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Making Phonics Fun To Publications / Articles - Making Phonics Fun

Posted 1/23/15
Jan May

Making Phonics Fun

By Jan May

Historically, kindergarten was a “children’s garden,” a place to learn basic skills through play. As home educators, we have the distinct advantage of creating that “children’s garden” with a plethora of sensory activities that enrich the preschool child and enable him to be successful in the academics he faces ahead.

According to Traci Geiser, Early Childhood Education Specialist, “Research indicates that a child’s success as a reader is largely dependent upon his ability to identify and manipulate sounds before he begins to read.”1 Developing phonemic awareness: listening to and playing around with sounds in language, will help guarantee your preschool child’s

success in reading.

By preparing simple interactive opportunities, phonics can be the most enjoyable part of the day. Each opportunity will give your child not only training in language but also in focus, small and large motor skills, and growing in the ability to sit still.

Below is a funtastic list that will help your child build the phonetic bridge between sounds and letters.

·       Chalk Zoo: Children draw a chalk zoo, starting with animals that begin with the A sound, then B, etc. Have the child draw the letter in multiples around the animal, forming a cage. Have the other family members visit.

·       Pointillism Painting: Using paper with letters printed on it, children use Q-tips and washable paints to dab dots, making a large letter.

·       Alphabet Choo Choo: The child makes the chug, chug, chug sound as he traces slowly over letters with his finger. When he completes the letter, he sounds the whistle: “Toot! Toot!”

·       Make Phonics Flashcards: Cut 8.5 x 11 colored card stock in half. Write one letter of the ABC’s or phonograms on each one. Preschoolers cut and paste from a magazine pictures of objects with the correlating sound.

·       Scavenger Hunt: Write the letters of the alphabet and place them in a paper bag. Let the child draw out a letter and then walk around the room placing the card next to an object that starts with that sound. For a more advanced activity, let the child try to beat a timer.

·       Calendar Phonics: Buy or make a poster-size calendar. Designate a letter or phonetic sound to study each week. Mark the days on which you will do special phonetic activities. Child puts a sticker on that day after he completes the activity.

·       Felt Board Fun: Write the alphabet on colorful felt squares (about 2 x 3 inches). Children make felt pictures by cutting out magazine pictures, such as pictures of an apple, ball, etc. and gluing a felt square on the back to create felt images. Put up a letter and let them find the picture that matches.

·       Lego Bricks: Give your child a picture of the letter you want him to learn and let him build a big model of that letter for you.

·       Racecar Speedway: Draw a word in puffy letters on a piece of poster board, adding a line with dashes in the middle like a roadway. Preschoolers can drive their mini cars around the word, sounding it out as they go.

Cook Your Way through the Alphabet:

Cook a special snack or meal that little hands can help with, using the alphabet as a guide.

A—Mini Apple Pies: Form A’s with chunks of apple. Use pie crust and line a cupcake tin. Fill with apples, sugar, and cinnamon, and then bake.

B—Campfire Bananas: Split a banana’s skin down the middle. Pack the sides of the banana with chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, or caramels. Wrap in foil; bake in oven or over a grill until melted. Form B’s with chocolate chips and marshmallows.

C—Croissant Chicken Grape Salad: Make sandwiches and form C’s with grape halves.

D—Dirt Cups: Layer chocolate pudding, crushed Oreo cookies, Cool Whip, and gummy worms in a cup. Make D’s with gummy worms.

E—Egg Omelets: Experiment with different combinations of ingredients. Name the winning omelet after that child. Children make E’s with green pepper slices.

F—French Toast Kabobs: Cut up squares of cooked French toast. Slide them on wooden skewers with slices of bananas and fresh berries. Form F’s with several kabobs.

G—Grilled Cheese: Make G’s with strips of cheese and ham inside the sandwich; then grill.

H—Hot Dog Pasta Bites: Form H’s with several hot dogs. Then slice into inch-sized pieces and poke raw spaghetti in both sides. Boil in water for several minutes.

I—Ice Cream Sandwiches: Make ice cream sandwiches by spreading soft ice cream between two soft cookies and then roll the ends in sprinkles. Children make letter I’s in sprinkles in a bowl.

J—Johnny Cake Casserole: Pour wet cornbread mix over sliced hot dogs that form the letter J and bake in oven.

K—Kabobs: Make fruit kabobs with sliced bananas, berries, grapes, and marshmallows. Dip in flavored yogurt. Make K’s with grapes and berries.

L—Lasagna: Preschoolers cut out L’s with extra lasagna noodles and use them for each layer.

M—Mini Monkey Bread: Pour a shallow bowel of sugar and have the child make M’s with his finger in it. Then use it to make the bread in cupcake tins.

N—Noodles: Cook several types of noodles and let the child dip them in marinara or white Alfredo sauce. Children form N’s with raw or cooled noodles.

O—Oatmeal Bars: Children make the letter O in a shallow dish of raw oats and then mix up a batch of healthy oatmeal bars.

P—Pizza: Purchase a roll of packaged biscuit dough, and cut one large biscuit in half. Roll it between your hands to make a long snake. Form the letter P out of several of them, then flatten the shaped dough and bake until golden. Take out and add pizza sauce, cheese, pepperoni, or other favorite toppings and bake 5 minutes.

Q—Quick Roll-Up Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Croissants: Spread peanut butter onto croissant dough triangles and then sprinkle with chocolate chips, roll up, and bake! Form Q’s with the chocolate chips.

R—Rainbow Bread: Paint rainbow-sand R’s with food coloring and milk on bread, and then make cinnamon sugar toast.

S—Snowman Hot Chocolate: With decorator’s frosting, make snowman faces on large marshmallows and then float in hot chocolate.

T—Taco in a Bag: Open an individual- size bag of corn chips and layer cooked taco meat, cheese, and lettuce inside. Make T’s with corn chips.

U—Upside-Down Cake: Make mini pineapple upside-down cakes in a cupcake tin. Cut up pieces of pineapple to form the letter U.

V—Vegetables: Make a fresh vegetable tray for lunch and let the children dip the veggies in Ranch dressing. Children form V’s with the vegetables.

W—Worms: Bind fifteen straws together with a rubber band. Pour cooled Jell-O into the straws. Chill. Run water over them after they are set and watch the worms slide out. Make W’s with several worms, and then eat them!

X—Cookies: Children cut out X’s in sugar-cookie dough. After they have been baked and cooled, dip one end of the cookies in melted chocolate and add sprinkles.

Y—Yogurt Parfaits: Layer yogurt with fruits, granola, or cereal. Make Y’s with cereal.

Z—Zoo: Stick animal crackers in celery with peanut butter. Add a few raisins as their food, in the middle. Form a big Z with the “celery sticks zoo.”

These fun activities can help your child become good friends with phonics and embrace the skills that will give him a solid foundation for literacy. With a little planning, you can take away the tedium of drills and make phonics fun. You’ll be glad you did.

Jan May is a graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature and has a college background in Biblical studies and Christian education from North Central University, Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is a fifteen-year homeschool veteran and creative writing teacher and is the author of Isabel’s Secret, the first New Millennium Girls chapter books and writing curriculum for tweens. She hosts a fun website for homeschoolers with free resources, projects, and kid friendly recipes. Come visit! www.NewMillenniumGirlBooks.com


1.    Geiser, Traci, All About Preschool: Phonics and Phonemic Awareness. (www.Education.com/phonemic awareness.com )

Copyright 2013, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the February 2013 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.