The vocabulary game is a way for students to practice word meaning embedded at the end of a phonics lesson. To play, a word, phrase or meaning is given and students need to write the word from the decoded phonics words. Once they have a word written they seek the approval by me with a thumbs up to signal when they wrote the correct word, or a thumbs down to have them try again. The use of the thumb provides an anonymous check for understanding.
Wonder Word is a quick review game where I take phonics strategies that have been previously taught and integrate them into a game of hot potato. Basically, words are passed around in a circle and when the chant is over, students have to be able to read the word. There are no real consequences if a student is unable to read it, and can ask a friend to help. The idea is that students can quickly recall and demonstrate what they know.
One of my goals as a first grade teacher is to develop independent learners that can problem solve or decide when it is time to request assistance from others. Self-reliance is a need that many parents talk to me about during conferences and as a result, I've turned to two different strategies in the classroom that allow students to continue their work while informing me of their comfort level of the task. These strategies are known as self monitoring tools that help me to prioritize which students I need to assist first.
The decoding boards, which are your basic dry erase boards, help students visually see what their brains do as they read which is looking for blends, digraphs, long/short vowels etc. Rather than simply reading off the board, I have students write the words we practice in phonics and write the diacritical marks that support and show them how to decode words along the way that then support their reading.