I’m so excited to share 5 reasons to use these end of the year activities with you! As an elementary school teacher, you can never have too many word work activities! But before we get click-crazy, we want to be sure of a few things. We have to ask ourselves some questions: Is the activity simple? Is the activity effective? Can the activity be done with minimal assistance? By the end of the school year, all of these questions should come naturally to us as reading teachers. These End of the Year Phonics Word Mats answer “yes” to all of those above questions. Read on for 5 reasons to use these end of the year activities as part of your phonics lessons.
Reason #1: review phonics patterns while decoding and encoding
Word mats are one of the best ways to practice decoding with your students. This is because these word mats require the students to both blend and segment in print. The last two words are key here, because although blending and segmenting (done orally known as phonological awareness) are two huge predictors in future reading success, we must be sure that we are applying those skills to print when students are ready. The sooner we can do this, the better the reading outcome.
These end of the year activities do just that. The mats allow students to do blending and segmenting skills and then apply that to the written word. This allows students to both hear and see the sounds on the page. And when we apply them to print – voila! We have decoding and encoding. So what’s the big deal about these two skills? Well, when students are connecting the sound to the symbol, this equips them to be better readers. This is actually the bridge they cross to get from phonemic awareness to phonics (actual reading!) These word mats are the perfect activity to help get your students there. And with an option to purchase the End of the Year Phonics Word Mat Bundle, your students can be decoding and encoding all year long!
Reason #2: You can easily differentiate based upon student need
There is an art to teaching, isn’t there? We can’t just operate like robots, delivering one type of lesson plan to students hoping that it sticks with most of them. We know that we’re given students with all sorts of needs – and teaching and reaching each student is an art. These end of the year activities will help you perfect and sharpen that art. That’s because these mats focus on the following phonics patterns: CVC words, digraphs, beginning blends, ending blends, CVCe words, r-controlled vowels, and vowel teams. This means that no matter where your students fall on the phonics continuum, these mats have you (and your students) covered.
Differentiation doesn’t need to be complicated, but it can feel that way sometimes. There are moments where we find ourselves reinventing the wheel and pulling all sorts of activities off of the shelf, hoping that something will come in handy. With these phonics mats, it’s easy to find the skill you’re looking for and bring it to your small group table with confidence.
Reason #3: Easy to prep and use over and over again
Let’s chat a bit about how phonics instruction should be delivered. When we give a phonics lesson, we need to be sure that we are providing instruction that is explicit and straight-forward. The lessons shouldn’t be complicated or even fancy (pretty doesn’t always mean practical!) The less frills, the better. This is because studies show that this is how students learn phonics best – when it’s taught in a direct manner. That’s why it’s so important to have meaningful lessons. Even the simple ones can pack a big punch and give students what they need in a big way.
These phonics mats do that for you. Though each phonics skill is different, they all follow the same format. So if one of your students is working on digraphs and later that week they move onto beginning blends, though the phonics skill changes, the way they’re executed doesn’t. This provides consistency for the kids, which is key to a great phonics lesson. Why? Because this way, your students don’t need to spend time learning a new activity and a new concept. Instead, they can spend all of their brain power building words that contain the phonics skill they need to work on. And for students who need that extra support – well, that’s everything.
As always, my resources always have you (and your students!) in mind. And that means resources that are low prep so that you can spend more of your time on what matters – focusing on students and their needs. You can trust that when I say my resources are “print and go” – you really can do just that…and these end of the year phonics review activities are no exception!
Reason #4: Great for literacy centers and small groups
These end of the year mats are simply perfect for kindergarten and first grade classrooms (although they could be used at any grade level depending on student need). One of the best ways that this resource can be used is within small groups or as a reading intervention. Simply gather a group of students who need to focus on the same phonics pattern and get started!
If using it in small groups or as a reading intervention, first place the stack of word cards face down on the table. Then, give each student a word mat and stack of letter cards so that they can build their words (magnet letters work just as great). As you flip each card over, students will encode the word by breaking apart each individual sound. They will simply grab their letters to build the word on the line. Struggling students may find this difficult, but that’s exactly what this small group time is for – explicit teaching and meeting the students where they are, guiding them on the path to reading.
Another way this resource can be used is as a literacy center. In this way, students will practice both encoding and decoding. Students will place the image cards face down on the table with their word mats and letters at the ready. As they draw each card, they say the image out loud, build the word on their mat, and decode it by reading it when they’re finished. Since this activity is the same across all phonics skills, your students will be able to do this activity independently and successfully.
Reason #5: Engaging for students
Let me paint a little picture for you. You’ve picked out the right resource. Maybe you spent lots of time searching for it or maybe you got lucky and found it right away. You’re confident that students will love it and it will be effective. You might even find yourself delivering it perfectly! When the time comes, you find that your students aren’t engaged. They’re distracted and maybe even uninterested. Sound familiar? When we’re searching for or even purchasing a resource, we must be sure it’s engaging for our students – they need to buy into the idea that the activity is fun for them. Without engagement, students won’t learn. I’m going to say it one more time because it bears repeating: engagement equals learning.
These End of the Year phonics Word Mats are just that – engaging. When students are having fun learning a new concept, they’re much more likely to retain it. They associate positive feelings with learning the new skill. It’s natural, isn’t it? And it’s the same for so many people. When we are in a good mood and having fun, we’re more likely to be willing to learn something new. These mats are engaging, fun, and as your students decode and encode, they’ll also gain confidence as they build each individual word.
More End of the Year Activities
We all know and understand the stress (and fun!) that the end of the school year brings. You find yourself packing up your classroom and wrapping up those last minute assessments. These phonics mats are sure to be definitely something you’ll want to add to your end of the year activities.
Want to use these all year long?
Check out my seasonal phonics word mats bundle which you can easily switch out each season. You can use them as a review, or even throughout the year for teaching and introducing a new phonics skill.
Want more end of the year activities?
If you’re interested in more ways to make the end of your school year easy and breezy, check out my blog post on End of the Year Activities!