Learning phonics can be frustrating for young children, but not if you make a game of it. There are a variety of professional phonics games on the market, but you can add a personal touch by downloading and constructing printable board games. The following games are suitable for home and school use by preschoolers and kindergartners. They also work well in English as a Second Language (ESL) classrooms.
This race game for two to four players is suitable for children five and up with adult participation. The players come up with lists of words using the same phoneme, then score their lists by advancing a race car around the track. The PDF file includes all the components needed, but players can use their own toy cars as part of the game instead. Click here to download Phonetics 500!
Race to the Lighthouse
This game for two to four players is available from the BBC Home website. It challenges players to solve phonics-related clues as they journey to a lighthouse. The Race for the Lighthouse PDF includes all the components you need, though players may prefer to supply their own dice.
If you need help downloading a printable, check out these helpful tips.
Say and Spell
This family of phonics games from Lanternfish ESL are ideal for classroom use. Each Say and Spell game includes a large board that pastes easily onto a poster board. Players roll the dice, landing on spaces with pictures of objects. They must identify the object and spell its name.
The Soundcatcher Game
Also provided by the BBC, the Soundcatcher Game is for 2 or more players. The players learn phonics by rolling letter cubes and finding the pictures on their game board that match the phoneme on the cube. There are three different versions and four different game boards for each version. This is a good game for learning initial sounds, final phonemes, and medial vowels.
Other Online Resources
There are many other sites offering educational games for children. Most of these sites include a selection of games for teaching and reinforcing phonics skills.
Tools for Educators
Tools for Educators offers tools for customizing printable board games. The site has a board game wizard which offers more than 20 themes for customizing your phonics board game. The site also offers options for creating dominoes, dice and vocabulary handouts.
Designed for ESL teachers and students, Stickyball.net offers a large selection of phonics worksheets and other phonics resources.There are four phonics flags board games to print and use in classrooms or at home.
Adrian Bruce's Reading Room features a selection of printable board games that teach phonics. The games are similar to popular kid's games such as Snakes and Ladders and Four in a Row.
Kelly's Kindergarten offers many excellent printable game boards for developing phonics and other reading skills. Two of the most appropriate are:
- Picking Pumpkins, which helps identify beginning sounds associated with the letters g,h,j,k,l,m,n,p,q,r,s, and t.
- Squirrel Sounds, which helps identify beginning sounds associated with the letters b, c, f, m, r, and s.
Customizing Games for Your Children
Most phonics games have open designs that encourage parents and teachers to add their own word lists. This helps direct children's attention to the areas where they need to do the most work. Make full use of that customization, but don't forget to include "easy" material that your children have already mastered. Jumping from easy work to more difficult work is an important part of the learning process, and provides a sense of mastery that engages and motivates learners.