Phonics for Kindergarten

What is Phonics?

Photo of a woman with her child.

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 kindergarten, children learn the relationship between letters and the sounds they represent, and then blend the sounds to read simple words.

What Does it Look Like?

What is phonics?

What does it look like to apply phonics in kindergarten?

Practice Activities

Keep It Simple: Review the alphabet and letter sounds if the child is starting to read and does not yet know all letter names and sounds. Next, look at short CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words (e.g., top, cat, fog) and have the child break them apart into their individual sounds. Then blend these sounds back together (/t/ /o/ /p/; top).

Little Practice, Great Improvement: Talk or play games about letter sounds for a few minutes each day. While driving, give your child a 2 letter word or 3 letter word to spell (e.g., it, in, rip, top, cap). Keep the activities fun and light so the child can enjoy a quick challenge and get a boost of confidence from practicing one skill a day.

Mystery Learning Bag: Collect items that start with the same sound. Pull each item from the bag and have the child name the item. Once all items have been removed, ask the child to identify the sound and letter in each item's name. Try to tell a silly story using the items in the mystery bag.  Step-by-Step Directions

The Whole Alphabet in My Mouth: Sing songs about letter names and sounds together at home, in the car, or while shopping.  Watch The Whole Alphabet in My Mouth.

mClass Home Connect: More phonological awareness activities can be found on mClass Home Connect.

Practice Activities (with Printables)

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

Letter-Sound Practice: Ask the child to choose a letter, say the letter name and its sound, and cover the matching letter on the Letter Arc. Watch Letter-Sound Practice.

Clip a Letter: Practice matching uppercase letters to lowercase letters and then match the letter with the initial sound in a word.  Clip a Letter

Online Activities

Word Force: This interactive game engages children with fun, multi-level literacy development activities.

Sandbox Search: This game has children practice letter naming and recognizing beginning sounds in words.

Word Machine: This game has children read short words. Press the star button to change the first letter and click the purple lever to change the last letter for more reading practice.

Have Fun Teaching ABC Song: This video is one way to practice letter names and sounds.

Puppy Paints Lesson: This Classroom Connection lesson focuses on print concepts and the letter P.

Reading Buddies PBS TV Series

PBS Reading Buddies

The Reading League’s Reading Buddies is an engaging foundational reading television series that cleverly teaches underlying components of skillful word reading such as phonological awareness, letter names/sounds, and blending sounds to decode words.