Does the thought of teaching phonics bore you? I am here to tell you that phonics can be fun! I have been contemplating the question, “What is my favorite subject to teach?” I came to the surprising realization that it is phonics.
Phonics and learning to read opens a whole new world to children. When they are exposed to the world of print, new doors open for them at every turn. They are able to begin the learning process on their own. I have seen it as the first step to independence in my children. Watching that “light-bulb moment” as it all begins to click is priceless. It is probably one of the most cherished memories of my homeschooling adventure so far. I love to read and fostering a love of reading in my kids is one of my goals in life. It takes lots of patience and praise as a parent to motivate and spur on our little ones during this process. I have found some ways to make phonics time more fun over the years. Here are some of my suggestions:
1. Go at your own pace – If you are using a structured curriculum, it is ok to slow down or speed up as you feel is necessary. With my oldest son, he became bored easily with the slow pace of his kindergarten phonics curriculum. I remember him asking me one day, “Mama, when are we going to move on? I already know all the sounds of the letters.” He was ready to move on, but I was hesitant to move him forward afraid he was going to miss something. He read early and was highly motivated. Along came son #2 and he was definitely not motivated like big brother to read. His attitude was, “if they can all read to me, why should I read it myself?” I had to take a step back and look at his giftings and bents and I realized he is more math minded. I had to slow down my reading curriculum for him and he stopped resisting me and became more cooperative.
2. Use games -
Sometimes taking a break from drills and reading and adding in a few phonics game can be a great way to liven up your phonics/reading time. The games above are some examples of ones I have procured to use with my kids. You could easily make these on your own. The game on the top left is a tower building game. Take paper cups and write sight words or blends that you want your child to learn and as he/she reads the word, allow him/her to build a tower with the words. You can use a timer and see how fast they can do it, trying to beat their own time each round. The game on the top right uses small paper plates with vowels written on them. You make donut shapes and write beginning and ending sounds on the donuts so that when placed over the vowels they make words. The pictures on the bottom row are of a file folder game. You use post it notes and write beginning consonants, vowels, ending blends and digraphs on them. The child uses these to make words on the bottom line.
When my boys were learning to read I would save a page or two for them to read with Daddy when he got home once a week or so. He enjoyed seeing the progress and it encouraged me to have someone comment on how much they were improving. They liked having a different “teacher” to read to and it gave me a break as well. I also let my kids read to their younger siblings. They started out “reading” books that I had read to everyone so much that everyone basically had them memorized. Here are some fun ones to get you started. Llama Llama Red Pajama, Peek-A-Boo, Goodnight Moon, Tiny Turtles (shown in photo).
4. Substitute fun books from the library -
Some kids take readily to the readers we use with phonics programs, but most kids prefer to have a choice. When my kids reached the point that they could read short vowel words I began taking them to the library and letting them pick out a few titles from the library’s selection. Using their interests as a guide I tried to help them pick titles about subjects they liked. My oldest was motivated by mystery books. He is in the 5th grade now and still gravitates toward that genre. My middle child has always loved the Magic School Bus Books. We found out that they now have Magic School Bus Chapter Books. My son was thrilled! He has just completed his second chapter book and we are so grateful to have found something he likes to read.
5. Consider magazines and You Tube –
Even my reluctant reader likes to thumb through magazines. There is just something about the glossy pages, the great photos,etc that screams, “read me!” to a kid. We have incorporated this type of media into our reading time to give us a little bit of variety at times. I also have found some fun videos of people reading aloud favorite books on You Tube. Just do a search of your favorite titles and you will likely find some nice read alouds to add to your repertoire. These can be assigned to the kids after you preview them or you can have your kids listen to them during mealtime.
I hope that you can take some of these ideas and incorporate them into your homeschool to make phonics and reading time more fun! Remembering that reading skills aren’t developed overnight and having patience with my kids has helped me loosen up and have some fun with phonics in our house.
This post is part of a Blog Cruise over at the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog, Click on the graphic below to read more posts about others’ favorite subjects to teach.