Although young children are like sponges when it comes to language, learning how to read and write what they can say is a tricky process, but phonics games smooth out the transition from verbal to written words, all while making learning fun for kids.
A good phonics game can turn children into skilled code-crackers without the burden of seriousness often imposed in a classroom environment, helping to ease their minds and enhance information retention.
If you’d like to help your students tighten their grasp on the English language in a fun and accessible way, check out the 11 best phonics games for the classroom, listed below.
1. iWin Phonics Game
Using Uno as a foundation, the iWin Phonics Game takes the general principles of the beloved card game and applies them entirely to phonics.
While it’s incredibly fun, the whimsy of this game isn’t the only thing that helps to engage children.
The true genius of iWin is how it introduces competition, transforming “right and wrong” to “winning and losing”.
It’s in children’s nature to be highly competitive, and this game speaks their language, reframing phonics as a contest, encouraging them to apply themselves, not just for the pursuit of knowledge, but for the glory of winning!
It might be a little combative for some teachers and children out there, but as it’s suitable for up to 8 players, no one ever loses alone, which makes it far easier to digest for young learners.
2. Aizweb CVC Word Game
The CVC Word Game is a very simple concept that involves matching words to pictures, but with letters printed on pop bubble fidget toys, it adds a sensory element to the game while simultaneously helping kids remain focused.
With relatively short attention spans, it’s common for the mind of a child to wander, and shortly thereafter follow the hands, searching for something to play with, but this game makes the educational resource itself the fidget-friendly item.
In light of this, even when a child starts to lose focus, they’re still engaging with the educational material, increasing the chances of long-term information retention.
3. Gamenote Magnetic Fishing Game
It doesn’t get more fun than this phonics fishing game in which children use little magnetic fishing rods to retrieve sight words from the “pool”.
The rules are simple so as not to distract from the learning process… you say a word, then the children have to find the fish with the chosen word printed on its side and “hook it” out of the pool.
If they’re correct, they may keep the fish, and if they’re wrong, they have to let the little fishy go. Whoever has the most fish when the last one is caught wins the game.
This game is suitable for children as young as three, but bear in mind that they’ll have to have an understanding of basic phonics and reading to really engage with it — It’s more of a memory consolidation game than it is an educational experience.
4. Phonics Dominoes
Phonics Dominoes is exactly what it says on the tin (or tub anyway): a bunch of domino-esque tiles with various blends and digraphs that children can use to formulate words and sentences.
The simplicity of this game is what makes it such a good classroom tool, as children can dig straight in with very little explanation from you, ensuring the majority of the lesson is active and hands-on.
As you can use the 84 dominoes to make literally hundreds of different words, it’s a fantastic way to expand vocabularies without boring children with blackboard tactics of yesteryear.
And as there aren’t any rules per se, you can create games to suit your students, be it solo working, working in groups, or whole class learning.
5. Carson Dellosa Word Wheels
These word wheels are amazing! Each one is personified as a face with an open mouth and a pair of letters on their cheek.
Children then spin the wheel behind the faces until the letters in the mouth match up with the ones on their cheeks to form a word.
You can pin these faces up on a notice board and have multiple children spinning wheels simultaneously, or you can challenge individual children to tackle all the faces on their own, whichever best suits your class and lesson plan.
6. Learning Resources Alphabet Soup
Alphabet Soup is a rudimentary sorting game for young learners picking up the basics of letter and word associations, and kids will have such a blast with it!
The goal is to sort all the picture cards into their corresponding cans of soup, each of which is marked by a single letter.
The picture cards also have the related word printed on the back, so children can easily check if they get stuck.
Of course, this could lead to some sneaky cheating, so you may want to cover these words up during certain classroom activities.
7. Excellerations Phonics Spelling Game
The Excellerations Phonics Spelling Game was developed specifically for classroom applications, which is why it arrives with 12 game boards.
Hand them out to your pupils, and you can all play together.
Conceptually, it’s nothing complex, so your class can get straight down to business matching letter tiles to the letters on the boards to form words.
And once they’ve completed the boards, they simply pass them on, so everyone gets a fresh board and new wordy challenges to work through.
8. Coogam Sight Words Fly Swatter Game
This super fun game is similar in concept to the magnetic fishing game discussed earlier, but this time, rather than fishing words out of a pool, you’re swatting flies with words on their bellies.
Teachers choose a word from the list provided in the game box, then students, each with a little fly swatter, must locate and swat the fly card with the same word.
The first to swat the fly gets to keep it, and at the end of the game, the player with the most flies wins.
The one caveat here is that some kids will inevitably choose to swat their classmates rather than flies, and although they’re small, the swatters could hurt someone if wielded with enough force.
9. Learning Resources Pop For Blends
This might just be our favorite phonics game of all!
Pop arrives as a colorful striped popcorn box, and inside are a number of different letters, blends, families, or words on the back of popcorn picture cards.
Which lexical entity you’ll find in the box depends on the difficulty level of the Pop game you choose. We’ve linked to the blends version here, but the others are just as fantastic.
The idea is that children pick out a piece of popcorn from the box and try to sound out the blend on the back.
If they get it right, they keep the popcorn, but if they get it wrong, it goes back into the box for someone else to try and claim later on.
Oh, and there’s one aspect we’ve yet to mention… the POP cards!
Sometimes, when kids turn over a popcorn card, instead of a blend (or another linguistic element), they’ll say the word POP.
This means that the student has to return all their collected kernels to the box and start over again.
The POP card is then discarded, as for the game to end, all the kernels must be claimed.
10. Learning Resources Vowel Owls Sorting Set
This adorable game is similar to Alphabet Soup, but in our opinion, it’s a little more effective as it’s more focused.
Rather than tackling the entire alphabet, children are challenged to learn just the vowels, as well as various words.
Each of the owl pots is marked with a different vowel, and kids have to sort a collection of picture cards into the correct ones.
It’s a super accessible and fun way for young learners to approach the often daunting concept of vowels, and by extension, consonants.
11. Torlam CVC Word Builder
Last but not least, we have a kindergarten-friendly word builder set.
It can be hung on a notice board, wall, or door, and folds into a prism shape so you can easily hold it while teaching your class.
The board has eight transparent pouches, four larger ones for picture and word cards, and four smaller ones to label where the different card types go.
Each picture card shows a three-letter object, and then the children must assemble the word by placing letters in the following three pouches.
Once complete, you can flip the picture card to find a new illustration that requires the children to change one of the letters in the pockets.
Once they’re more advanced and no longer need the visual prompts, you can do away with the picture cards and use all four main pouches for spelling more complicated words, meaning you’ll get a lot of use out of this game.
There you have it — 11 phonics games that make learning the basics of language both fun and easy.
There’s something here for a variety of age groups and skill levels, so with any luck, you’ll now have a few ideas for each of your classes.
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