Dos and Don'ts of Teaching Phonics

Teaching phonics can be overwhelming, especially for newer teachers, those of you who just changed grade level, or if you don't have a program in place. So, to help, let's talk the do's and don't of teaching phonics!


Let's go over the don'ts first!

Don't be Boring

Haha, right? Obviously! There are so many awesome ways to make phonics fun and engaging! Games, hands-on activities and more. Check out all my ideas here at this blog post called Fun Ways to Practice Phonics.

Here's a couple of  examples I do with my first and second graders. Magnetic letters seem basic but they love it! Pom poms, Play Doh, buttons and more are great ways to make it fun too!

Don't Skip the Review

If you have a phonics program at your school such as Fundations or Words their Way, they will incorporate review. If not, I'd recommend each week you spend at least some time over the course of 2-3 days (if you do a phonics lesson daily, which I also recommend) incorporate review words and patterns.

Don't NOT have a Plan

If you use a phonics program, a weekly and yearly schedule will be outlined for you. If not, you need to plan ahead because you will need to teach it systematcially (see the Dos section). Whitney at First Grade Roundup has a detailed explanation  of her weekly phonics plans at this blog post that might help you!


Use Different Modalities

This can be part of making it fun! Students can talk, speak, write, draw, use manipulatives (Wikki Stix, buttons, beads, Play Doh, Magnets, write letters in shaving cream and so much more!

Have a Plan and be sure to Review

I am not going to repeat myself here because I have given you some info in the Don't section. Check back up there.

Teach Syllabication Rules

Simply, make sure you teach students eventually (maybe first or second grade, but every learner is unique) syllabication rules so that they can decode multisyllabic words. Freebies are available to help you and students. Just search "syllables" or "syllabication" on TPT.

Teach it Systematically and Explicitly 

To teach systematically, it means using a specific scope and sequence. So for beginning readers who are prepared to learn short vowels, you don't want to teach assorted word families like -all or -ate . You start with short a words like cat and bat and move on. Lessons would start out easier and gradually became more complex, including review!

Teaching explicitly means you directly instruct students about letters first and words and spelling patterns. Use clear information and thinking aloud and to help students attain strategies for reading and writing.

Teach it in Multiple Ways

Yes, teaching your regular phonics lessons and addressing it during Guided Reading or small group instruction is essential, but, also use stories and other literacy activities to incorporate phonics activities and help students make connections!

Make it fun!

Head over to my blog post for a bunch of ideas, but you can also try the word riddles I create called Mystery Words! Here is an example of a freebie focused on double consonants. If you grab it, and can leave short feedback, I'd appreciate it! Clicking on the image will bring you to it on TPT.

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