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Home » Blog » What is Toothy? » Phonological Awareness Toothy » The Perfect Routine to Jumpstart Explicit Phonics Lessons

The Perfect Routine to Jumpstart Explicit Phonics Lessons

Foundational Reading, Literacy, Phonological Awareness, Phonological Awareness Toothy, Toothy

Written by: Jess Dalrymple

Activating phonological awareness at the beginning of explicit phonics instruction is a SUPER important component of Science of Reading. But this is just 5 minutes out of the day.. What can teachers use that is quick, easy, and always engaging for kids? Read on to learn about our favorite routine to use for the phonological awareness focus in your explicit phonics lessons.

Components of an Explicit Phonics Lesson

An explicit phonics lesson has seven steps and typically lasts 20-30 minutes.

  1. Warm Up/ Review: Review a previously taught skill.. NOT something related to the current lesson. For example, if the week before you worked on short /a/, the warm up might be a quick letter-sound review to work on fluency and automaticity. The warm up could be phonemic or phonic activity. It could also be a quick review of sight words.
  2. Phonological Awareness Activation: This is the step we will focus on in this article. Read on for an in-depth explanation.
  3. Letter-Sound Correspondence: Introduce the new phonics skill of the day. Practice naming the letter(s) and saying the sound.
  4. Word Blending & Reading: Decode & Blend words that contain the new sound.
  5. Word Building: Use magnetic letters or tiles to create words. Phonics ladders also work well. Phonics Toothy is a fun option too!
  6. Dictation & Encoding: Write words that contain the new sound/ spelling pattern.
  7. Decodable Text: Practice reading the new phonics sound/ spelling pattern in decodable text.

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Phonological Awareness Routine

It might be tempting, but it's important not to skip the phonological awareness portion of your phonics lessons. Why? The brain is wired for language – but not for reading. So, through phonological awareness, we are building connections between the visual and language centers of brain. Activating the language center before connecting to the visual part of the brain (aka the part that recognizes letters of the alphabet) gives kids a place to connect the new phonics learning. Read more about why phonological awareness is important in this article.

The really good news is that phonological awareness routines are super fun! Our favorite tool for fun and no prep planning is Phonological Awareness Toothy.

1) Select the Phonological Awareness Skill to Review

From early skills like rhyming to advanced skills like phoneme substitution, with the Phonological Awareness Toothy Kit your routine is planned for the year!

2) Grab the Task Cards

The routine is simple. Grab a card and hold it up. Read the teacher prompt on the back and students respond with the answer. Voila! No prep. No fuss. Your phonological awareness routine couldn't be easier!

You can also display the task card under a document camera.

3) Draw a Tooth

Now for the TOOTHY fun! When the class responds correctly, they get to draw a tooth. You can play until Toothy's mouth is full of teeth, or set a goal of, say “5 teeth” if time is limited.

That's it! You can use as many or as few cards as you have time for.

Download a Toothy task card set and try this routine in your classroom.

Phonological Awareness Toothy Sets

Early Level: Words in a Sentence

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Basic Level: Identifying Vowel Sounds

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Advanced Level: Chaining Phonemes

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Routines for Each Phonological Awareness Level

Let's dig into what the routine looks like at each of the phonological awareness levels.

Early Level

Basic Level

Advanced Level

How do you know which cards to use?

Start with a phonemic awareness screener like the one pictured below. Select Toothy card sets that give kids practice with the skills they need more practice with. Read more about how to identify gaps in phonological awareness.

For students who would benefit from additional phonological awareness intervention, the Toothy routine is perfect for a small group warm up and especially easy for another adult or older/ independent reader to lead one-on-one.

Download this phonemic awareness screener

Don't forget to download a set of Phonological Awareness Toothy cards before you go!

Try this routine in your classroom, then let us know how it went in the comments below.

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