5 Simple Ways To Build Phonics Skills and Phonemic Awareness

Having kids practice the sounds in words makes a big difference in how quickly they learn to read.

Phonics instruction is all about helping developing readers understand how letters are linked to sounds. There are two ways to teach phonics: incidentally and systemically. Teachers who use incidental instruction teach intervention strategies as they arise and are needed. With systemic phonics instruction, teachers use specific lessons in a prescribed order ensuring lessons build on each other and work together.

With both strategies, you need to have strong activities that engage your students. Here are six different activities that build on different ways kids can learn:

1. Sound and Picture Match-Up

Pictures are the first symbols a child learns. She might not know how to spell cow, but she knows a cow when she sees one. Using pictures or videos to teach sounds can build confidence in students who struggle with letters. With picture cards, students can learn key words that are used to remember the sounds and shapes of the letters of the alphabet.  Try out this free printable to help your learners light up when they see pictures they recognize.  Reinforce their learning with these funny animated alphabet videos.

2. Sing-Alongs That Teach Specific Sounds

Combining the rythm and action of songs or chants with clapping and dancing helps children connect sounds and letters in an easy, memorable, and active way. You can find lots of alphabet songs and chants, and you can use this printable poster to help guide children through an alphabet chant.

3. Movement and Sound Play

The more kids move around, the more their brains build the gray matter needed to retain information. Every class can be a time to learn the sounds of letters and words. Check out this free locomotion phonics lesson for physical education.

4. Hand-On Letters


Kinesthetic, also known as tactile, learning is a way to get children moving and doing; using the body in some form or fashion as they learn to read. This cool pool noodle phonics activity helps kids who thrive on tactile learning experiences.

5. Phonics With a Friend

When planning your lessons, be sure to add a group component. Partner work and sharing motivate students to participate and learn together.  Here’s a lesson from FastTrack Phonics that has a social component built right in.