Plan and implement an effective kindergarten phonics routine to build the foundation of reading and writing skills for your students.
I have learned over the years that my students need direct, explicit instruction in phonics. Without it, some of my students would not be able to connect the written symbol (the letter) and its spoken sound.
At my school board, we are not given a phonics program to follow. So instead, I have used pieces from different programs like Jolly Phonics or Animated Literacy to guide me on how to teach phonics skills to my students.
I will try my best to outline what this looks like for my students but keep in mind that this routine is continually adapted to fit their needs. It is also just a part of what goes into my daily literacy instruction.
Letter of the Day
We start off at the beginning of the school year by learning a letter of the day. I used to do the letter of the week approach, but I have since learned that that may not be the best way to meet the needs of all students.
You can find different scopes and sequences for the order in which to teach letters, but this is the one we are currently following:
s a t i p n
c e h k r m d
g o u l f b
j z w v y x q
Once I am done teaching letters, we move on to digraphs (ch, wh, sh, th).
Teaching Kindergarten Phonics
To effectively teach each letter, I follow a routine that helps my students make the connection between the written symbol and its spoken sound:
I Say, We Say, You Say
I start off by teaching my students the sound that the letter makes. I make sure to emphasize what my mouth is doing as I say the sound. Once I have said it, then we say it together, then they say it. This allows them to practice, and I can see if they are saying the sound correctly.
I also like to attach an action to each of the letter sounds. Some of the actions have been adapted from various phonics programs I have used over the years.
I find that the action really helps students struggling to remember the connection between the letter and sound. They can do the action, and it helps them remember it.
Next, I like to come up with some words that begin with that letter sound. This helps my students put the sound in context and hear how it sounds. I come up with a few words, then my students make a list of more words. Remember to include any student names since these are powerful to help students remember letters and sounds.
Students also have to know how to write the letters. So, first, I model how to write the letter, then they practice by skywriting it.
Kindergarten Phonics Routine
To make my instruction more structured and predictable, I have made a slide deck to use when teaching each letter. It goes through the routine and has everything you need to teach each letter and its sound. It matches up perfectly with the alphabet posters that I display on my classroom walls as well.
Make your teaching life easier by getting the slide deck here.
More Kindergarten Phonics Practice
I also find that my students love listening and singing along to songs about each alphabet letter. I have used various CDs and YouTube videos over the years for this.
On top of the explicit instruction given during my phonics routine, I also allow students ample opportunity to practice phonics skills throughout the school day. Through a print-rich environment, rich play experiences, centres and small groups, my students can practice the skills that I have taught them.
What do you do for your phonics routine? Anything I am missing? Let me know in the comments!