3 Tips To Make Phonics Lessons More Engaging

Looking to level up your phonics lessons? Keeping phonics fresh and fun all year long IS possible with a few simple strategies. If you need some new tricks for your teacher toolbox, come along I share my favorite ways (and freebies!) to make phonics lessons more engaging!

Teaching phonics is engaging, fun, and especially easy with these 3 tips you can try in your classroom today.

As primary teachers, we know that students need frequent exposure to word work and phonics lessons to gain fluency. Sometimes though, it can be hard to keep lessons feeling fresh when we are focused on repetition! Over the years I have found that the best way to make phonics more engaging is through a variety of activities. With a carefully crafted mix of games, manipulatives, and a few surprise activities, you will have no problem capturing the attention of your students!

1. Focus On Variety in Phonics Activities

The key to making any topic fun is to add variety to your activities. While you will be focusing on many of the same skills, I find that utilizing a variety of activities, games, and methods really helps keep my kiddos engaged in phonics. Another great thing to consider is how to incorporate tactile materials and hands-on manipulatives into your activities. The addition of new, interesting materials will quickly grab the attention of your learners and make phonics practice a breeze! 

Using a variety of activities to practice phonics skills is a great way to keep your students engaged and learning.

My Go-To Phonics Materials To Change Things Up 

I recommend investing in a few different manipulatives, games, and materials to help add variety to your phonics lessons. I love no-prep worksheets as much as anyone else (and they have a place) but don't forget to include some other hands-on materials to keep your lessons engaging! Some of my own favorites include: 

  • Magnetic Letters: These are an obvious go-to but such a valuable purchase for the primary classroom. It's easy to make instant centers when you have a set of these. I love having students build words off our word wall and practice spelling words and CVC words with magnet letters. The possibilities are endless.  
  • Building Bricks: Building bricks or small "Legos" are a great way to work on sight words, CVC words, and other phonics skills in the classroom. First-grade students LOVE building bricks so these are a great way to grab attention and engage students even after a long day of learning. For this activity, I simply provide students with bricks and word cards and let them form letters to make the words. This makes a great simple center activity. 
  • Playdough: Teachers either love it or hate it, but there's no denying that it's a student favorite! I'm a big fan of pulling out the playdough to practice building words when my kids need a bit of a "brain break" so to speak. While we are still working on important phonics skills, the sensory experience of building with playdough is a great way to calm your students at the end of an especially long day of learning. 
  • BINGO Games: I love BINGO in my classroom and so do my kiddos! Using BINGO to practice phonics is a great way to keep kids interested, even with repetitive topics. Grab a "short a" phonics BINGO freebie here to get started playing in your class!

Grab this fun and FREE short a CVC Phonics Bingo from The Chocolate Teacher TPT store today.

Don't forget to check your local thrift stores for these items while you're out and about! I always seem to find nearly new sets of magnet letters, dry erase boards, and building bricks at yard sales and secondhand stores. Stocking your classroom with great materials doesn't need to be expensive! 

2. Get Kids Up And Moving 

In addition to variety, firsties need to get up and move from time to time. I find that allowing for that in your teaching plan can really accelerate learning. One of my favorite engaging phonics activities that also allows my students to stretch their legs is "write the room".

One of the great things about write-the-room is that you can sneak it into center time, use it when you have a few minutes to fill, or pull it out at the end of an afternoon. Write the room is a great way to mix up the day when your kiddos get restless and you just need a change of pace. 

In addition, write the room is highly versatile, especially for phonics-based activities! I started using write-the-room activities in my classroom to help my students target specific sounds. I found having the kids move about the room as they decode the words really helped get those brains ticking! Make sure to grab this phonics write the room freebie if you're looking to mix up your lessons. The recording sheet in this activity also includes a word bank to assist young learners with spelling. 

Write the room activities like this one are fun ways to get your students excited about practicing phonics skills.

3. Try Something New To Excite Your Students 

I've saved the best for last! My absolute favorite way to practice phonics skills is with an activity I call "Hidden Words". In my endless search for engaging phonics activities for my first graders, I came up with the idea that has proved to be my students' favorite. 

Practicing phonics is fun and engaging for your students with these write the room worksheets.

In the first grade classroom, so much of our phonics work revolves around spotting subtle differences between words. This takes LOTS of practice and repetition! While a variety of activities, manipulatives, and games are super helpful, I still found myself needing one more way to grab their attention. This is when I decided to make my kids into word detectives! 

For this activity, I created worksheets with words targeting specific phonics skills hidden among a picture. Then, I provided my kiddos with inexpensive magnifying glasses (yay for the dollar store!) and asked them to use them to find the hidden words. They were absolutely hooked! I am still amazed that the addition of a $1 magnifying glass can make this activity so much more appealing to my first graders!

Since it's such a classroom hit, we use these activities all year long to target CVC, CVCE, beginning blends, ending consonant blends, digraphs, trigraphs, spelling patterns, and word families. My students are always SO excited when we use these activities. I think it's safe to say that we all know how much easier it is to focus on any topic when students are engaged. As a teacher, there's nothing better than when your students ask specifically for an assignment and this one is always requested! 

Students love being word detectives as they search for words and practice phoncs skills.

Try Hidden Words Phonics Activities In Your Room

Interested in trying out your own set of hidden word activities with your students? If you're ready for a refresher in your phonics activities,  grab a free set of hidden words activities! All you will need are a few inexpensive magnifying glasses and you're good to go!

Use these FREE hidden picture phonics activities for fun and engaging phonics practice that is sure to keep your students engaged.

I recommend first trying these out during small groups and teaching students how to complete the activity. Once your kiddos get the hang of it, this can easily be used during center and independent desk work time as well! Once you try hidden words phonics activities, I know you'll be hooked too. These make for a wonderfully simple way to help kiddos focus on those tricky phonics skills. 

 If you're interested in checking out the full bundle you can find them all in my store. You'll be set for a full year of engaging phonics lessons with these activities!

Use these hidden picture phonics activities for fun and engaging phonics practice that is sure to keep your students engaged.

Save This Post 

Don't forget to pin this post to your classroom Pinterest board so you'll be all set with fresh and engaging phonics ideas! 

Teaching phonics in first grade is a breeze when you use these helpful tips to make phonics lessons more engaging. Your students will love activities like write the room, BINGO, and hidden word worksheets, they will have fun while practicing targeted skills. #phonics #firstgradephonics #phonicsforfirstgrade #phonicsactivities #firstgradephonicsactivities

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