Phonemic Awareness - We play with letters!

In my previous post I told you we were studying phonics using both the Montessori and Jolly Phonics methods, but what I didn't tell you is how we literally play with letters to create and reinforce the kids' phonemic awareness. To be honest, I'm pretty satisfied with the results and that's why I'd like to share the games we've been playing in class  with you today.

First of all, make sure you have the letters of the alphabet, preferably matched with pictures, hanging on the classroom wall for the whole time you're teaching this topic. You will also need a deck of alphabet flashcards.

For the first game, divide your class into teams and have all the kids sit in front of the letters on the wall. Show a flashcard to the first team, and say the name of the picture: the children in team 1then have to stand up and go over to the wall to touch the letter that word starts with. If they're right, you can hand them the card, which could also count as  a point. Repeat the same procedure with all your teams and stop the game when you notice either a certain over excitement or tiredness. The winning team is the one  with the most cards at the end.

The second game requires the use of the Jolly Phonics chants:
Divide your class into groups and give each group a whole deck of alphabet flashcards.
Then play the chants one by one. The groups must find the letter mentioned in  each chant. So, for example, when they hear "The snake is in the grass, the snake is in the grass…Ssss, Ssss, the snake is in the grass", they have to find and show you the letter S.

Game number three is the circle game I told you about in this  previous post about toys.
Have your kids sit in a circle and give each of them a card to hold. When you say a letter (or the sound of the letter), the children who have the card with the picture whose name starts with that letter must swap places.

We also played the "Alphabet Lotto" several times. It's a board game which can be played in 4 different ways: matching picture to picture, letter to picture, picture to letter, or letter to letter.

Another good game you can use in this phase is "Pass The Word", where you have word cards (with pictures) and letter cards shaped like pieces of a puzzle. The kids take a word card and must find all the letter cards they need to 'write' the word. This game is especially useful because they have to recognize lower case letters…not quite yet an easy task for a 5 year old so they have to put a lot of effort into it.

To stick a little bit more closely to the Montessori's principles I would also suggest a couple of manipulative activities: the first one requires the use of colorful pipe cleaners and the second one the use of plasticine. In both activities, the kids could use these materials to physically make the letters.

The last game is the most popular and the easiest to think of, because is the old classic 'Tell me a word that starts with the letter…' game, however before playing it I'd suggest preparing your students by doing all the previous games so that your kids will be ready to play this one and to enjoy putting the vast knowledge and phonemic awareness they've previously acquired into practice.

And for those of you who have the chance to use a smart board, at  http://www.teachyourmonstertoread.com you'll find a really entertaining video game focused on phonics.

As always… Have fun!

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Lucy dedicates a lot of time and love to thinking about and writing the posts she shares with all of you. Because she believes that a better teaching is the key for a better future. If you find any help, value or joy in this blog, please consider becoming a supporting reader. A donation, in any amount, will be gratefully accepted.