Phonemic Awareness Activities – Just Grab and Go!

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Last year I was cleaning my basement getting ready for our annual garage sale and came across all those old Disney movies housed in VHS cases.  Although our VHS player is long gone and the kids are now into their late teens and twenties, parting with those old movies was pretty difficult.  I can’t tell you how many times I watched Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast- I can still sing many of those songs years later.  While I was looking at that old stack of tapes, I was trying to think of ideas for re-purposing the case and it hit me!  They would make ideal storage containers for activities!  Here’s the vision:


The step- by-step directions for the activity is placed on the left side of the cover and the materials for the activity on the right.  How simple, right?   I was a tad obsessed with the concept so I created 17 Activities on the Go! activities to address phonemic awareness, phonics and sight words.  Each activity is available as a single product or is contained in a grade-level bundle.  The Activities on the Go! for Rhyme contains 32 colorful rhyming pictures.


The Make, Take & Teach Activities on the Go! is available through my online Teachers Pay Teachers store or through the Make, Take & Teach website.

The other Pre-K/Kindergarten early phonemic awareness activity that fits so nicely in the VHS case is the Activities on the Go! Syllables.  When you download this activity you’ll receive 40 pictures for sorting words by 1-, 2- and 3- syllables.


So, now for my Kindergarten and First Grade friends, I created the Activities on the Go! Blending activity.  The race car activity has been so popular and the kids just love practicing blending sounds into words while driving their race car below the letters.  It’s amazing how such a simple activity can keep their interest.



This activity contains 48 tracks for practicing the skill of blending.


This activity is available in my online  Teachers Pay Teachers store or through the Make, Take & Teach website.

The final phonemic awareness activity developed for our Kinder and First Grade friends is the Activities on the Go! for Segmentation.  When you download this activity you’ll receive 48 pictures for sorting by 2-, 3-, 4- and 5-phoneme words.  You can easily differentiate this activity by limiting the number of phonemes you wish your students to practice.


If you like the Activities on the Go! concept, you may want to consider purchasing the activities in the grade-level bundles.  Set 1 is ideal for Pre K/Kindergarten as it contains early phonemic awareness skills and beginning phonics skills.


Teachers Pay Teachers store or through the  Make, Take & Teach website

Bundle 2 is ideal for practicing skills introduced mid- to end of Kindergarten and First Grade.


Teachers Pay Teachers store or through the Make, Take & Teach website

So if you don’t have old Disney movies still in boxes in the basement of your house, old VHS cases can be found in almost every second hand shop.  Here we hit the jackpot at our local Habitat for Humanity store.  Old movies can also be found on Ebay.  The activities can also be stored in baggies or other containers.


Just a little hint- there are a few different types of VHS containers- the containers that store the Disney movies work best as the insides are flat and the activities fit nicely.


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8 Hands-On Activities for Teaching Long and Short Vowel Sounds

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Learning vowel sounds can be so tricky for our young readers.  Not only do several of the short vowel sounds sound similar (for example, the short /a/ and short /e/ sounds), but vowels have two sounds– a short sound and a long sound.  Teaching students that vowels have two sounds is typically introduced early in first grade.  The explanation is actually quite simple.  We just tell students that when a vowel has a long sound, it says its name.  Having this poster handy while teaching this concept can be helpful.  Just click the link below for a quick and easy download.


 Just click the following link to download this freebie Long and Short Vowels Poster

For our little first graders, I created 8 hands-on activities for teaching  discrimination between long and short vowel sounds.  Several of the activities were designed for the direct teaching of the concept in either whole or small group instruction and others for added practice during independent literacy centers.  Here are 3 of my favorites:

For introducing the concept, the long and short vowel bone sorting activity is ideal.  Just place the dog dishes on the table, have the students name the picture on the bone and then place the bone in the correct dog dish.  This activity contains 60 bones with pictures of long and short vowel sounds.

Long Short VS sort

I really love the self-checking feature of Long or Short activity using Hot Dots.  This activity contains 30 colorful cards that can be used with either the Hot Dots pen or with a golf tee (punch a hole and circle the correct answer on the back).  If using the Hot Dots pen, the student chooses their answer by placing the tip of the pen on the circle (dots are either hot or cold).  If the answer is correct, a green light will appear on the top of the pen as well as applauding will sound.  You can purchase the pen and the hot/cold dots from Amazon.  This pen can be used for a variety of activities!


The flip chute is another one of my favorite hands-on activities that can be used to practice most any skill.  They are particularly ideal for independent literacy centers.  Flip chutes are made using orange juice cartons.  The skill cards can be made using index cards cut into 2 inch squares.  For this activity, I created the cards for you (just print double-sided) as well as dressed up the carton with the dog-themed templates.  Directions for creating your own flip chute are contained in the Long/Short Vowel Sound Bundle.  You can also download the directions and basic templates for the flip chute by clicking the link below.


For directions on how to make your own flip chute, just click the following link Flip Chute Directions

Be sure to check out the other five activities contained in the Doggone Fun! with Long and Short Vowels in my online Teachers Pay Teachers store.



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Fun Little Finds at Walmart

One of my favorite pastimes is perusing the aisles  at our local dollar stores and the toy sections of Walmart and Meijer for ideas for center activities.  My three children are now in college and instead of spending my time on the soccer fields I’m now spending that time shopping.  Insert HUGE sigh– I really miss my kids and I would go back to those days in a minute.  I’m not adjusting very well to my empty nest.  While shopping at Walmart the other day I stumbled upon the card section in the toy area and found a few relatively inexpensive games that would be a nice addition to your literacy centers.

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The first treasure was the Scrabble Slam! card game.  It’s a great phonemic awareness activity as students use the letter cards in their hand to change the word.  The first player to get rid of all their cards wins the game.  I’m thinking that this activity would be ideal for mid-first grade/ beginning second grade.

I really love the Apples to Apples game.  Sometimes it’s difficult to find activities targeting vocabulary.  A word is provided (green card) and the students choose a picture card from their hand that best matches the word.  They then try to convince the judge as to why their card best describes the word.  This is awesome for oral language development!

I have one more fun find at Walmart.  There are ways to make your own card holders using recycled CDs and plastic lids, but this card holder really wasn’t that expensive so I decided to go ahead and purchase it rather than make my own.  Card holders are very helpful for playing card games as little hands have difficulty holding and fanning the cards.

card holder

Are there games that you find helpful for centers?  Be sure to leave your suggestions in the comments.  Enjoy!


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Phonemic Awareness Activities On the Go!

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It’s amazing sometimes where inspiration hits.  A few weeks ago I had to kill about an hour and decided to hop on over to Michael’s Craft Store.  As I was walking through the bead aisle I found this really handy plastic tote.  It was just the right size to fit picture cards!  Many of my teacher friends are constantly on the move and tote is just perfect!

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The phonemic awareness tote contains over 500 colorful pictures for teaching the Syllables, Rhyme, Beginning Sounds, Onset-Rime, Phoneme Isolation and Phoneme Segmentation.  Each skill area contains a common core alignment card, activity card(s) and colorful and engaging pictures.  The borders are color-coded per skill for easy organization.


Although the tote found at Michael’s is perfect, the cards will fit in any similar-sized tote.  You could even store the cards in travel soap boxes (you could find the coordinating colors) or baggies.

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The Make, Take & Teach The Big Box of Phonemic Awareness Activities can be found in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

The Big Box of Phonics Activities is also available in my TpT store.  This file contains pictures and activities for working with Short Vowels/Word Families, Blends, Digraphs, Magic e, R-Controlled  Vowels and Common Vowel Teams.


Also included in the download is the template with the labels to fit this tote.  Hoping my friends love the tote as much as I do!



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The Importance of Teaching Rhyme

Before children learn to read, they must first have an understanding of how sounds work within words.  Learning to recognize and produce rhyme  is one of the very first phonological skills that children acquire on their way to becoming proficient readers.  Working with rhyme is an important component of the early childhood curriculum.  Research tells us that most children learn to recognize rhyme by 5 (which words rhyme:  cat, bug, rat) and can provide a rhyming word by 5 1/2.  When children appreciate rhyme and are able to provide rhyming words, they show that they understand that words are made up of individual speech sounds which can be changed to create different words.  That understanding is the basis of reading.  Here’s a graphic explaining the difference between phonological awareness, phonemic awareness and phonics.  For more information, you may wish to visit the Phonological Awareness, Phonemic Awareness and Phonics blog post.


Click the following link to download this handout Phonological-Awareness

There is a developmental sequence for the acquisition of phonological awareness skills.  This handout outlines the steps- it’s a helpful reference for our preschool and kindergarten teachers.


Click the following link to download this handout Developmental Stages of Phonemic Awareness

Teaching students to recognize and produce rhyme is a whole lot of fun.  Using books with rhyme is a great way to introduce this concept.  When you read rhyming books, children are exposed to the rhythm of language.  Using books in this manner also improves oral language development.  Here are a few of my favorite books:


My children are all now in college so digging these books from the depths of the old bookshelves has certainly brought back memories!  I loved reading these books to my own children and just couldn’t bear to part with them.  My all time favorite rhyming book is Jamberry by Bruce Degen.  I can tell that our book was very much loved as the spine is nearly falling apart.  Of course, you can count on Dr. Seuss for all things rhyme.  Green Eggs and Ham and Fox in Socks were two of our favorites.  Although not in my own bookshelf, Is Your Mama a Llama and Sheep in a Jeep were two books that I often used when I was teaching preschool.

Matching games are also ideal for teaching students to recognize and produce rhyme.  I always like to incorporate a holiday or seasonal theme into the activity.  Here’s an example of the mitten match game that we use during the cold months of winter:


The candy corn game is certainly a favorite!  Students beg for this activity way past Halloween!


These activities are just two of seven contained in the Big Bundle of Rhyme Activities.


The Big Bundle of Rhyme Activities is available through my online Teachers Pay Teachers store or within the Make, Take & Teach website.


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Developmental Sequence of Phonological Awareness Skills


Click the following link to download this free handout Developmental Stages of Phonemic Awareness

My good friend, Heidi, who is a Reading Specialist at one of our local elementary buildings, asked if I’d be interested in co-presenting with her at our next year’s district-wide professional development day.  I love working with Heidi so, of course, I jumped at the chance.  Next year Heidi and I will be presenting on the topic of phonological and phonemic awareness.  Our target audience will be preschool and Pre-K teachers.  I developed this handout for the presentation and thought others may find it helpful.  Feel free to download it if you’d like!  Enjoy!


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