An important part of teaching children to read is phonics instruction. Teaching phonics is teaching children about the blending of letters to make certain sounds and also introducing them to the relationship between printed letters and spoken words. So we are not just dealing with multiple letter blends, but, also, understanding that the letter ‘d’ in the word dog makes the “d” sound.

There are a lot of activities that you can do with children to get them started on understanding how these sounds and these printed letters and words work together. As children are learning the relationship between letters and sounds, these fun activities will allow them to practice what they are learning.

Make a trail of alphabet footprints so you and the children can sing the alphabet song as you walk along the ABC path. Use some sturdy paper, like cardstock, and cut out 26 footprints and write one letter of the alphabet on each one. Secure them on the floor with packing tape in order, but, in a gently curving path. Step on the letters one at a time, in order, and sing each letter as you step on it. Now let the child try it and sing along with him as he walks the path.

For this activity, you will need two teams of kids. You are going to give each team a word and each team will have to come up with words that rhyme with their word. So let’s say you give the first team the word ‘let’ and the second team the word ‘sat’. They send each of their players up to the board to write a word that rhymes with their word. When every player has had a turn, the team with the most correct words wins.

A game that doesn’t require any materials and that is easy to play on the go is phonics I-spy. The player who is it will spy something and tell the other person or people that they see something that starts with a certain letter. Perhaps he sees a tree, he would say that he sees “something that starts with a ‘tttttt’”. And the other players have to guess what it is that he has spied. The one who figures it out then gets to spy something and make the others guess.

Understanding how letters and the sounds they make are the building blocks for the words that we speak is an important part of learning to read. When children learn phonics, they learn that the words we speak are made up of letters and that each letter has its own sound. And they also learn about groups of letters that are blended together to make sounds. When they begin to become familiar with all of these sounds, they can not only recognize familiar words, but, they also have clues to work out new words on their own.