Teaching Silent Letters with Fun Activities for the Primary Grades

Teaching silent letters is one of my favorite lessons in the first-grade classroom. While it can seem a little tricky at first glance, you'll find that with some fun activities, your firsties will catch on quickly! I like this topic because my students always seem to get excited to try and spot those silent letters on their own! Today, I'm covering how I introduce this topic and the activities we use to practice silent letters in a fun way. 

Teaching silent letters to your students can be fun, easy, and engaging with lots of different activities like these.

Introducing Silent Letters 

First off, it's essential to provide a solid introduction to this topic to set the stage for teaching silent letters. Personally, I love doing most of my intros with my whole group. This method helps build a feeling of community in my classroom and provides a high-level overview to everyone at once.  

For this topic, I keep it super simple! I use good ole' magnet letters and a dry-erase marker. To get started, I stick the letter combinations WR, KN, GN, and MB. I put these letters up on the board. I talk to kiddos about how they might come across these letter pairs in their reading and notice that the first letter doesn't make any sound. 

Use magnetic letters to help you introduce the concept of silent letters to your students.

I explain to the kiddos this is a bit like vowel teams, where only one letter makes a sound. In the case of a silent letter, the second letter in the pair does all the talking. To illustrate this, I'll write out some words for each letter pairing on the board and read them aloud. 

We take the time to listen to the sounds in each word, and then I circle the letter that makes the sound. Some great examples are words like writewreckknowkneelgnatgnomethumb, and lamb. Once I've offered a few examples of these silent letters in action, my kiddos are usually eager to start volunteering to tell me what letter sounds they hear for each word. 

Working with Silent Letters in Small Groups 

Our basic introduction helps lay the groundwork for more in-depth phonics activities. Once we split into small groups, I like to use a sorting game to further illustrate words with (and without) silent letters to help cement this topic! 

To play, kiddos will choose a card from a pile and read the word on the card. Then, they identify if the word has a silent letter or makes a letter sound at the beginning. We focus on one silent letter at a time in each set of cards. For example, for the letter g, they will sort their cards into the category of "words with a g sound" or "words with a silent g." 

A sorting game like this gives your students the opportunity to practice identifying and spelling silent letters.

We use a recording sheet with this game. As a result, students get practice with writing the words as well as reading them. After we've sorted the cards out into each group, I like to use some corresponding worksheets for each letter. The worksheets continue with reading words and listening for letter sounds or identifying words with silent letters. 

The activities include:

  • Circling the correct letter for the sound they hear.
  • Circling the correct spelling for words with silent letters.
  • Cutting and pasting the correct letters into boxes to finish spelling words.

Typically, we focus on one letter per day, starting first with the sorting activity and then moving on to the worksheets. This is a great way for students to practice working with silent letters when children are brand new to this concept! I also like to send additional copies of these worksheets home for extra practice. 

Write The Room Activity 

Another fun activity for teaching silent letters is reading and writing words with silent letters with write the room. I LOVE Write the Room activities and finding plenty of ways to use them in my classroom. They're an excellent option for first graders since they offer an opportunity to get up and move around. If you ever find yourself with some rambunctious or restless kiddos, this is a great way to refocus! 

When it comes to using write the room for silent letters, I like to use this activity after my kiddos have had practice with the sorting lesson and worksheets. Since Write the Room is an independent activity, I want to make sure my kiddos have some confidence before assigning this task. 

Write the room activities like these are a great way to get your students up and moving when practicing silent letters.

To use, I hang the cards around the room and give each of my kiddos a recording sheet. If you have them, clipboards are pretty handy for this activity! In my classroom, we spread out in a circle so that kiddos are evenly spaced around the room. They know to walk clockwise as they fill in their recording sheets. This helps avoid classroom chaos and zig-zagging around the room! 

Children will move from card to card and identify each picture. Then, they fill in the missing letters to properly spell the word on their recording sheet. There are a few options for the recording sheets, so you can increase the difficulty as your students progress. 

Using Technology Centers to Teach Silent Letters 

It's no secret that children LOVE technology. For this reason, I try to incorporate a few technology centers in our lessons for each new phonics skill we focus on. Since the same type of practice can get a little boring, I like to mix it up.  Digital learning games help keep their attention! 

Google Slides activities like these give your students the opportunity to continue practicing silent letters in centers or as independent practice.

In my room, we typically use two basic forms of digital activities. First, we use Google Slides in small group lessons, partner games, or independent centers. This silent letters game for Google Slides focuses on building words. Each slide contains audio directions. Children will listen to the directions and then drag and drop the correct letters to build each word.  

This activity is also an excellent option for whole group review. I like to pull this out at the end of the day and call on volunteers to come up to the Smart Board and complete a slide. 

Another fun option is Boom Card games like this Silent Letters Phonics Activity. This deck includes 30 cards featuring 3 different activities. Students will choose the missing letters in one activity, choose correctly spelled words in another activity, and type letters to spell words in the final activity. 

Since these cards come with sound and are self-correcting, they're an excellent option for center time, partner games, homework, and distance learning! 

Use the engaging power of digital activities to help students master silent letters.

Make Learning Silent Letters Fun 

The key to making this lesson successful is variety. Mixing things up with group learning lessons, small group games, worksheets, centers, and digital games is a great way to ensure your students have fun learning! If they're having fun, you can bet your students will get the most out of your silent letter lessons! 

If you'd like to take a peek at any of the games or activities mentioned in this post, you can check them all out in my TpT Shop. I hope that these activities will help keep your lessons feeling fresh and fun! Happy learning, friends! 

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Teaching silent letters is fun and easy with lots of engaging activities to keep your students excited about learning. From worksheets to Google Slides activities your students will look forward to practicing silent letters as they are learning them. Grab these resources to start teaching silent letters in your classroom today! #thechocolateteacher #teachingsilentletters #activitiestoteachsilentletters

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