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English Language Arts Blog

The home of Vocab Gal and other educational experts K–12 resources

September 7, 2023 ELA K-5, ELA Focus - Reading, ELA Resources - Games

5 Printable Phonics Games for Early Elementary Students

While there’s no quick fix for antsy young learners, I’ve gathered a special batch of FREE printable phonics games that’s sure to engage even the most reluctant students! Practice makes perfect, right? Well, practice makes progress when it comes to early readers reaching mastery. Keep reading to learn about and gain access to these five new printable phonics games.

printable-phonics-games-pdf

With the increasing interest in the Science of Reading, teachers have to take advantage of every spare instructional minute. When a new skill is introduced it should be systematically and purposefully reviewed for the next four to six weeks. The goal must be to teach to mastery rather than just exposure. Only then can students transfer these skills to new reading situations.

There are many ways students can practice newly taught skills. What better way to get kids excited about learning than with a fun game to play?

Phonics is the foundation of all other complex reading and writing skills, and therefore we should incorporate it into as many portions of our day (and year) as we can. Researchers have known for a long time that game play increases engagement, critical thinking and negotiation skills, creativity, teamwork, and sportsmanship.

 

So, grab the dice and bust out some crayons, because these printable phonics games will keep your students learning ALL year long.

 

No matter what kind of mood our pupils are in, we’ve got to be willing to pull out all the stops to get them mentally present in the classroom.

Five Printable Phonics Games for Early Elementary Students

Phonics Game #1: Phonics Land

Let’s start with a crowd pleaser! Similar to Hasbro® Candyland™, this one is sure to be a student favorite. With Phonics Land, students practice a variety of decoding skills while making their way from Blending Bay, past fun spots like the Vowel Volcano and Syllables Summit, all the way to Long o Lake.

RDG_DL_PhonicsLandGame_Thumb@2X

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To play, break students into groups of three to five students and give each group two dice, a game board, and an instruction sheet. Students take turns rolling the dice and moving that number of spaces on the game board. Wherever students land, they must read the word out loud within a minute. If students correctly decode the word, they get to stay on the new space. If they can’t, they must retreat back to the space they came from.

As a bonus, if students correctly identify one of the “pseudo” (or nonsense) words, they get to move forward two extra spaces!

Download the Phonics Land Game Boards for your elementary students now!

 

Phonics Game #2: Short Vowel Roll & Write

Perfect for younger kids (or kids who are young at heart), this second game will get your students practicing their short vowel decoding skills!

To play the Short Vowel Roll & Write Game, break students up into pairs and give them a game board, a die, and a vowel/dice key card. As you form pairs, assign one student to be Player A and the other to be Player B. With this game, each player will alternate rolling the die, figuring out the vowel that corresponds to the number rolled, and then identifying which word in their column can be completed with the vowel they rolled. The first player to completely and correctly fill out his or her column on the game board wins!

RDG_DL_RollWrtShrtVwlGame_Thumb_@2X

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There are two versions of this printable phonics game, which allows for differentiation. The first version of  Short Vowel Roll & Write Game includes images next to each incomplete word. For example, “p_t” has a picture of a pot next to it. These visuals give students clues about the words they are trying to create with the vowels they roll. Once the game has been completed, the two players can color in the images next to the words they correctly completed.

The second version of  Short Vowel Roll & Write Game includes a drawing component, because it does not include images next to the incomplete words. Players use vowels to create a variety of words. For example, a player could complete the word “p_t” with the letters a, e, i, o, or u. Once a player creates a word in their column, he or she draws a picture of that word; in other words, a player could choose to use the “e” he or she rolled to create the word “pet,” and then draw a boy with his pet dog. The sketches for each word should not be drawn until the game is complete and a winner has been “crowned.”

 

Phonics Game #3: Rainbows & Rainclouds

Get excited, teachers, because you know I’ve saved a good one for last!

This final game is a bit like a phonics version of Hasbro® Chutes and Ladders™. Students practice sounding out short a and short o words as they help a character make his way home. Your students will be laughing and decoding as they hope to hit rainbows (to move ahead) and avoid lightning bolts (which take them backwards).

RDG_DL_PhonicsRainbowsRainclouds_Thumb_@2X

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To play Rainbows & Rainclouds Phonics Game, break up students into groups of three to five players. Each group will need one die and a game board. During each turn, students roll the die and move forward the same number of spaces. They must then sound out whichever word they land on. If they land on a rainbow, they get to follow it to the connected space (woo hoo!). If they land on the lightning bolt, however, they have to go back to the space it points to—no pouting allowed!

The first player to reach the end wins! Simple enough for young kids to follow, this fast and easy game is a great way to enhance any phonics lesson!

Phonics Game #4: Roll 'Em

Engaging students in fun and effective phonics practice goes a long way. Wiley Blevins has created Roll’Em, a Letter Cube Game that can be used to target many skills throughout the year. Reuse the template anytime you want to give students practice with digraphs, prefixes, suffixes, and more. Great activity for your learning center!

printable phonics games

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How to play Roll’Em by Wiley Blevins:

(Players: 2–4)

1) The first player rolls all three cubes and reads the letters that land face up. He/She then tries to use the letters to form words that begin or end with th.
  • If one or more words can be formed, the player records the word(s) on paper.
  • If not, the next player takes a turn.
2) Players keep taking turns. (Different players may form the same words.) The first player to form five different words wins the game.
 

Phonics Game #5: Spin It!

Phonics instruction should be active, engaging, and thought-provoking. That’s what Wiley Blevins says and that is why he created this Review Spinner phonics activity. The Spin It! phonics game can be modified to support students in reviewing previously taught phonics skills. In this particular activity, Wiley has given you the directions for reviewing short vowels. Great activity for your learning center!

printable phonics games

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How to play Spin It! by Wiley Blevins:

(Players: 2–5)

1) The first player spins all three spinners. On a sheet of paper, the player writes the letters where the paper clips land in order: Spinner 1, first;

Spinner 2, second; Spinner 3, third.

  • If the letters form a word, the player says the word and writes it on his/her paper. Each word earns one point. Proper names, such as Sam or Pat, are allowed.
  • If the letters do not form a word, the next player takes a turn.
2) Players keep taking turns. (Different players may form the same words,) The first player to get 10 points wins the game. 

In Summary

Increasing opportunities to practice phonics skills that have been taught is important for students to reach mastery. As we have seen here, games are a perfect way to engage students, practice skills, and keep them coming back for more!