What’s an engaging and effective way to ensure your students are practicing their phonics skills every day in class? Including a phonics center in your regular literacy center rotations!
Phonics centers are an awesome way to get kids practicing phonics concepts independently, and it’s so easy to develop centers that are highly engaging.
Read on if you’d love some recommendations that will spice up your phonics centers. Bonus for you = this post includes TONS of ideas that will cut down on the time it takes you to prepare your centers!
1. Phonics Mats
Have you ever used learning mats with your students? If not, phonics mats are a great place to start! Basically, learning mats are one-pagers jam-packed with various prompts/ways for your students to practice a newly learned skill. This approach is so effective because when kids repeatedly apply a new skill in different ways, they are more likely to commit that new skill to long-term memory!
Here’s a look at a Lucky Little Learners phonics mat for the /cl/ blend:
You can see that on just one mat, there are five tasks included to reinforce the concept:
1- Highlight all the /cl/ words in the reading passage
2- Reread the passage three times
3- List the /cl/ words from the passage in alphabetical order
4- Color pictures that feature the /cl/ sound
5- Draw an illustration to match the reading passage on the back of the mat
Some teachers print individual sheets for kids to complete (like in the picture above); others prefer to laminate the mats for repeated use. Also, many teachers assign the mats as google slides.
Click on one of the images below to learn more about the Lucky Little Learners 1st or 2nd-grade phonics mats:
Try a free sample of our Digital Phonics Passages!
Hands-on games and manipulatives are always a big hit at the phonics center! Here are some sure-to-please ideas:
Provide puzzle pieces with a mix of images and words. Ask your students to complete puzzles by matching the images and words that have the same phonics pattern.
Spin and Sort Cards
Spread phonics image cards out in front of the group facing up. Using card stock, a brad, and a paper clip, create a spinner with 3-4 known phonics skills that match the image cards. (i.e. you could create four sections on the spinner such as: “bl”, “cl”, “fl” & “lose a turn”) On their turn, students spin and try to find cards with the matching phonics pattern. Finally, students write the word from the image card on a recording sheet. The student with the most words at the end of the game is the “winner”.
Word Generation Challenge
Create spinners. Provide a recording sheet and challenge your students to come up with as many real words as they can based on the phonics pattern they land on when it’s their turn.
Word Match & Build
The object of the game is to build the object with the correctly matching phonics cards.
- Create outlines of an object you’re studying on a poster or large sheet of paper. (i.e. snowman)
- Label the outlines with the phonics pattern you want your students to practice. (i.e. /ake/)
- Create phonics word and image cards that match the pattern in the outline (i.e. rake, stake, cake, snake) Create some that don’t match too for an added challenge!
Sentence Search and Find
Gather or print detailed images and glue them to index cards. Ask students to search for all the words hidden in the images on the cards. Arrange the words to make a sentence and write on a piece of paper.
If you know your students would LOVE these phonics center ideas, but you don’t want to spend your whole weekend creating all the pieces and parts, check out the Lucky Little Learners Ready to Go Phonics Centers Bundle!
All the games mentioned above (and dozens more) are included in our 2nd grade phonics centers bundle.
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Printable & Digital Phonics Centers
If we’re talking about high engagement, hands-on games – we can’t leave out one of our most popular products – Phonics Toothy!
How the Phonics Toothy game works:
(Printable) Each partner gets a Toothy mat and dry erase marker. Students take turns choosing a card, and each student will solve the problem on their Toothy mat or dry erase board. When each student has answered the question, they compare their answers and then turn the card over to check to see if their answer is correct. Those who have a correct answer get to draw a tooth in Toothy’s mouth on their mat. If the student’s answer is incorrect, they do not draw a tooth and those who got the answer correct must explain how they got to the correct answer. Then the next student draws the next card and the process is repeated. The game is over once all the cards have been answered. The student with the most teeth in Toothy’s mouth is the winner of the game.
(Digital) For each phonics concept, your student will be asked a different question in google slides. When the correct answer is selected, the student gets to add a tooth to the character’s mouth. Give the Phonics Toothy Task Cards a try with this free digital download! Click here to download Digital Phonics Task Cards.
Check out the Phonics Toothy in our shop:
3. Phonics Center Manipulatives & Tools
Don’t forget to stock your phonics center with student-friendly phonics resources! Your students will be more successful when they have the reference tools they need at their fingertips.
Here are some phonics center resources to have on hand:
- Phonics Spinners
- Letter Formation Guides
- Magnetic Letter Tiles
- Phonics Sound Charts
- Six Syllable Types Anchor Chart
- Sound Boxes
You can find all of handy phonics resources mentioned above (and lots more!) inside the Lucky Little Toolkit.
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Lucky Little Toolkit