Phonics center is the place where students are able to really practice their letter recognition and letter-sound correspondence skills. This is a foundational skill center where students enjoy repeated practice and really reinforce needed skills.
What I use:
A phonics game or sort
A response sheet
Letter sound or CVC puzzles
(I keep a couple of letter sound puzzles in the center bucket for this center. (These puzzles are where students match letters to pictures with that initial sound, build CVC words, etc.) When students are done with their phonics game or sort and their response sheet, they know they need to work on letter sounds. Students in my class actually know that “phonics” means letter and sound work. They love this center because it is familiar to them, it is fun and it also builds their confidence.)
What I do to set up the center:
- I prepare a game or sort that aligns with the phonics skill we are currently working on in whole group.
- I have a response sheet that matches with the phonics game or sort.
- I have letter sound puzzles for review if students get their work done early.
* For the first round of centers in the year, I let students use picture cards and sorting items. I do this because these materials are things we use in whole group, so students will be familiar with the materials. I have students draw their own response sheet at this time, just to get them used to using what is in front of them to complete their work.
* Until about the middle of the year, I have students work on initial sound sorts. They sort two piles of pictures and match them with the letter they begin with. Then, the students complete a response sheet (usually cut and paste) to match the piles they have made.
* Towards the middle of the year, I begin to have students create word families. They do this with letter tiles. Their response sheet for this is a “real word” and “nonsense word” sort. Students work together to sound out each word in a word family and decide if it is indeed a real word. When they are done, they use one word in a sentence and illustrate it.
* As the year goes on, I will have student work on vowel sorts, medial sound sorts and blend or digraph sorts as well. I typically try to align this center with our whole groups skills throughout the year.
*This center is really easy to mold to the needs of your students and it is great practice to reinforce foundational skills on a regular basis. If, for example, students are having problems differentiating between I and E sounds, I will make the sort, whether initial or medial sounds, revolve around I and E. This center is really easy to change out and students don’t need much direction since they are always pretty much doing the same types of activities.
- Take out the letter sound headers. Divide the pictures evenly between your partner and yourself.
- Work together to place the pictures under the proper heading.
- Once all of the pictures have been sorted, you should check the placement of all of the pictures and your partner should also. Discuss the pictures to check.
- Complete your response sheet using the headers and pictures you’ve sorted as a reference. Turn in your work.
- Work on letter sound or CVC puzzles.