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Second 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 second grade, children focus on vowel teams (two vowels that make one vowel sound), r-controlled vowels (er, ar, or, ir, ur), consonant blends (two or three consonants that blend together), digraphs (two letters that make one sound), trigraphs (three letters that make one sound), and syllables (units of sound containing a vowel: a, e, i, o, u). 

Goals for Strong Readers

  • Identify the sounds of all letter patterns.  
  • Break words into syllables to help read unknown words.  
  • Sound out new words based on familiar and learned letter patterns. 

Quick Activity

Have your child hunt for words with a specific consonant digraph (th, sh, wh, ch, ck, kn, wr, ng) in newspapers, magazines, or books. Example: Look! I found sang and rang, they both have the ng digraph.” 

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.  
  • Lay the cups on their side. 
  • On the first cup, choose six consonants to write around the outside edge.  
  • On the middle cup, write the five vowels around the outside edge.
  • On the third cup, write six consonants around the outside edge.  
  • Have your child spin the cups to create 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.  

Alternate Version 1Replace the vowels on the middle cup with vowel teams (oa, ea, oo, ee, ai, ol, ay, ou, oi, oy, au, aw, oe, ew, ow). 

Alternate Version 2Add a fourth cup. Write e, s, es, d, ed, ing around the edge to create new words. 

Letter Spin Activity
Spell with Cups Activity
Letter Spin Paper activity
Spell with Paper Activity

Label six small bowls or a muffin tin with each of the six syllable types described in the chart below. Write the example words on small pieces of paper. Ask your child to sort the words into the correct bowls or section of the muffin tin.


Types of Syllables Description or Definition Examples
Closed syllable a vowel followed by one or more consonants; vowel sound is short; vowel is closed in by a consonant pat, crunch, top, chick
Consonant L–e a consonant followed by an “l—e”; must connect to another syllable table, giggle, people, muffle, circle
Open syllable ends in a single vowel; vowel makes long sound; there is no consonant to close it in hi, baby, even, me, fever, open
Vowel team a group of vowels working together to make a single sound wood, steam, boat, toy, hay, tail
Magic E vowel—consonant—e pattern; vowel sound is long, e is silent wake, stove, kite, mute, dime
R – controlled r follows a vowel and changes the sound party, cork, churn, shirt, herd


Muffin Match - Syllable Soft Activity
Muffin Match – Syllable Soft Activity
Second Grade Section