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5 Phonics Word Work Ideas

I’m a big believer in getting kids engaged to keep them learning! Phonics/word work activities can become a little dull for readers as they’re simply repeating the same thing over and over again. One way to keep word work exciting is to use a mix of tools and activities. I wanted to share 5 different word work activities that you can use with any variety of phonics focused skills. After each activity, I included a video to show you the activity, in case you’re a visual learner!

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1. Readers Repeat! For this activity you will state a simple word that you expect readers to be capable of writing. You can also show a picture of the image, if you have one. (This is especially helpful for ELL or visual learners.) Then you will have readers repeat the word, clap out the sounds and then write/make the word. I used a magnet strip and magnetic letters, but this can easily be done on a whiteboard or within a journal, if you don’t have magnetic letters.
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2. Letter Boxes- Zoom! You will use letter boxes with the appropriate amount of letters for the words you are doing with your readers. Readers will be making words with different phonics patterns that match up to words in their text of the day. You can state the word and then have readers make the word within the letter boxes. Next step is to use a car to zoom through the word- while moving the car along the word, readers will state each sound and then read the entire word.

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3. Switch It Up! You will begin with one simple word. That word will then have letters added to it or taken away until you get back to the original word. These words should be ones that your readers can write and decode successfully to keep the activity going, rather than making it too challenging. Each time a new word is stated, readers will write it down and then share what is different from the previous word. When all done with not more than 10 words, readers can go through and read the entire list of words written. If done on a whiteboard, you can have readers underline the letter that changes each time.

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4. Search and Find! Tell readers a word that you want them to write down. Do 2-3 words, all which come directly from their text, following a specific phonics pattern. Then have readers use a different color marker to identify the phonics pattern, in this example, blends. Next, have readers find these words in their texts. They can use some sort of fun eraser, for example, to point out the words in the text.
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5. Sticky Note Reading! Prior to the group coming to the table, write a few words from the text on a sticky note. Place that sticky note on the front of the text. Have each reader silently read the words on their sticky note. While each reader is practicing their words, lean in to each reader individually, asking them to whisper read their words. Readers then need to find their words within their text. They can mark which page they found each word, on their sticky note. When everyone has finished, have each reader share one word with the group from their sticky note, that they can confidently read.

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I wanted to throw in a little something about phonemic awareness too, since they go hand in hand when readers are learning how to read. Phonemic awareness can become even more repetitive than phonics word work. One thing you can do to keep it excited is to use a variety of tools when readers are repeating the sounds to make a word or when breaking down a word into sounds. Simply having a different manipulative for each day/week keeps readers engaged!
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Happy Reading!
Picture of Aylin Claahsen

Aylin Claahsen

Providing resources and support to engage all readers.

3 Responses

  1. In Word Work Idea number 4, for the Search and Find activity, What is the title of the book (featuring real-life photos of the Rooster and Hen) you used in your video to model the activity? Is that a Scholastic Reader or one of your Readers on your TpT?

    1. Hi Crys,
      That is an actual book- I have to look around for it to find the title! I believe it is from Scholastic though.
      Thanks for asking!

  2. Thank you, Aylin for your reply! Ah, I see, it’s a Scholastic book. Ok, well, thank you so much for researching it and I shall await your response for the title. Thanks again! Sure thing, you’re welcome for asking. It’s seems to be a cute book that I know I’d enjoy if I were still a child! 🙂 I’ll be tutoring ESL students this Fall/Winter, as well as tutoring in Reading. I thought this would be a great addition to my book selections. Until next time, have an awesome day! 🙂

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Hi, I'm Aylin!

I’m so happy you’re here! I’m a certified reading specialist who loves talking all things literacy. I have a huge passion for providing resources and support to engage all readers!


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