What is phonics?
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 4th and 5th grades, children are combining their knowledge of letter-sound relationships, syllable patterns, and word/segment meanings to read unfamiliar multisyllabic words. They can break words into their parts and analyze each component to help them read and understand grade appropriate words.
What Does it Look Like?
Watch this fun, parody video with decoding strategies.
Spelling pattern videos are linked below. Refer to these when reading and writing.
Syllable Hunt: Use newspapers, magazines, and books to hunt for words with a specific syllable type with the child. List the words found and discuss the syllable types (e.g., “Look! I found table and apple to go under Consonant-le, because ta/ble and ap/ple both have consonants followed by the letters -le in the second syllable!” ). Syllable Types (optional)
Break it Down: Stop and help the child find base words when they come to an unfamiliar word. Sometimes there may be two base words, as are found in compound words (e.g., baseball, mailbox, railroad). Other times, a root word may be used and have additional beginnings or endings attached (prefixes or suffixes) that change the meaning of the word. Being able to break an unfamiliar word into its parts can help children figure out how to read the word and uncover its meaning.
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. Prefixes and Suffixes (optional)
Word Building Games: Play word building board games such as Scrabble©, Boggle©, or Word Up© with the child.
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.
H, H, & H: As your child is reading or through your conversations, take notice of the three unique word types listed below. Isolate the word and discuss how variations can differ in spelling, pronunciation, and meaning.
Practice Activities (with Printables)
If you don't have a printer, your child's school will print these for you.
Four Word: Play this game by determining if words on the provided cards are derived from a set of base words. Four Word
Domino Duo: Combine various letter combinations that can make the same sound while using the domino-like cards provided. Domino Duo
Homophone Bingo: Find and match common homophones (words that sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings). Homophone Bingo
Syllable Score: Practice breaking apart syllables in words and recording the number of syllables. Check the child's responses with the included answer key. Syllable Score
Select Syllables: Sort the included cards into two categories, initial syllables and final syllables. Each player selects 5 cards from the initial syllable pile and 5 cards from the final syllable pattern. Then each player makes as many words as they can by combining an initial syllable with a final syllable. If desired, set a timer and challenge one another. Select Syllables
Rough Riders: This game has players track down diamond thieves while practicing digraphs, vowel sounds, compound words, and syllables.
Multisyllabic Words: This game provides practice matching open and closed syllables to build a new word with game cards. This similar 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.
Prefix Popper: This game has children match a prefix to its meaning while popping balloons.
Bounce: This game has players smash boxes that contain misspelled words.