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First Grade Section

ShapeWorking with Letters and Sounds (Phonics) 

Why This is Important

Phonics is working with letters, patterns of letters, and sounds. This is the foundation for accurately being able to read words. In first grade, children begin learning more letter patterns that help them to read unknown words. Some patterns first graders learn are vowel teams (two vowels that make one vowel sound), consonant blends (two or three consonants that blend together), and digraphs (two letters that make one sound). 

Goals for Strong Readers

  • Identify the sounds of most letter patterns.  
  • Sound out new words based on familiar and learned letter patterns. 

Quick Activity

Write letters on individual pieces of paper and put them in a bag, box or cup. Let your child reach into the bag and take out a piece of paper. Have your child say the sound that matches the letter(s) on the piece of paper. You can also write letter patterns that include more than one letter but make one sound (ch, sh, th, wh, ph). 

More Activities and Games

  • Write six different letters on notecards or square pieces of paper, being sure to use vowels and consonants. If you have the Scrabble board game, you can use Scrabble tiles instead of paper. 
  • Play a game with your child to see who can create the most words out of the letters given.  
  • Have your child write the words they create on a piece of paper. 
  • Stack three Styrofoam or plastic cups on top of each other.  
  • Lay the cups on their side. 
  • On the first cup, choose six consonants (any letters except a, e, i, o, and u) to write around the thicker outside edge of the cup.  
  • On the middle cup, write the five vowels (a, e, i, o, u) around the thicker outside edge of the cup. 
  • On the third cup, choose six consonants (any letters except a, e, i, o, and u) to write around the thicker outside edge of the cup.  
  • Have your child turn one cup at a time to make new words to read. 
  • You may use three strips of paper placed side by side if you do not have Styrofoam cups. Your child can move the slips of paper to create new words. 
Letter Spin Activity
Letter Spin Activity
Letter Spin Paper activity
Letter Spin (on paper) Activity
  • Choose a word and write it on a piece of paper.
  • Have your child use crayons, colored pencils or markers to trace the letters in the word using the color code key to label the different letter patterns.
  • Sample word list: them, these, check, chat, shake, whale, phone, chop, both, shut, hush, cute, sick, brick, kite
Consonant Red
Vowel Blue
Digraph (two letters that make one sound) Examples: sh, ch, th, wh, ph, ck, ng Orange
Bossy e (an e at the end of a word that is silent and makes the vowel say its name. Examples: cake, kite, broke) Green
Advanced: Vowel teams (ee, ei, ie, ea, ie, ou, oi, oy, ai, ay, oa, ow, ue) Purple
Advanced: R-controlled vowels (ir, er, ur, or, ar) Brown
Rainbow Activity
Rainbow Words Activity
First Grade Section