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Phoneme Segmentation/Blending Games and Activities

These are a range of activities you can use with your students to review and introduce new
phonemes. They use a variety of skills and are fun! Some are more suitable for smaller
classes i.e. the ones that involve a lot of movement or taking the students outside the
classroom but there are many that can be used with larger classes. Try them and select the
ones that work best for you.
Make Like a Robot
Ask the children to pretend [hype it up] they are robots with their arms [from the elbow]
pointing forward. For each phoneme they shift their arms, alternately, up or down and say the
sound at the same time i.e. segmenting, e.g. m-o-p. For the blending swing an arm across
their chest and say the word e.g. mop.
Jump Along with Phonemes
Mark the floor or sidewalk with a series of 12 lines (number of lines is changeable).Children
begin by standing in a row ALONG the first line. The teacher calls out a word like "top". Then
the teacher says "go". Children jump forward the number of phonemes in the word. If the child
is correct (in this case, he has jumped forward 3 rows), he keeps his place. If incorrect, he
moves back to the beginning line. The game ends when all children have passed the 12th line
and everyone applauds their success.
It is important to note that the children that have the most difficult time learning phonemes
need the most practice. Ending the game after the first or 5th child succeeds puts the child
with weaker skills at a greater disadvantage.
Tap Along with Phonemes
Children sit at their desks. Teacher calls out word and children tap on their desks the number
of phonemes in the word. Teacher prompts children to announce the number of phonemes in
the word. Teacher then announces the number of phonemes in the
word. Teacher sounds out the phonemes, separating them vocally. Children repeat the
sounding out of that words phonemes. Repeat with next word. Game ends at teacher's
discretion.
Its In the Bag!
This game can be played in a small group with the teacher, with pairs of children in a center,
or at home with a parent. Give each child a small brown paper bag with several objects inside.
Have the child peek inside and select one item but she will not show the object to the other
players. The child holding the bag then segments the name of the object and the other child
guesses what the object is by blending the sounds back together to make the word. Take the
object out, show it, segment the object name again together, and set it to the side. The
children take turns segmenting the name of an object in their bag for the other player(s).
(Suggested items to get you started: fork, pen, shell, sock, bottle, brush)
Rubber Band Stretch
Teacher models with a large rubber band how to stretch out a word as the word is said.
/mmmmm/aaaaaaaa/nnnnnnnnnn/ Teacher models with stretched out band how to bring
rubber band back to original length and says the word fast: /man/ Children pretend to stretch
rubber bands as they say the sounds in different words.

A Song to Teach Phonemic Segmentation (to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little
Star)
Listen, listen to my word,
Then tell me all the sounds you heard: mop
/m/ is one sound
/o/ is two,
/p/ is last in mop its true.
Thanks for listening to my word
And telling all the sounds you heard!

I Spy
1. Teach the students the following rhyme (write it on the board and have them repeat it several
times):
I spy,
With my little eye,
Something beginning with __
2. Explain the game. The teacher will say the rhyme and then call out a sound. Students must
then think of something in the classroom that begins with that particular sound e.g. if the
teacher says d, the students may put their hands up and say door or desk.
3. It may help if objects in the room have been labelled in English, to remind students of the
names of things.
4. Again, only use the sounds that have been taught already to reinforce previous learning.
5. Variations: change the rhyme to ending with eg something ending with n pen; get
students to take turns calling out the rhyme, rather than the teacher.
Lingo Bingo
1. Give each student, or pair of students, a bingo card, which the teacher has prepared earlier.
These must use only the sounds that have been already taught.
2. The teacher reads out individual sounds (phonemes) and if the student has that sound on
their bingo card, they cross it out.
3. Once a student has all their sounds crossed out, they call out BINGO.
4. The student then needs to read out the sounds on their card, while the teacher checks that
they are correct. If so, that student has won the game.
5. If there is time, students can swap cards and play again; this time, the teacher reads the
sounds out in a different order.
6. Variations: use blends, full words, high frequency words, ask students to find the first or last
sound; to make the game faster, students can shout BINGO if they get a row crossed out;
students can make up their own cards from the word or sound wall, which saves the teacher a
job!
Jump and Twirl Spelling

1. Divide the students into 3 even lines (same number of students), either outside or in the
classroom if you have space.
2. Read out a vocabulary word that they have been learning (either topic or phonics related,
depending upon the age of the students and what you have been doing with them).
3. The first student in each line then moves forward and has to spell out the word, jumping one
pace for a consonant and one twirl for a vowel eg if the word is pet, they will jump, shouting
the sound p, then twirl shouting e and jump shouting t. They should end up at the other
side of the room. If they get it right, their group gets a point and the scores are kept on the
board.
4. This continues with a new word each time until every student has had a go.
5. The team with the most points at the end wins.
Guess the Word
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.

Draw a monkey on the board and a bunch of bananas.


Think of a word which uses only the sounds that have been taught so far eg pat.
Draw three dashes on the board eg _ _ _
Get the students to guess which sounds are in this word. If they say p, write in the p eg p _
_
If the sound they guess is not in the word eg b, then rub out one of the bananas.
The aim of the game is for the students to guess the word before the monkey loses all of his
bananas.
Variations: for high ability, Phase 2 classes, this game can be played to reinforce topic
vocabulary.
NB Make sure Year 1 students say the sounds rather than the letters.
Chinese Whispers

1. Divide the class into teams of 10-15 students.


2. Line the teams up.
3. Give the first student in each team a piece of paper with one of the phonics sounds that you
have taught them eg s
4. The student then whispers the sound to the next student in their team and so on to the end of
the line.
5. Accuracy is more important than speed, but the winning team is the first team to pass the
sound correctly down through the team and the last student can either whisper it to the
teacher or write it down.
6. Variations: use blends, full words, phrases or tongue twisters to make it more difficult for
higher levels.
Hop Phonics
1. Draw a large square on the ground in chalk.
Eg
s o
m a
p i

t
p
n

2. Write a sound that you have already taught in each square.


3. Make the first and third columns consonants, and the middle column vowels.
4. Each student takes it in turns to jump across the square, calling out the sounds as they land,
and saying the whole word once they jump off eg s a d sad
5. More than one square can be used if the class is too big.
6. It does not matter if the students cannot spell a real word; it is the sound recognition that is
being practiced.

7. Variations: use blends like st in the 1 st and 3rd columns, or ea in the 2nd column, add
columns, give the students the word you want them to spell.
Rhythm and Rhyme
Singing songs and nursery rhymes and playing clapping and rhythm games are fun ways to
develop reading readiness. Try chanting silly sentences like Hickety, Pickety Bumble Bee. Can
you touch your nose for me? Children really enjoy this type of activity. There are many
inexpensive childrens cassettes and videos on the market that encourage rhythm and rhyme.

Phoneme Fun
Phonemes are the individual sounds that make words. Children need to be able to hear and
manipulate these sounds before they can begin to read. Ask the children to count the syllables in
a wordbut-ter-fly(3 sounds). Try counting individual sounds in a wordf-l-a-g(4 sounds).
Say It Without
Ask the children to say a word such as football. Then ask them to say it without the foot (ball)
without the ball (foot)without the f (ootball). You can make it more challenging. Say plate.
Ask the child to say it without the pl (ate) Now say it without the p (late).
Sounds in Print
Phonological awareness is the next step to begin to read. Children need to understand that there
are symbols (letters) to represent the sounds we speak and that these sounds blended together
make up words. When teaching the children phonological awareness, refer to the letter by its
sound rather than by its letter name. Referring to it by its sound is less confusing because in
several cases the letter name such as y does not correspond to the sound it makes. The letter
names can be taught later, after the sounds are learned.
Two At A Time
When teaching the sounds, use the lower case letters and introduce 2 consonant sounds at a
time such as b and t. This way the children can compare how they look and sound. Use small
objects or picture cards to match to the sound. Next introduce the sound of short a with objects
and picture cards.
Ready to Blend
Once the children have mastered two consonant sounds and one vowel sound, its time to blend.
Here is an effective way to teach blending. On a dry-erase board, draw three lines _ _ _. On each
line print a sound: b a t . Have the child say each sound, pausing after each one: b , a , t . Repeat
several times, pausing after each sound. Next connect the lines: b a t and ask the child to say the
sounds again but this time by holding each sound as they move to the next. Repeat several times
a little faster until the sounds are blended and the child can read the word! Try this method again
using the sounds: t a b. As more sounds are learned, try blending them into new words, using the
3 line method.

Change A Sound
This activity is a terrific way to manipulate phonemes and blend them into new words. Using
plastic lowercase letters, letter cards, or dry erase board, ask the child to spell a 3 letter word
using the sounds he has learned. For example: bat . Ask him to change bat to cat by only taking
away one sound and replacing it with another. Then change cat to cap, then cap to cop, etc.

Language Experience
Ask the child to dictate sentences while you write them on a poster. Make word cards using
several words from the sentences. Ask the child to match the word card to a word on the poster
and glue it on top of the word.
Concentration
Place six pairs of word cards (or whatever skill you are working on) face down in a pocket chart.
Child turns over two cards at a time to see if they match. Continue until all cards have been
matched. This should be played in groups. You will need one set of cards for each group.
Memory
Place six sight-word cards in a row on the table. The children read the words and place them face
down one by one. Teacher says the words one by one and the group must find it from memory.
You will need one set of cards for each group.
Whats Missing?
Print 5 words on a dry-erase board. Turn it around so the children cannot see them and erase one
word. Show the board to the children again and they must say what word is missing.

Cloze Exercise
Print 5 sentences on a magnetic dry-erase board with one word missing from each sentence
represented by a blank line. Display 5 magnetic word cards. The children must fill in the blanks
with a word that makes sense.
Musical Words
Place word cards in a large circle on the carpet. Start the music and students will slowly walk
around the circle. Stop the music and each student will stand by a card. The teacher says 2
words. Children standing by those words will sit in the middle. Continue the game and the next
two children will change places with those in the middle so no one is out for long.
Find the Word First
Place a row of word cards face up in the middle of the carpet. Have two teams each sit in a row
on both sides of the word cards. (about 6 feet back)
The teacher says a word. One player from each team tries to find the word first and puts it in
their teams basket. The team with the most cards wins.
Bonus Basket Game
Divide the class into two teams. Show a word to the player on the first team. If the student reads
it correctly, her team gets a point. Then the child will throw the ball in the basket. If the ball goes
in, he/she scores an extra point for his/her team!
Mystery Word
Place a mystery word or object under a stuffed animal or in a mystery box. Place word cards face
down on the carpet. Each child chooses a word and reads it to the class and keeps the card.
When all children have had a turn, look at the mystery word and see who has the word or object
that matches it.
Roll a Word
Use phonics dice to roll out a consonant, a vowel and another consonant. Sound out the word and
write it.

Cross the Swamp (or desert, forest, etc.)


Place several hula-hoops and stuffed alligators, birds, etc. on the carpet to look like a swamp.
Place word cards at the edge of the swamp. Say a word and the child will write it on a dry-erase
board. Then the child can cross the swamp to find that word card by stepping in the hula-hoops.
Moveable Alphabet
Give partners several letters from a moveable alphabet including a vowel. Let them manipulate
the letters to make words and list them on a dry-erase board. See who has the longest list.
Scavenger Hunt
Hide picture cards or objects around the room. Give partners a word list and small basket or bag
to collect the things on their list. See who can cross off their entire list.
Memory List
Show 10 pictures or objects and name them. Then turn the cards over or hide/cover the objects.
Students can work in small groups to list as many items as they can remember.
Missing Letter
Give each small group a pile of 8 letters. Write a word on the chalkboard but leave out a letter
ch_p . Say, I want that word to say chip. The first child from each group brings the teacher the
correct letter. Continue until all letters have been used.
Word Wall Chant
Give children word cards to match to words on the word wall. When matched, everyone chants
the spelling. b-a-t spells bat.

Compare a Word
Choose a volunteer to point to and read a new word that has been added to the word wall such
as hop. Compare hop to other words. It has 3 letters like. It begins like. It ends like.
Word Wall Rhymes
Find words that rhyme with sit. Find words that rhyme with nut. Etc.
Partner Spelling
Have partners choose a word from the word wall for each other to spell on the dry-erase board.
Have them check each other to see if they are correct.