Phonics instruction can be quite tedious, as we have established in part one. However, it doesn’t have to be! Parents can employ the use of different games and challenges to help children build their phonics knowledge at home. Beginning with basic sounds, then corresponding letters, vowel patterns, and so on, children are able to garner more knowledge of phonics and language without the droning, repetitive instruction that we usually associate with phonics lessons in the classroom. See more strategies and activities below!
Rhymes in the car
To help children with rhyming patterns inconspicuously, parents can challenge them to a “rhyme off” to fill the time during a long car ride.
- Allow children to choose a word; sight words are great for beginning the rhyme off as well!
- Going back and forth, each participant must come up with a new word that rhymes with the original word.
- If the original word is chair, participants will continue with hair, fair, pair, etc.
- Since you are just working with sounds, allow for any and all vowel patterns that rhyme with the original word, like dare, care, bear, etc.
- Then later on, to extend the activity, parents can show how some of the rhyming words followed a different vowel pattern of spelling.
Guess the digraph
Simply put, a digraph is a combination of two letters (di-) that make one sound. Examples are vast, but some include: ch, sh, wh, ay, th, ph, etc.
- Parents will simply say a word that includes a digraph, such as phone.
- The child will then say the letters that make up that digraph and isolate the sound; “phone is ph; ph says fff—.”
- To extend the activity, challenge your child to come up with another word that includes the same digraph, such as “phony.”
- Want even more of a challenge? Write out a word that includes a digraph and ask your child to identify the two letters that create that one sound.
- For instance, if parents write down “chocolate,” the child would identify ch as the digraph.
- Parents should explain that, on their own, the letter C makes its own sound; same thing with the letter H. However, in combination, the two letters create a new sound.
The new name game
This is another phonics challenge that is great for long car rides.
- Essentially, participants follow the letters of the alphabet coming up with real people’s names for each letter.
- It can look like this: Alex, Brennan, Creighton, David, Ethan, Felicity, Gail, etc.
- If you want to add even more of a challenge, parents can say that names have to alternate genders, or perhaps you have to try the entire alphabet using names that are typically considered “girl names.” Amy, Brooke, Courtney, Dana, etc.
You can also modify the game for children who have not quite mastered the alphabet by simplifying the rules. Instead of going through the alphabet, choose one letter and take turns coming up with names that start with that letter.