Louise Underhill, Tes author FunkyPhonics, shares original ways to make phonics practice valuable and fun
With the screening check fast approaching, it’s important that neither you, nor your class feel that phonics lessons are becoming tedious. Over the years I've just about mastered the art of keeping phonics fun with these practical yet inventive resources.
Revisiting sounds is crucial, but that doesn't mean you always need to use flashcards. Infact, when you use flashcards regularly, pupils may start simply guessing which sounds they think will come next. To overcome this, I created a random sound generator. With this tool, you can not only add and take away sounds, but also use the speed of the generator to add an element of surprise - they never know which letters will appear next!
I always find that the reading of sounds is the area that requires most attention. For something a bit different, my snakes and ladders game, known as comets and rockets, adds a bit of variety to the class practice session and goes down well with my groups.
I’m a firm believer in the idea that the reading of pseudo, or alien words, should be a regular part of phonics sessions, as it helps to take some of the pressure off ahead of the screening check. When I was unable to find appropriate activities, I came up with my own alien words presentation. And, for a bit of variety, this alien words board game includes a number of different boards to support the practice of sound recognition.
Practicing and applying can often overlap, and it’s not uncommon for me to use the same activities for both purposes. For example, these sentence mazes are great for getting pupils to apply their knowledge by reading for sense, matching the pictures to the words listed and then having a go at writing the complete sentence underneath.
To help learners apply reading sounds and words outside of the classroom, I often send easy-to-use resources home. These sounds a-maze-ing sheets, which are full of simple, fun activities, require a few little additional resources, making them perfect for home learning.