10 Phonics-Building Activities for Teaching and Practicing K-2 Literacy Skills

Cat in the Hat brings fun to learning letters and sounds

Sponsored By Dr. Seuss Enterprises

Learning to read can be hard work. But when you have a pal like the Cat in the Hat to help you out, practicing the skills that will take you to the next level can be loads of fun. Here, we’ve gathered together some of our favorite Cat in the Hat activities from teachers, bloggers, and our friends at Seussville. From beginning letter recognition and rhyming to writing and readers theater, these activities will help readers build the skills they need in a fun and engaging way.

1. Play an alphabet game

Cat in the Hat book in the foreground. Worksheet with red and white striped hat with letters in circles and colored plastic discs on top in the background

Your young learners will love practicing their ABC’s with this free printable alphabet game. To play, students pick up one card at a time, read the letter out loud, then place a colored counter on the matching letter, filling up all the polka dots in the Cat’s hat.

Skills practiced: letter recognition, letter-sound correspondence

Learn more: Tot Schooling

2. Create rhyming words

Rhyming requires students to listen closely for sounds within words. This helps them learn that words are made up of separate parts and teaches them about the patterns and structures that make up our language.

Skills practiced: phonics, phonological awareness

Learn more: Seussville

3. Make word-family hats

two images of rhyming words written on red strips of paper, one image has a child pointing at one of the words

Word families are an easy yet effective strategy for teaching reading and spelling. For this activity, students practice grouping both short- and long-vowel word families into the red and white stripes of the Cat in the Hat’s top hat.

Skills practiced: phonics, rhyming words, word recognition

Learn more: This Reading Mama

4. Go on a Cat in the Hat word search

Cat in the Hat word search worksheet

Word searches are an easy way for students to practice and improve their reading skills. Skills such as scanning, decoding, and word recognition are all key components of reading fluency.

Skills practiced: vocabulary, fluency

Learn more: Seussville

5. Play a sight word game

a child's hand holding a card with a red and white striped hat and the word fat other cards below

Using card stock or index cards, make cards with rhyming words from The Cat in the Hat plus one smaller card with a picture of a birthday cake. Place all of the cards facedown on a flat surface. Hide the birthday cake under one of the cards. To play, have a student flip over a card and read the word. If they read the word correctly, it stays faceup. If they read it incorrectly, read it for them, and then place it facedown again. The game ends when they find the hidden birthday cake and correctly read the card it is hidden under.

Skills practiced: letter and word recognition, phonics, rhyming words

Learn more: There’s Just One Mommy

6. Write about things you can do

cat in the hat writing activity worksheet

Kids love the Cat in the Hat for all the outrageous things he can do! This activity prompts students to write about all the things they can do too. Starting with the sentence starter “I can …,” students will brainstorm all the awesome things they are capable of.

Skills practiced: writing skills, reading comprehension

Learn more: Seussville 

7. Perform a Cat in the Hat readers theater

children performing a readers theater in the classroom

Image source

Nothing makes a story come alive like a live performance! Check out these free Cat in the Hat readers theater scripts, created by a teacher especially for students in early elementary. Not only does readers theater give students valuable practice with oral reading, it offers an entertaining and engaging means of improving fluency and enhancing comprehension.

Skills practiced: fluency and comprehension

Learn more: Kevin Sheehan

8. Learn about opposites

cat in the hat opposites activity worksheet

There are so many memorable Dr. Seuss characters that kids can relate to! In this activity, students will will take a closer look at two favorites—the Cat in the Hat and Horton—and search for similarities and differences between them, and maybe recognize some traits in themselves.

Skills practiced: compare and contrast, making connections to texts and characters

Learn more: Seussville 

9. Go beyond the text

Young students writing in class

There are so many ways to expand your students’ reading comprehension by diving deeper into the story The Cat in the Hat. For instance, tell the story from the fish’s point of view. Count the number of syllables in each sentence and try to figure out the pattern. Brainstorm questions you would ask the Cat in the Hat if you met him, and more.

Skills practiced: reading comprehension, writing

Learn more: Teaching Ideas

10. Learn more with the Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library

The stories and activities in the Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library tackle a plethora of fascinating topics like the human body, the environment, animals, the solar system, and more! Not only do these texts make learning fun (because, you know … the Cat in the Hat!), they’re great for sparking conversations and inquiry. 

Learn more: Seussville

Loving these Cat in the Hat activities? Find tons of free printables and classroom activities to teach reading, math, SEL, and more with Dr. Seuss!