Practical Phonics Activities

Practical Phonics Activities

It’s been half term this last week & although we haven’t been in school, I thought I would share a few of the phonics activities we enjoy. I don’t often share what we do as I rarely have the opportunity to take photos when I am immersed in the activity with the children, but I am often asked questions about what we do. My classroom is too small to have a designated area for it, unfortunately, but we obviously complete lots of activities to support the children’s development in this area.

We follow ‘Letters and Sounds’ in my school & my class (3 & 4 year olds) work on Phase 1 for most of the year. Of course, I also often have children who are ready for Phase 2 & we are encouraged to begin this phase at the end of the school year. The photos here are activities that have maybe been completed in previous years as well as more recent pictures. None of them are new ideas & lots are games taken directly from the Letters and Sounds scheme…


I Spy Games

It takes a long time for the children to be able to hear the sounds in words & lots of the games in Phase 1 are designed to support children develop this skill. The game, ‘I Spy’ seems to have been around forever & is such an easy game to play. I’ve found that just providing a few objects to select from when playing helps, in the early stages. I might only start with 3 objects on a tray to begin with – & of course it’s important that they know what these objects are called!

I spy... from Rachel (",)


Matching Initial Sounds

I prefer to use real objects but sometimes it’s not possible, so I use pictures instead.

Matching Initial Sounds from Rachel (",)


Creating Simple Words

If you don’t have any magnetic boards, cheap baking trays work just as well.

Creating words with magnetic letters on a baking tray - from Rachel (",)

Simple phoneme frames are useful for this too (sorry for the out-of-focus photo, I can’t find the others at the moment)…

Using phoneme frames from Rachel (",)

If you’d like a copy of my phoneme grids (cvc & ccvc), you can download them here…

cvc: cvc grids from Rachel (“,)

ccvc: ccvc grids from Rachel (“,)


CVC words on tin cans

Cheap resources!

cvc words with magnetic letters on tin cans - from Rachel (",)

Word Families

Word families from Rachel (",)


Matching Letters

I like the children to see real handwriting as well as printed letters, so this was a really simple activity to set up…

Matching letters from Rachel (",)


Magnetic Letter Hunt

… for specific letters, letters from names, letters to sort etc, etc

Magnetic letter hunt from Rachel (",)


Letters & Light Play

These acrylic letters were bought from Cosy a couple of years ago & are fab to link with light play…

On the OHP

Letters on the OHP from Rachel (",)

On the Lightbox 

Letters on the lightbox from Rachel (",)


Bottle Top Words

So many examples of this on Pinterest! We’ve used them to create simple cvc words.

Simple phonics with bottle tops from Rachel (",)


Capital Letter Recognition

One of my little girls was working on recognising capital letters as she was confident with lower case & I set this up after seeing something similar on Pinterest.

Capital letter recognition from Rachel (",)


Phonics Cups

Again, there are lots of examples of this on Pinterest. These particular ones are also for simple cvc words.

Phonics Cups - cvc words... from Rachel (",)


Tracing Letters

I used a whiteboard pen on a mirror in this case, but of course simple letters on paper would do the same thing!

Tracing letters from Rachel (",)

Here I used chalk & left a space for the letter to be created independently at the side of it.

Chalkboard letters from Rachel (",)


Creating Letter Shapes

… with loose parts.

Creating letter shapes with loose parts - from Rachel (",)


Rhyming Basket

Rhyming is a big part of Phase One. I loved the way The Imagination Tree presented her rhyming activity & got this idea from there.

Rhyming Basket from Rachel (",)


Alphabet Stones

I varnished letter stickers to these stones – lowercase on one side, & capital letters on the other…

Alphabet stones from Rachel (",)


Previously Shared Photos

The following photographs are ones I’ve previously shared – either here on my blog, Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter


Alphabet Butter Beans

I used a permanent marker to write the letters on the butter beans…

Alphabet butter beans... from Rachel (",)

Creating CVC Words

Junior Scrabble letters are great for this as they are lower case.

Making cvc words from Rachel (",)

Phase One Socks & Shakers Game

Phase 1 Socks & Shakers game from Rachel (",)

Letter Stamps

Most of the children were just playing with these, but a few were able to sound out simple cvc words.

Play dough phonics - from Rachel (",)

The stamps intended for use with ink were not ideal with play dough as the little rubber pieces started pulling off after lots of use.

Using letter stamps from Rachel (",)

Name Recognition Activities

Letters written with permanent marker on glass nuggets (it was necessary to put a little varnish over these after a while, as the letters were rubbing off).

Name recognition activity from Rachel (",)

Finding the correct letters to make their names & then using fine-motor skills to decorate them…

Name recognition & fine motor fun from Rachel (",)

If you’d like a copy of my letter outlines, they are here: Letter outlines from Rachel (“,)

Hunting for letters from their names…

Hunting for letters from their names - from Rachel (",)


Letter Hunt

Simple hunt in rainbow rice.

Letter Hunt in Rainbow Rice from Rachel (",)

Silly Soup

This was obviously from Halloween, but it works just as well with a simple saucepan!

Halloween Phonics Game - 'Silly Soup'... from Rachel (",)


Alphabetical Order

This was not something I asked this little girl to do. She was playing with the letters & told me she knew the alphabet. When I gave her the baking tray, she chose to place the letters in order, checking them as she went along…

Alphabetical order from Rachel (",)

Fine Motor & Phonics

Fine-motor and phonics fun from Rachel (",)

Look at how one little girl made the word ‘Juliet’…

Phonetic spelling of 'Juliet' - from Rachel (",)

Phonics & the iPad

I shared this post back in August after an ICT Consultant used the iPad to support some phonics work…

iPad and Phonics - from Rachel (",)



Handwriting often links in with phonics activities & I provide lots of opportunities for this.


Pattern Making

The pattern cards I shared with you in my Bonfire Night post are popular & are free to download from there if you wish a copy.

Mark making with water and cotton buds on chalkboards... from Rachel (",)

Simple Letter Writing

We use our fingers (or brushes/cotton buds etc) to make marks & attempt to write letters in various mediums as it helps those who don’t yet have finger strength or much control with a pencil. Here are a few examples of the mediums we might use…

Writing Letters with fingers, brushes etc - from Rachel (",)


Hope you found some of these useful.

Thanks for reading!


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– Rachel (“,)



  1. This is such a fantastic post Rachel with so many great ideas. This is the stage my students are at so will definitely try some of these at school soon! Keep up the good work 🙂

    • Thanks, Lauren! 😀

  2. so many awesome ideas currently working on recognizing what sounds go with what letters we will try a few of these ideas for sure
    come see us at

    • I will head over & look at your blog, Angie. Thanks for the comment! (“,)

  3. Wow! What a beautiful collection of phonics activities! You have so many great ideas – I can’t wait to start implementing with my son 🙂

    We just started working with salt trays recently and I love the variations you showed for writing practice 🙂 My son haated sensory activities I set up for him with shaving foam when he was smaller. I’m curious to see if he’d like them now for some pre-writing work 🙂

    Thanks for sharing all of your ideas – I’m pinning and sharing on facebook!

    • Thanks, Yuliya! 😀
      I hope your son enjoys some of the activities!
      I’m going to pop over & look at your blog now 😉

  4. That’s a colourful interesting way to practice language….Thanks Rachel for sharing your ideas.

    • You’re welcome, Uma (“,)

  5. Excellent Ideas! I’m teaching my 4 year old CVC word building & could use some! Would love to see your posts in the Practical Mondays Link Up:)

    • Thanks, Swapna! I will take a look at the Link Up 🙂

  6. Fab ideas! Which kind of varnish do you use to cover/protect the letters on the glass nuggets?

    • Hi Alesha. I just used clear nail varnish – you might need to reapply it after a while 🙂

  7. I love it, is an easy and quick way to learn.

    • Thank you! 🙂

  8. That was a really helpful post. Thanks, Rachel!

    • You’re welcome, Charla! 🙂

  9. Can I ask where you got your lowercase acrylic letters – you mentioned cosy? I’m not sure what store/site that is. Do you have more info please? Thanks for all the great ideas!

    • Hello!
      This is the site: – although I’ve no idea if they still sell the letters 🙂

  10. i love it…..

    • Thank you! ☺️

  11. Thank you so much for this post. It is very useful and interesting. For our kid, these kinds of activities are very important.

    • You’re welcome! 🙂


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