Teaching phonics is the cornerstone of first grade literacy instruction. Students are already exposed to individual letters and their sounds in kindergarten. They may have even begun blending sounds together to read CVC words. But, first grade is the year when students will begin reading longer, more complex sentences and paragraphs. And this is all due to the phonics instruction that they receive! You will need quality phonics resources to make this easier to do.
When I am preparing to introduce a new phonics skill to my students, I have a series of steps I like to follow! I am sharing those steps with you today. Each of the materials referenced in this post can be found in my year-long phonics bundle. This bundle includes all of the patterns and sounds you will need to teach, at a great discount!
Introduce the Letter, Sound, or Skill Explicitly
I like to present a poster with the new sound/pattern to my students at the beginning of a lesson. The poster has a picture of something that starts with that sound, as well as the letter that makes the sound. When I present the poster, we review the name of the letter, the sound it makes, and the picture that is shown. We also review posters from previous skills we have learned.
Complete Whole Group Sorts
After presenting the new skill to my students, we move into a whole group sort.
We sort cards into many categories:
- Words that have the sound we are learning today
- words that do not
- each part of a contraction
- matching word families
- common endings
I like to work in some segmenting and blending practice here by having students tap out the sounds on their fingers that they hear in each word. Tapping out syllables, tapping out endings they hear. The possibilities are endless.
Practice in Small Groups with Phonics Resources
After introducing and practicing the skill in a whole group, I will work on that skill in small groups for a series of days. The number of days that I work on the new phonics skill with different students depends on how quickly they retain it. Some groups will need to explicitly practice the new skill in isolation for several days. Other groups can practice for one day, and then start doing activities that mix in previously learned skills.
Most of the time, my small group activities or centers revolve around more sorts. They are a great activity for students to work together on and have vital conversations about why and how they would sort.
Transition Students to Independent Practice
Eventually, students will be ready to work independently with the sounds we have learned. Again, this will happen for some students faster than others. Worksheets, poems, sorts, and word lists for building and writing are all great center activities. These can be placed around your room during your literacy block for students to gain repeated exposure to phonics skills.
Some independent activities that I love include picture sorts, word sorts, building words, worksheets, and searching for words (this is a favorite) that emphasize the new pattern or phonics skill. These will sometimes be printables for each student, activities in their phonics notebook, or activities I keep in envelopes that can be used again and again.
Phonics Resources Bundle
All of the resources featured in this blog post are included in my year-long phonics bundle. Grabbing the bundle at the beginning of the school year and having all of the materials you need will save you time in planning your lessons this year. Additionally, having the materials at your fingertips for a variety of sounds makes it easy for you to differentiate your classwork this year based on your student needs.
Each of the sets in the bundle focuses on a different letter sound or pattern but includes the same materials so your students can expect to follow the same routines with each new sound. This makes it easy for you to transition students from one sound to the next in independent work. They will already know the directions for each activity.
You can grab the money-saving bundle here, and start growing your students as readers right off the bat this year!
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Additional Phonics Resources
Check out these other blog posts to learn more about how I teach phonics in first grade.
- How to Teach Phonics in the Primary Grades
- Easy Word Work Activites for Any Phonics Skill
- How to Fit It All In: A First Grade Schedule
3 Great Ways to Practice Blending and Segmenting
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