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Phonics Practice for First Graders: At Home and in the Classroom

Phonics has come back into play thanks to the Science of Reading! What we are seeing now is a trend back towards phonics which is great. Why? Because phonics is a crucial skill for young readers to develop in order to become more proficient. Learning phonics can help students decode words and start to read with better fluency with stronger comprehension skills. These skills really start being taught in first grade. If you need phonics practice for first graders, these fun and engaging activities are perfect for you to use at home or in the classroom. 

Why Do Phonics Practice in First Grade

In first grade, students are learning vital reading skills which starts with phonics instruction. This year, they will be growing their vocabulary and asked to decode and comprehend more and more. Here are seven activities for phonics practice for first grade that are perfect for home or the classroom! 

  • Sound Match 
  • Sound Sorting
  • Word Building
  • Word Scramble 
  • Word and PIcture Match 
  • Word and Sound Match 
  • Word and Rhyme Match 
phonics-practice-for-first-graders

Match the Sound for Phonics Practice for First Grade 

Sound Match is a simple activity you can easily do with partners or individually. All you need are a set of index cards. On each index card, write a letter on it. Then, on corresponding index cards write words that use that sound. For example, students would match the letter “b” with the word “bat.” When you practice using this method, make sure you are  using sounds that your students already know. These can be sounds that are on your sound wall! If you need a sound wall template, check out this Phonics Sound Wall that includes Teaching Tools and worksheets that uses the science of reading! 

phonics-practice-for-first-graders
Click the Image to Check Out This Great Resource!

Sort the Sound

While matching the sound for phonics practice for first grade is a great activity, if students are not proficient in reading yet or need help with decoding words, sorting the sound might be a better option. To do this, simply cut out pictures of objects and write the corresponding word on the picture. This act alone helps with association of words and sounds. Next, have students sort pictures into piles based on the initial sound. For example, they might sort a picture of a bat into the “b” pile and a picture of a cat into the “c” pile. 

Build Words for Phonics Practice for First Graders

Building words is a great activity for students to do for a fast finisher, morning motivation, or a fun literacy center activity. To build words, all you need is a set of letter tiles or magnetic letters to have them build CVC words. For example, they might build the word “cat” by placing the letters “c,” “a,” and “t” in order. 

Mix it Up with Word Scramble 

This is an easy “filler” activity for those moments when you have five minutes before recess, lunch, or a special. Write a set of simple CVC words on  slips of paper and mix them up! Then have your students unscramble the letters to spell various CVC words. This is a great way to practice phonics in first grade because it reinforces sounds and spelling. This activity can be done with Boom Cards that help students build CVC words. Using Boom Cards for distance or e-learning is a great way to keep students engaged. 

phonics-practice-for-first-graders
Check Out these Great Boom Cards!

Match the Picture 

This is a fun and simple matching game that can be used in a variety of ways. To start, all you need is a set of simple pictures and write the corresponding words next to each one. Then have your student match the pictures to the words by saying the sound each letter makes. You can also do this by playing actual matching with the picture and the words flipped over. This would reinforce memory skills and help students sound out words multiple times. In addition, because matching is usually played in teams, students can help each other with unknown sounds and words. You can also use BUMP games to match the picture and the sounds! For an easy printable, check out this BUMP Phonics Game

phonics-practice-for-first-graders
Click the Image for this BUMP Phonics Game!

Word and Sound Match 

Just like all of these other phonics practices for first graders, this activity has a simple set up. Simply write CVC words on index cards and a set of corresponding sounds. For example, “p,” “t,” and “s” on separate cards. Then have your student match the words to the sounds by saying the initial sound of each word. 

Rhyme Match with Word for Phonics Practice in First Grade 

This phonics practice for first graders is super simple but provides an interesting challenge for students. Write a simple set of words on index cards. Then have a set of corresponding rhyming words on separate cards. Simply have students match the word to their rhyming partners by saying the sounds of the words. This is a great way to focus on a specific vowel sound or pattern in CVC words. 


Phonics is an important part of understanding how to decode words. Incorporating these phonics practices for first grade into your child’s routine can help them build and reinforce their phonics skills in a fun and engaging way. All of these activities can be done in small groups in literacy centers or individually. However you choose to use them, you can rest easy knowing your students are gaining valuable phonics skills.

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