Phonics activities for Kindergarten kiddos should be fun and exciting for young students as they learn how to read!
Phonics is the process of associating sounds and letters. Children will use phonics skills to sound out and blend letter sounds as they begin to read.
The phonetic awareness activities below are free or very affordable, engaging, and easy to add to your homeschool toolbox or classroom lesson plans. These activities will help kids gain confidence and become more interested in how words work.
Have fun and enjoy this exciting time as your children apply these skills to become fluent readers!
The activities are not in any particular order except for #1. It sets a strong foundation and environment for reading success.
Building phonemic awareness
1- The best activity for phonemic awareness is reading aloud to your children every day.
Hands down, reading aloud to your kids every day is the best action you can take to set emergent readers up for success!
It doesn’t have to be a book! You could point out signs, items on a menu, labels on food, or a headline in a magazine.
Another great opportunity from reading aloud is modeling or pointing out habits of good readers, such as using the cover or pictures to make predictions, reading from left to right, pausing it at the end of sentences, etc.
When life is busier than normal, audio books can be a great resource! There are tons of audio books and access to books being read aloud online.
Reading aloud every day builds interest and curiosity in how words work and is something Kindergarten teachers do throughout their day. It sends the message that reading is important and helps us to learn, laugh and grow!
2- Make up silly rhymes
Kids love to rhyme and the sillier, the better! You can make up silly rhymes at bath time, in the car, or anywhere. Kids can join in and help you come up with rhyming words. Nonsense words are fine at this point because the goal is hearing the sounds in different words.
Simple rhyming games such as “how many words can you think of that rhyme with hat” builds literacy skills that transfer to spelling, reading and writing.
There are many popular kids books that are full of rhyming words for a good reason. Rhyming helps emergent readers associate sounds and recognize patterns. It also increases their vocabulary.
Touch and spell phonic activities
3- Tactile phonics lessons
Tactile learning involves using the sense of touch to help understand a concept.
This could be as simple as tracing letters in the air and saying their speech sounds. To add an element of fun to it, you could give kids a pointer, or oversized pencil found in most dollar stores.
Magnetic letters can be found at a dollar store and put to good use in various learning activities.
They can be used on the fridge to spell out simple words, or they could be used on a cookie sheet for sorting and practicing sounds.
Foam letters or puzzles with letters and pictures also provide ways to practice touching, tracing and saying letter sounds out loud.
Kids can cut and paste pictures that begin with a target letter out of old magazines for another tactile phonics lesson.
4- Letter scavenger hunts
Letter scavenger hunts put a new spin on hide and seek! You could go on a scavenger hunt outside for “A” words, another time for “B” words and so on.
Obviously this is harder to do with some of the letters, such as “X, Q, Z” but you could come up with a different version of the game for those letters such as writing them on rocks to find.
This game could easily be moved indoors by finding objects that begin with a certain letter sound and collecting them in a bag or bowl.
Common phonic activities for Kindergarten
5- Letter name/sound of the week activities
Focusing on a letter and sound of the week builds excitement and interest.
If it is “Letter C week” then you might glue cotton balls on a letter C, bake or decorate cookies, color the letter C, find objects that begin with C, have cotton candy for a special treat, make a caterpillar craft, read a book with a lot of C sounds and so forth.
For “Letter P week” you might have a day to wear purple or pajamas, eat pineapple, decorate a P with pasta, play the piano and so forth.
The repetition from these activities helps children retain the information and apply it in new settings.
6- Kinesthetic phonics lessons
Anything that combines movement and learning is a win! Below are some ideas that combine phonics and movement.
- Write letters on a ball and have your child catch and say the sound of the letter closest to their thumb.
- Write letters with sidewalk chalk and have them run or jump on ones that you call out.
- Put sand or shaving cream in a pan and have students trace letters with their fingers and say the sounds.
- Put letters around a room and have your kids hit the letter with a cheap dollar store fly swat. (Kids love this!)
- Do some jumping jacks with a letter followed by a word, such as “A, Apple, B, Banana”
Get creative! There are all kinds of simple activities to move around and learn at the same time!
Building phonics skills with music
Music is proven to help kids with memorizing certain concepts.
Kids’ songs do not have to be specific to letters and sounds for them to grow as readers. The rhythm and patterns are just as beneficial.
It could be classics like Old MacDonald Had a Farm, Bingo, and Baby Shark or songs they enjoy from Popular cartoons or Youtube.
I bet you instantly started hearing those tunes just by reading the names, which proves how beneficial it is for learning and memorization!
Word associations with labels
8- Label common objects
Labeling common objects helps to make word associations.
Label your child’s stuffed animals with what type of animal they are and their name.
Label some common objects and see if your child can spell or recognize them in a different context.
Children will take notice! It’s why they quickly learn the meaning of words like “Exit” “Stop” and other words they commonly see in day to day activities.
This could become a game or activity where kids could help with the labeling.
9- Students as “Teachers” Strategy
Let your students become teachers over time when you “need some help” with familiar texts.
When you know your child is familiar with a sound or word, put your finger on it but pause and your child will usually fill in the word without missing a beat. If they don’t, you could ask for some assistance and prompt them a little with the beginning sound.
It would look like this: “The cat sat on a (point to the next word)…. “ “Can you help me with this word? It starts mmm…” Child: Mat!
This also works well with familiar reading so you could say “That Sam I Am, That Sam…” and point to the next words for your child to say them.
Kids typically find this amusing and game-like. If they act frustrated, try it again once they’ve built more confidence with phonics skills.
10- I Spy
The game of I Spy has stood the test of time!
It’s an activity that doesn’t require any preparation in advance and becomes a natural phonics game with “I Spy With My Little Eye Something that Start with A… ” or “I Spy with My Little Eye Something that Rhymes with…” for different spins on the game.
You could also use a printable version of the classic game!
Online phonics practice
11- Online phonics lessons
The Internet offers an abundance of resources for phonics games and review practice.
A great website for free (at the time of writing) phonics instruction is Starfall.com and a good Youtube channel is Alphablocks.
Reading Eggs requires a monthly subscription but it is a widely used software for practicing phonics skills.
Online resources are great for additional phonics practice but shouldn’t be used as a stand alone curriculum.
These fun and free phonics activities will help your Kindergarten student develop skills they need to become fluent readers!