Alistair Bryce-Clegg's 5 Phonics Games and Activities

Childcare Activities

Alistair Bryce-Clegg’s 5 Phonics Games and Activities

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Research shows that the most effective way of teaching young children to make and read words is to teach phonics in a structured way. Phonics games and activities that help children to identify and distinguish sounds are a key part of this, because you can use things they already enjoy to improve motivation and engagement.

So for this post, we’ve teamed up with educational consultant Alistair Bryce-Clegg to bring you five of the best ideas from his book “50 Fantastic Ideas For Teaching Phonics“. Plus, we’re giving away a great selection of the equipment you need to get started with them!

Enter the competition below for a chance to win our phonics games and activities package, including magnetic letters and magnets, a soft football, adhesive Velcro, a Twister game, shakers, and felt-tip pens.


5 Phonics Games and Activities

1. Magnets in the Snow

What you need

  • Magnetic letters
  • Magnet
  • Fake snow (or polystyrene packing)
  • Water
  • Large container

What to do

  1. Make up the fake snow according to the instructions on the packet using the water.
  2. Hide the magnetic letters in the ‘snow’.
  3. Get the children to use a magnet to try and ‘catch’ a magnetic letter.
  4. If the children can name the letter sound, they can keep it.
  5. If not it goes back in the snow.

Taking It Forward

  • Ask the children to use the letters they have found to make a word.

What’s in it for the children?

The children are using their skills of recognition and phonic knowledge to identify and name initial sounds.

Phonics Games and Activities - Magnet Letters

2. Football Phonics

What you need

  • Goal post or goal mouth chalked onto a wall
  • Sticky tack or strong tape
  • Lightweight football
  • Sticky backed Velcro
  • Several 6 cm circles of card (laminated)
  • Whiteboard marker

What to do

  1. Write regular word endings such as at, ess, ob, ate, oam, op, ull on some of the laminated circles of card.
  2. Stick these around the goal mouth using the sticky tack or tape.
  3. Stick one laminated circle on the football, using the Velcro.
  4. On other laminated circles write a consonant diagraph or cluster e.g. ch, sh, th, wh, pr, spr, pl, cl etc. and affix these to the ball one at a time.
  5. The children take it in turns to ‘shoot’ the ball into the goal.
  6. Before they can kick it they have to make a word by marrying the card on the ball with one card around the goal.
  7. The sound on the ball can be changed after each goal is scored.

Taking It Forward

  • Make the sounds on the ball and around the goal more complex.
  • Increase the number of options to make it easier.
  • Decrease the number of options to make it harder.

What’s in it for the children?

You will be using a game that is very popular with a large number of children to help them to use their phonic knowledge more effectively.

Phonics Games: Football Phonics

3. Sound Twister

What you need

  • The game Twister (or make your own version)
  • Laminator
  • Velcro
  • Circles of paper smaller than the circles on the Twister mat

What to do

  1. Write the sounds that you want the children to use on the paper circles and laminate them.
  2. Stick one sound to each of the circles on the Twister mat using the Velcro.
  3. The sounds on the mat should match, so you place one sound on all of the green circles, a different sound on all of the red circles and so on.
  4. Add the sounds on the circles to the spinner board.
  5. The sound and the colour on the spinner board should now match the game mat.
  6. One player spins and says the sound out loud.
  7. The children on the mat must repeat the sound and then put their appropriate body part on the correct part of the mat.

Request a copy of your free Wesco Catalogue

Wesco Catalogue


Taking It Forward

  • Make the game harder by changing the complexity of the sounds that you use.

What’s in it for the children?

The children are having the opportunity to learn and consolidate their phonic knowledge in a fun way.

Phonics Games and Activities - Twister

4. Give me a …

What you need

  • A list of familiar words that the children will be able to blend and segment
  • Pom-poms or shakers
  • This is one of the phonics games that’s great for outdoors!

What to do

  1. Split the class into two groups.
  2. Tell them that they are going to be cheerleaders. Let them practise with their pom-poms and shakers.
  3. An adult acts as the caller for their team.
  4. The teams take it in turns to call out the individual sounds of a word, followed by the word itself.
  5. The team that gets the most right and shouts the loudest is the winner.

Taking It Forward

  • Make the words and their spellings more complex.

What’s in it for the children?

The children will be listening to sounds, remembering them, repeating them and using them to create words.

maracas-activity

5. Wanted!

What you need

  • Paper or card to make ‘Wanted’ posters
  • Pens and crayons

What to do

  1. Tell the children that you are going to create some ‘Wanted’ posters for master criminals who are on the loose.
  2. Before the children can make the posters they will need a description of the criminal.
  3. Work together to create a description of the character.
  4. All of the characteristics, likes and dislikes of the character you are describing have to start with the same sound. For example, ‘This is Barry the bad bank manager, he steals bread and bath taps. He lives on a boat with a badger who eats bananas.’
  5. Once you have a few ‘profiles’ the children can draw or paint their ‘Wanted’ posters.

Taking It Forward

  • Make the criteria rhyme instead of having the same initial sound.
  • Use blends at the beginning of words.

What’s in it for the children?

The children are experiencing the use of alliteration as well as having the opportunity to use their phonic knowledge to find words that start with the same sound.

Phonics Game and Activities: Wanted!


Alistair enjoyed a successful 10 year career as the Head teacher of three-form entry Infant school and Early Years Unit in Cheshire. Alongside his headship, he established a consultancy career specialising in the education of children in the Early Years.

Demand for his consultancy became so great that Alistair left headship and established ABC Does… (abcdoes.com).

Most of his time is spent supporting practitioners in their settings or delivering key notes and training, specialising all aspects of Early Years practice and management for both the maintained and non-maintained sectors nationally and internationally.

Alistair is also an award-winning author and product designer, whose work has been published in a number of books and magazines. Alongside support and training for a range of settings and schools, Alistair also works Internationally and with Local Authorities across the UK.

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