Last Updated on October 11, 2023 by Editorial Team
Phonics is the process of learning how to read. When in a family environment, children speak a language that they learn from hearing. But, as soon as they move to the school, their source of information is mostly written text (books, journals, etc.) Hence, at the preschool stage, they should prepare for higher levels by mastering reading skills.
Amongst various resources, gamified activities grab the toddler’s attention easily. These help teachers engage little learners in understanding phonics minus the stress. Let’s explore a few fun phonics activities for the kindergarten level in this post.
Introducing phonics in preschool and kindergarten
Phonics is a vast topic that entails learning several skills needed to become a fluent reader. At this learning stage, the focus is on learning how to decode spellings, understand the letter-sounds association, and blend various sounds. A few students may face speech delays; it is where phonics activities step in and offer alternative learning solutions. Thus, this skill is important at the kindergarten level. At the preschool level, you can expect the following topics in the curriculum:
- Learn the starting and ending sounds of a word
- Learn the blending of sounds to make a word
- Identify similar-sounding words (word families)
- Learn to spell and pronounce words
Moving to higher levels, the students use phonics to build vocabulary and develop a recognizable comfort with the reading process.
Let’s take a look at phonics activities that can help preschoolers develop comfort with written text and develop their vocabulary by decoding and blending sounds.
Fun phonics activities for preschoolers & kindergarteners
1. Swat the letter
Available easily online, parents or teachers can buy an alphabet chipset with a flyswatter. In the swat the letter activity, the letter chips are spread in front of the kid. The game starts with the teacher sounding out a word, saying ‘mat’. The kid will swat the ‘M’-containing chip.
Once the comfort is achieved, the teachers can increase the frequency of cue words, and accordingly, the kid keeps on swatting the letters that form the starting sound of those words. It is a fun activity that helps kids concentrate on word sounds and improve the letter-sound association eventually.
2. Letter race
Add a little excitement and a lot of fun to teaching phonics with this letter race activity. Spread a bunch of Alphabet-shaped blocks on a table. Write three to four words on the board with different initial sounds. Kids search for the starting letter from the bunch, pick those up, and run to place it on the other table kept in the opposite direction. You can announce a reward for the fastest alphabet picker or the one who picks the highest number of correct initial letters. This activity offers suitable reinforcement of the letter-sound association concept.
3. Circle the letter
Make a chart of the alphabet and give the child a marker to circle the letter. Have a set of picture placards with you. Show the placard of the picture to the children and ask them to circle the starting letter of the object displayed in the picture.
When the kids circle a letter multiple times in response to the pictures shown, they can grasp the idea of word families. Moving forth, you can have phonemes like ‘ch’, ‘th’, ‘sh’, etc., too, on the chart. It helps me become quite fluent with letter sounds.
4. Letter bag
Fill a small pouch of cloth with letters. Ask the child to take out one letter and tell the words starting with that letter. It can be used as a competitive activity where you note down the number of words told by children. The one who tells the most number of words can be declared the winner. Letter bag activity allows kids to explore their learning and offers a good assessment procedure for checking the mastery level in phonics.
5. Hop on the letter
Children love to remain active and this energy can be channeled positive way with the hop on the letter activity. The teachers can make letter-themed hopscotch on the floor. They can ask the child to hop on the letter that corresponds with the initial sound of the word they speak out as a cue.
You can add the letter identification element to the activity by writing the alphabet on the board. The kid can read and speak out the letter first, hop on the corresponding cell, and then tell the words that start with that letter.
6. Say a pair of words
It is a classroom activity that requires only children and you. As a game jockey, you can tell in advance that the child gets to stand up when he speaks out the word with the same starting letter or sound. The kid will have to remain seated if the words spoken don’t start with the same sound. Thus, the kids can learn the beginning sound or word family the fun way while competing for the maximum number of stand-ups.
7. Erase and replace sounds
The activity of erasing and replacing sounds employs reading manipulatives like Word Chips and placement bars. Start with a simple word like ‘at’ and place A and T on the chip holder bar. Ask the child to voice it out. Now, remove T and replace it with N.
The child gets to know the difference between ‘n’ and ‘t’ sounds. You can make it more fun by replacing ‘a’ with ‘o’, or by adding other alphabets like ‘c’, ‘f’, ‘r’, etc. before at. This is how the child can practice sounds and various phonemes.
Making the best out of phonics activities for little learners
Often parents complain that children get carried away by the gamification element of activities, which makes phonic learning difficult instead of easy. Hence, it is necessary to introduce and intervene in the activities in such a way that the learning atmosphere is not diluted. Research on Letterland, a reading program, also reveals that activities can become an effective intervention support if the following precautionary measures are taken:
- Make a list of teaching aids needed and ensure that the teachers have them in plenty. The scarcity causes commotion and the waste of time arranging sets for kids.
- Teachers are to be trained amply to carry out activities. Since they know the course of the activity, they can stay prepared for expected contingencies.
- Give an interesting introduction such as in story-telling mode to incite curiosity about the ensuing activity.
- Be clear on the outcomes so that the kids take it as a learning method and not merely a fun activity.
Phonics activities are essential for language development in preschoolers. The activities serve as a teaching tool to help children with different grasping abilities acquire basic language skills. With the help of such activities, the environment in the classroom can be made more participative.
A few activities help keep the child engaged in learning even while on the move. Hence, learn how to intervene and participate and make the language development process stress-free for little toddlers of kindergarten level.
- Niklas, F., Cohrssen, C., & Tayler, C. (2016). The Sooner, the Better. SAGE Open. https://doi.org/10.1177/2158244016672715
- Derby, Katelyn, “The Effectiveness of Visual Phonics to Promote Phonological Awareness in Preschool Children with and Without Speech Sound Delays” (2020). Dissertations, Theses, and Projects. 326. https://red.mnstate.edu/thesis/326
- Limbong, J. E. (n.d.). Kindergarten Students Acquire Basic English Literacy Through Letterland: A Case Study. Acuity : Journal of English Language Pedagogy, Literature and Culture, 3(2), 1. https://doi.org/10.35974/acuity.v3i2.651
I am Pratiksha Bhatt, Bachelor of Life Science, and Masters in Management Studies. I have done certification courses in early education counseling. I am a writer, a mother of a child with spelling difficulties which drove me to alternative resources of education like manipulatives and participatory activities. My areas of expertise are learning difficulties, alternative learning methods, and activity-based learning.