Learning phonics definitely does not have to be all about sitting down at a table with a pencil in hand, in fact I would say a large proportion of phonics learning can be done in an active way. In my experience more reluctant learners prefer active learning and will also be keen to join in and have a go at something if it is more active. With this in mind I thought I would add one of Isabel’s favourite phonics games. This game is an adaptation of the four corners game, I have no idea where I first got the idea for this game, but I have been playing it for a few years now. I regularly played it with my class when I was teaching and play it a lot with Isabel.
The game enables you to practise letter sounds that have either just been learned or the ones that are hard to remember. When children first start learning letter sounds this game can be used to hear initial sounds (the first letter in a word) as they get more confident it can be used to hear end sounds and middle sounds.
How to Play
- Take four pieces of paper and a pen. Choose the four letter sounds you want to focus on and write each sound on a different piece of paper. E.g. s, a, t, p.
- Show each letter to your child and ensure they can recognise them.
- Place each piece of paper in a different corner of a room.
Game 1: Say one of the letter sounds and your child runs to that sound. When they arrive they say the sound on the paper in front of them. As an extension encourage your child to think of a word that starts with that sound.
Game 2: Say a word that starts with one of the letter sounds. Your child then runs to the sound they think is at the beginning of the word. If they run to the wrong sound just say the word again with an emphasis on the initial sound.
Middle sounds- Play as above but ensure the word you say has the sound you want to practise in the middle. It is best to use simple CVC (consonant, vowel, consonant) words like cat, pin, etc. Middle sounds are the hardest for children to hear so it is probably best to start with initial sounds, then end sounds, then middle sounds.
End sounds- Play as above but ensure the word you say has the sound at the end of the word.
As I mentioned Isabel loves this game and we recently played it while practising digraphs (two letters that make up one sound) it took a while for her to feel confident as we were practising ‘ai’ and ‘ee’ which are normally found in the middle of a word so she really had to think. I made sure the other two corners were letters she knew but they also had to be middle sounds otherwise it would have been too confusing. One tip I have would be to have a list of words with the sounds you want to practise written down as it can be hard to think of enough words while under pressure!! We usually play this game inside, but if you want it to be more active you can easily take it outside and chalk the letters on the ground, fence or trees in the garden.
As always I hope you enjoy the game and have fun!