Phonics--Are They Important?

Anyone who has been to school has learned phonics. Phonics is the basic reading instruction that teaches children the relationships between letters and sounds. Phonics teaches children to use these relationships to speak and write words. According to a study by the Partnership for Reading, the objective of phonics instruction is to help children learn and use the "alphabetic principle"-the systematic and predictable relationships between written letters and spoken sounds. Knowing these relationships through phonics helps young readers to recognize familiar words accurately and easily "decode" new words.

The Progressing Stages of Phonics
  • Realize that sentences are made up of words.
  • Realize that words can rhyme. Make your own rhymes.
  • Realize that words can be broken down into syllables. Start breaking down words into syllables.
  • Realize that words can begin with the same sound. Practice these first sounds.
  • Realize that words can end with the same sound. Practice these ending sounds.
  • Realize that words can have the same medial sounds. Practice these medial sounds.
  • Realize that words can be broken down into individual sounds. Practice these sounds.
  • Realize that sounds can be deleted from words to make new words. Practice these.
  • Start blending sounds to make words.
  • Start segmenting words into component sounds.

What To Look For
  • They list the following behaviors that indicate children's growing mastery of phonics.
  • Know consonant sounds
  • Know that a, e, i, o, and u are vowels.
  • Know sounds of digraphs. Example: /sh/ in shell.
  • Know sounds of consonant blends. Example: /bl/ in block and /str/ in string.
  • Know short vowel word families. Example: at, an, op, on, it, in.
  • Break words into syllables.
  • Find familiar words within unknown words. Example: mat in matter.
  • Substitute or add letters to make new words. Example: When asked to take away the letter t in the word tan, can the child say the word is an? Can the child put the letter t on an to make the word ant?

Things to do at Home

Learn Phonics with-Letter-Sound Cards

Make personal letter cards with each child. Write the upper- and lowercase form of a letter on one side of an index card. On the other side, help children draw, paste pictures, or write words that begin with the sound. For example, on one side write Bb. On the other side children can write, draw, or paste a bat, bee, or boat.

I Spy-A Fun Phonics Game

Invite children to play a guessing game. Without revealing it to the child, select an object in the room and provide phonics clues to help the child guess what it is. For example, "I spy something that begins with the sound /t/." Keep offering clues until the child guesses that the object is a table.
Learn About Phonics by "Sorting"

Create a stack of cards with pictures that represent words beginning with two initial consonants that you would like the child to work on, for example l and t. Have children say the word and match the picture with the correct initial sound. Invite them to think of other words that might be included in each stack.

Hunt for Letters

Who knew learning phonics could be so much fun? Turn old magazines and catalogs into phonics activities that develop your child's comprehension even further. Pick a letter and spot everything in the catalog that has the same phonetic sound.

Grab the scissors and cut those items out of the pages. Together you'll make a customized flash card as you learn the letter and its sound. Kids will have the visual of the word, such as alligator, along with the letter you're studying. You only need a few household items to get started.

Teach Phonics Through Picture-Taking

Tap into his creative mind when you hand him a camera and send him on a phonics adventure. Help him spot objects that navigate him from A to Z through photos. He can snap pictures of everything from an anthill to a Zamboni. Continues with your child makes his own alphabet book with his pictures. The activity never gets old and can be used to capture a field trip, vacation or regular day with mom or dad through his eyes.

Spell Phonetically as He Writes

Help him practice writing skills as you spell words for him phonetically. Once he knows the phonetic sounds of the alphabet (aah, buh, cuh, etc.), he'll be able to spell and comprehend all of those words he sees in his storybooks.

Get him a notebook and help him create lists that cover everything from his favorite toys to games he likes to play. Sound out every letter so he can write the word himself. For example, if he likes cars, sound out cuh so he'll write the letter C, then aah for the letter A and so on.

Play Alphabet Ball
Burn some of your child's endless supply of energy. Play phonics activities that teach him letters, letter sounds and words. Alphabet ball is a multifaceted game that grows with him and can be adapted to fit a variety of school subjects. There are three levels of play -- one for toddlers, one for preschoolers and one for school-age children. To get started all you need are a ball, marker and a child who loves to play.

Happy play!!


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Welcome to my all thing special education blog. I empower busy elementary special education teachers to use best practice strategies to achieve a data and evidence driven classroom community by sharing easy to use, engaging, unique approaches to small group reading and math. Thanks for Hopping By.
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