Phonics is instruction that focuses on the alphabetic principle - the systematic, predictable relationship between spoken sounds and written letters that allows readers to identify or "decode" words. The English langauge has only 26 letters, but contains 44 sounds. This means a student must learn many ways to read and spell each sound. 

Through research we have learned that phonics instruction should be: 


Alphabet Scavenger Hunt

Be sure your kindergartner knows all of her uppercase and lowercase letters. One fun and easy way to practice is to pick up a favorite read aloud book and have your child find each letter in the print, in alphabetical order. Ask your child if some letters are harder to spot in every book, and guess why that might be. (Resource: Reading Rockets) 


Magnetic letters can provide lots of easy phonics practice right in your kitchen. For an alphabet refresher, ask your child to arrange the letters in alphabetical order. Next, ask her to pick out a letter, think of a simple three- or four-letter word that starts with that letter, and spell it out on the refrigerator. Can your child think of more words to spell with that first letter? Finally, see if she can change one letter in the word to make a new word. (Resource: Reading Rockets) 


On a sheet of paper, draw a ladder with two long sides and up to 10 rungs. Write a word at the bottom of the ladder. Challenge your child to come up with new words by just changing one letter at the beginning, middle, or end of the word. For example, if the bottom word is line, your word ladder could look like this:

(Resource: Reading Rockets)

Words in the Wild

Words are everywhere! When you're out for a walk or shopping together, look at signage and point out some simple words for your child to sound out. Then try more challenging words like "Hardware Store" or some of the words on a movie poster or a menu in a restaurant window. Look at a movie poster together. Ask your child if they can sound out the words. Keep it fun and brisk as you walk together. (Resource: Reading Rockets)