Welcome to the next activity in my Pen and Paper Phonics series!
Pen and Paper Phonics are activities to teach key phonics knowledge in a quick and easy way.
The introduction to Pen and Paper Phonics as well as previous activities are available on my blog. Scroll to the end of this post to see all the links.
This activity is called:
The Basic Idea:
- Small pieces of card (at least 10 pieces).
- Write the words or letter sounds that you want to practice on half of the cards. Repeat the same words/sounds on the other half of the cards so that you have two of every word/sound.
The content of the game.
In this example, the content I wanted to practice was ‘tricky words’. These are words that are difficult to read as they do not follow the pattern of the normal spellings of words.
For example, ‘said’ sounds like it should be spelled ‘sed’ but the ‘e’ sound is written with an ‘ai’. However, normally, ‘ai’ makes a ‘long a’ sound as in ‘wait’. It very rarely makes an ‘e’ sound.
All very confusing.
In addition, ‘said’ is a very common word. It is helpful for children to know this word as they start to learn to read, as they are likely to come across it a lot. But, they won’t have the phonics knowledge to know how to sound out ‘said’ correctly, so it’s best to just learn it.
So, when I did this activity with a student, I wanted to practice a few of the tricky words we had been learning:
- I wrote each word on two different cards so that I had two of each word.
- I chose 8 words so in all there were 16 cards: two matching sets of 8 cards.
- I wrote the words in red pen. I do this as a visual clue for children to remember that these words cannot be sounded out. (If I was playing with a mixture of words that can and can’t be sounded out, the ones that can would be in black).
- To start with, I had one set and my student had one set. We each shuffled our own sets.
The method of the game.
The method I used to teach the content was a game of snap:
- This is how to do the activity:
- Write the words/sounds you want to practice on one set of cards and then duplicate the words on another set, so that you have two sets of the same cards.
- Go through all the words on the cards with your child or student. Read them carefully.
- Give one set to your child or student and keep the other set.
- Then, take turns to put a card down on the table or place where you are working. The word should be face up so you can both read it.
- If you both put the same card down (with the same word on it), you smack (or gently place!) your hand on the matching cards and shout ‘Snap!’
- The first person to hit the pack gets all the cards that have been turned over, including their opponents.
- They add those cards to their pack and then you keep playing.
- The game is over when one person has no more cards left.
- You can play again and as the child gets used to the game, start turning over cards at the same time rather than taking turns.
- You can also shuffle both sets of cards together and deal them between yourselves, rather than each taking a complete set. This works if you have lots of cards.
Not every game goes to plan! Here are some things to watch out for in this game:
- If your child finds the game too fast paced, you might want to use different colored cards for each set of words, so that the same words are on the same color. This will give them a clue of when the cards are likely to match. Then they can look at how the words match after they have seen them, rather than as they see them. You should also use some words you know your child or student already knows, so they will have some success.
- It can get competitive! Although the aim of snap is to get all the cards, in this game that is not the primary objective. The most important thing here is that the child reads and recognizes the words.
How to Adapt:
1. Similar Letters: For this activity, use letters that are similar, such as p/d/b, or u/n, or i/j. This will help your child really concentrate on the differences in orientation between these letters. You might need to put a mark at the top of the cards so the child knows which way round they should be, if the cards get mixed up.
2. What begins with…: In this activity, use cards with a picture of an object for one set, and the beginning sound of that object on another card. Then when the picture and it’s beginning sound are put down together, you say snap.
3. Two-letter sounds: You could use two-letter sounds, or digraphs. These are sounds that are made with two letters, even though they only make one sound. For example, /ch/ in ‘chop’.
4. Words that rhyme: An awareness of rhyme is a very important phonic skill, so using cards with sets of rhyming words would be a great way to reinforce this. In this, you could either choose a rhyming string and use words that rhyme within this string (see picture A), or you could do different words that rhyme but are not the same exact words (see picture B).
5. Two letter or three letter words: Instead of using tricky words, you could use words that can be sounded out. This way the child is having practice in reading the words. These words can be ‘key words’ or ‘sight words’, which are words that are common. Or they can be any regular words, that will reinforce sounding out. These words are not tricky, so they don’t need to be written in red.
6. Upper case, lower case match: Here you could have upper case letters on one set and lower case letters on the other set.
7. Syllables: Syllables are really helpful when trying to read longer words. There are common syllables such as ‘-est’ in biggest. If a child recognizes common syllables, they don’t have to sound them out when they come across them in a word, which makes it easier and quicker to read the word. So in this game, you could write common syllables on the words and then use these to play snap. This step of reading syllables is for children who can already read, sound out and recognize a large number of tricky words.
How to Adapt…the method:
- Hide and seek: Hide one set of cards around a room, then give the other set to the child and get them to find the matching cards. When they find them, they can read them.
There you have it. A quick and easy phonics activity with lots of potential to adapt it to suit your needs.
This is how it looked when I did it in ‘real life’!
Previous Activities in Pen and Paper Phonics: