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7 Ways to Make Phonics Fun

Literacy, Phonics

Written by: Jess Dalrymple

When it comes to teaching reading, phonics is still the best way for primary students to learn sounds and recognize words. Packet after packet of the same sounds and words, however, aren’t very engaging for young learners. There are so many ways to make phonics fun for your first and second grade students! These fun activities can fit into systematic sequential explicit phonics instruction, and/or support review and practice.

Keeping activities interactive and focused on learning and growing will help your students have fun while learning how to read through phonics. Try a few of these phonics activities out in your own classroom.

Sing the sounds

Music is a fantastic way to help kids learn phonics concepts! There are so many engaging tunes that help teach individual letter sounds. Using multiple literacies and engaging the body through movement and sound will help your lucky little learners retain and practice their letter sounds. Do you use any phonics songs in your classroom?

We love teaching and learning with music so much, we created original songs for our Social Emotional Learning Curriculum that focus on character traits like responsibility, respect, and cooperation!

Bring out the mats

Phonics passage mats put all the skills your students need to practice for each letter sound in one place. These mats require absolutely no teacher prep, which saves time for you to work 1:1 or in small groups with students that need additional support.

phonics mat

Each mat has a passage that focuses on one target sound within a grade level text. You’ll love sharing these with your first or second graders! They’re perfect for fluency practice as they students will read the passages aloud three times to hear the sounds and practice reading. 

Hearing the sounds will help students find the words that follow the phonics pattern within the given grade level passage. Next, the students will write the words in alphabetical order. This not only reinforces sound patterns and writing but also letter recognition. Then, students will get to bring creativity to the mat and color the pictures that have the focus phonics pattern.Last, students will demonstrate comprehension skills by drawing a picture of a scene from the story. Phonics mats include light, fun stories for your students to enjoy. 


1st Grade Phonics Mats

toothy task kits

2nd Grade Phonics Mats

Magnetic Letters

This idea is simple but effective. Dump out a bunch of magnetic letters on the table and give each student a cookie sheet. Assign the students an ending sound such as -at, -ip, or -og. Then tell them to create as many rhyming words as they can using the same ending sound.

magnetic letters

Interactive Toothy Tasks

Meet Toothy! Toothy is a character that students can interact with to learn different sounds. The set-up for Phonics Toothy Task Kits  is simple for teachers and the game is so much fun for your lucky little learners! 

To start, your students will get a Toothy mat (laminated or in a page protector) and a dry erase marker. Every time the student answers a question correctly about their given sound skill, they draw a tooth! The cards have all the answers on the back, making it easy for students to practice letter sounds and phonics skills independently or in small groups.

You can use the Phonics Toothy Task mats in centers, for early finishers, or with intervention groups. Students love the “Toothy” character and the interactive fun way to learn phonics! Try a free sample of Phonics Toothy HERE.

printed phonics toothy game

If you prefer to assign centers on devices, check out our Digital Toothy Task Cards would be perfect!

digital phonics toothy task cards


Digital Phonics Toothy

toothy task kits

Printed Phonics Toothy Task Cards

Time for Sand & Shaving Cream

This is a student-favorite! Squirt a small pile of shaving cream on the desk or table and allow your students to get a little messy. Don’t forget to roll up the sleeves first! Students spread a thin layer of shaving cream on the table and then use their finger to write words.

shaving cream word work activity

This can also be done with sand except it’s suggested to find a tray for the sand to sit in. A local hospital may be a good place to check for these. We were able to get a ton of surgical trays for free and use them for everything. Some teachers prefer to substitute with whipped cream to fill their classrooms with a sweet smell! You can easily add food coloring if you like this option.

Rainbow Spelling and more

Repetition is helpful when it comes to children learning to spell and read. Rainbow spelling is a kid favorite option. Students choose a word and write it out with a red marker. Each time a letter is written, the sound is said aloud until the word is finished. Then the student chooses an orange marker and repeats this process over the red marker until all the colors of the rainbow have been used. Check out THIS POST for 16 more word work activity ideas… But don’t stop there! Our Engaging Phonics Center Activities post digs into top resources to make phonics center prep easier than ever.

rainbow spelling activity


toothy task kits

No Prep Spelling & Word Work Activities

More Phonics Resources

Be sure to check out these Free No Prep Phonics Worksheets – great for daily review, centers assignments, or morning work!

Phonics Day By Day

Here’s a HUGE pack of DAILY review worksheets that are perfect for your daily dose of phonics practice!

daily phonics review sheets

Phonics Centers

Lucky Little Learners Phonics Centers and Activities for 2nd grade is an essential ELA resource and is part of the 2nd Grade Literacy Centers Bundle!

short vowel words phonics center


toothy task kits

Phonics Day By Day

toothy task kits

Printable & Digital Phonics Centers

Learning letters sounds is one of the first steps in making your lucky little learners lucky little readers! These ways to make phonics fun are perfect activities for first and second grade students to develop independent reading skills through letter sound practice.

If you’d like to save these phonics ideas to your Pinterest board, you can click here or save the image below.

1 Comment

  1. Linda

    I love these mats. Used them a lot lastvyear❤️


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