can really put a pep in your students' phonics step.
You can download a free phonics Knockout game by filling out the form below:
#4 Anything involving a fly swatter
You know the games I'm talking about: Write a collection of words on the whiteboard and have students face off. Read the words aloud and the first student to swat the correct one on the board earns a point for his or her team. Easy, low-prep and bonus: you can use this for math topics too!
#5 Pizza Man
This is a more politically correct form of the ever-loved childhood classic, Hangman. I created it out of desperation one day in my first few days of teaching ever and realized 2 letters into Hangman that I was about to draw a man hanging on a noose in front a of a class full of 6 year olds. I quickly changed him into a pizza man and, if you'll excuse my rough sketch below, you can see what I mean. The same rules apply, it's just a more kid/human-friendly name.
#6 Cup words
Honestly, this one came as a surprise. It was on the 100th day of school several years ago and we had just gotten done cleaning up our activities. The “build a tower with 100 cups” involved 100 red plastic Solo cups and as I tossed them in a trash bag to stack later, a student asked what they were going to be used for. And this is how cup words were formed.
Using a permanent black marker, write letters, blends, digraphs, etc. on the cups. Students can line up or stack cups to build words on their list or words with similar features.
What's your favorite way to make phonics fun for your students? I know I've only nicked the tip of the word work iceberg here, so hit me with your favorites!
Remember to download the Knockout CVC game today, you won't regret it!