Phonics for 3rd Grade

What is Phonics?

Child reading a book.

Phonics refers to the ability to learn the individual sounds in spoken language and map those sounds to specific written letters in the English language. Students who have strong phonics skills are able to connect individual sounds with letters and use those sounds to read words. (Definition from University of Oregon)

In 3rd grade, readers will be able to read multisyllabic and irregularly spelled words. They will know the 6 syllable types and be able to apply them when they are breaking words down. Third graders can apply word analysis skills to read grade appropriate words, including using the meaning from common Greek and Latin roots and affixes.

What Does it Look Like?

What is phonics and why is it important for your child to read?

Help your child sound out a tough word.

Practice Activities

Looking for the Smaller Words: Help look for smaller words the child knows when they come to a word that is unfamiliar. This can help the child decode the unfamiliar word. For example, if the child comes to the word “exclaimed”, help them cover the “ex” and ”ed” revealing only “claim". Next, cover “claim” and work to decipher the other parts. Once they know each part, put the word back together and read.

Change the Meaning with Prefixes and Suffixes (Affixes): Notice when you or the child comes to a word with a prefix or suffix and pause to discuss it. Isolate the word and break it down into the base word and prefix or suffix (e.g., nonfiction is "non" and "fiction"). Talk about the meaning of the base word and the prefix or suffix (e.g., “non” means not and “fiction” means invented or imagined). Talk about how the meaning of the word changes when combined (e.g., nonfiction means not imagined). Think of other words that have the same suffix or prefix and guide your child to look for patterns in spelling and meaning. Access a list of common prefixes and suffixes here.

Making New Words: Use small pieces of paper or index cards to jot down a collection of base words (words in their simplest form) and common prefixes and suffixes. Take turns selecting a base word and then a prefix or suffix to create a new word. See how many different combinations you each can make. Discuss the meaning of each new word as they are made. Optional printable materials can be found here.

Sharing Our Writing: Consider connecting the child with a relative or pen-pal as a meaningful opportunity to practice their writing skills. This could be through email or hand-written letters. Encourage the child to add descriptive words throughout and to incorporate new vocabulary they have been learning.

Practice Activities (with Printables)

If you don't have a printer, your child's school will print these for you.

Spell and Sort with Vowel Digraphs: Use this sorting activity to identify vowel digraphs.  Access printable materials here: Spell and Sort (ai, ay, ea, ee, oa, ow, and ui)Spell and Sort (ea, oa, ai, ay, oo).

Syllable Share: Play this game to make multiple words with the same syllable.  Syllable Share

Map a Word: Describe that each box represents each sound (not letter) in a word.  Have the child say each sound in a word and then write each sound in one box.  Watch Map a Word.  Map a Word

Silent Letters: Show the child a word with a silent letter (e.g., comb) and explain the b is silent because we do not hear its sound.  Read more words and have the child sort the words according to whether or not there is a silent letter.  Watch Silent Letters.  Silent Letters

Syllable Scoops: Have the child segment and sort words according to how many syllables there are.  When applicable, discuss root words, prefixes, and suffixes.  Syllable Scoops

Word Spinner: Combine two word parts to make new words.  Then, determine if the word is a real word or a nonsense word.  Spinners can be made by placing the point of a pencil in a paperclip if brads are unavailable.  Another option is to cut each of the sounds individually and use as cards.  Word Spinner

Online Activities

Rough Riders: This game has players track down diamond thieves while practicing digraphs, vowel sounds, compound words, and syllables.

Vowel Team Sentence Sort: This activity allows children to sort sentences by the vowel teams included in the sentences.

Spin and Read: Practice reading words with the follow spelling patterns: ew, ue.  

Multisyllabic Words: This game provides practice matching open and closed syllables to build a new word with game cards. A second game allows children to match open and closed syllables as well. A quick overview of syllable types can be found here.

Grammar Police: This game provides practice with compound words and affixes while policing the highways.

Grammar Gladiator: This game provides practice with articles, verbs, homophones, and punctuation while unleashing fireballs.