10 Fun Activities to Teach Phonics, Reading, and Vocabulary

phonics activities

Activity 1: TPR and Vocab (Listen and Do).

Steps to do the activity:

  1. Divide the students into teams.
  2. Give each team member a vocabulary item – e.g. a color. Each member of each team has one color.
  3. Tell each member their color or give them a card with that color.
  4. Then, say:
  • “If you have a red card, stand up, please.”
  • “If you are red, jump, please.”
  • “The first red to stand up gets a point for their team.”
  • “Reds, stand up, please.”

Activity 2: Put the Cards in Order (Listen, Look and Do).

Steps to do the activity:

  1. Have some cards (e.g. ten cards).
  2. Read some (e.g. five cards) with numbers, e.g. fish No. 1, ball No. 2, etc.
  3. Then, ask students to select them and put them in order.

Activity 3: Point to It (Listen, Look and Do).

Steps to do the activity:

  1. Say the items, one by one (pre-taught ones) asking students to point to each item.
  2. Then, ask a good student to play the role of the teacher.

Activity 4: Bring Me (Listen, Look and Do).

Steps to do the activity:

  1. Divide the students into teams.
  2. Give each team a set of cards.
  3. Call out one item and ask students to bring it to you.
  4. If it is correct, they get two points, but if it is incorrect, they lose one point.
  5. Call out all items and the remaining cards are subtracted from each team’s score.  

Activity 5: Numbered or Alphabetized list (Listen, Look and Say).

Steps to do the activity:

  1. Give students a set of word cards with a number or a letter for each card.
  2. Call out a number or a letter.
  3. Ask the students to give the word.

Activity 6: Snakes and Ladders (Look and Say).

Steps to do the activity:

  1. Divide the students into groups.
  2. Use a grid of six rows by ten columns and one dice for each group.
  3. Ask students to take a turn to throw the dice and move forward the number of squares.
  4. Ask students to read the item on the square that they land on.
  5. If this square is a ladder, they climb up it, but if it is a snake, they slide down it.

Activity 7: Three-Card Shuffle (Ask, Say and Look).

Steps to do the activity:

  1. Divide students into pairs.
  2. Each pair have three cards and they put them face up on the table.
  3. Ask one student to try to remember the order of the cards.
  4. Ask the other student to turn the cards face down and shuffle them into new positions, two at a time.
  5. Then that student asks the other one “What’s this?” pointing to one card and the first student tries to remember.

Activity 8: Blind Questions (Ask, Say and Look).

Steps to do the activity:

  1. Divide students into pairs.
  2. Use a page from the student’s book or make a sheet with eight or ten pictures on it.
  3. Ask the students to look at the pictures carefully.
  4. Ask student A in the pair to close his eyes.
  5. Ask student B in the pair to put student A’s finger onto one of the pictures and ask: “What’s this?”
  6. Ask student B to guess.

Activity 8: Fishing with Magnets (Look, Say and Read).

Steps to do the activity:

  1. Attach paper clips to lots of cards.
  2. Put some magnets on the end of a string attached to a short rod.
  3. Ask students to fish a card and read it, or:
  4. Say an item and ask the students to fish the card of it.

Activity 9: Room Maps (Look and Write).

Steps to do the activity:

  1. Prior to the class, place cards or photocopies of items under the desks in the classroom.
  2. Draw a map of the class with all the desks on the board.
  3. Ask students to fill in the map, writing the item onto the desk on the map.

Activity 10: Railway Stations (Look and Write; Copy, Read and Look).

Steps to do the activity:

  1. Use a set of about 18 “stations.” Each station will have its own name as a pictured item, and the next destination as either a picture or a word.
  2. Spread the station signposts around the classroom.
  3. Give the students a blank map with just one starting station written in.
  4. Ask students to read the word and find the station.
  5. Then, ask them to copy or write the next destination on their map.
  6. Ask them to say “Finished” when they have completed the full circle.


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It is the resource that all teachers need to have because it shows you:

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Teaching Beginning Reading to ESL/EFL Learners

In this eBook, I exchange my experience with the teachers on the techniques they should use in the classroom, the guidelines they should follow and the reading tasks that can get most children to read in ESL/EFL classes with ease and in a fairly short time.

The eBook includes the following main ideas:

  • What is reading?
  • The main approaches to teaching beginning reading.
  • The stages of teaching beginning reading.
  • Sample activities for beginning reading.
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