Kindergarten Phonics Routines

The Science of Reading is HUGE right now in my state (Arkansas).  For too long, we've focused on reading strategies that teach kids to guess the word, skip it and come back, use context clues, and more that are just scientifically unproven to help kids grow as readers.

With the Science of Reading research, the focus is back to the basics.  Decoding.  That's not to say that comprehension isn't important.  But decoding leads to comprehension.  If I can't read it, I can't understand it... That's why phonics instruction is absolutely critically in the kindergarten classroom (along with whole group comprehension work)!

If you've followed my small corner of cyberspace for long, you know that I taught first grade for 10 years.  First grade was my first love!  But then a baby...and then twins...and now I'm home on a mommy break for at least a few more years until the twins start school.  But last year, before the twins joined our family, I taught kinder for 3 months as a long-term sub.  And I absolutely LOVED it!  One of the things I loved most was getting a chance to see how the phonics routines I grew to love in first grade could be adapted for kindergarten.  Let's talk about what weekly phonics routines look like in kindergarten!

I spend about 30 minutes on direct phonemic awareness and phonics instruction each day.  Of course, my kids get more work on phonics in guided reading with our decodable readers and during stations...but this is our whole group phonics block time!  Here's a look at what we do each day....but if you are more visual, watch the video to see my routines here.


Mondays

First, we practice phonemic awareness (7 minutes).  I have used different phonemic awareness programs and activities over the years.  But my favorite elements of a good phonemic awareness program is that it's focused, intense, but quick, that it has a good pacing and almost rhythm to it to move it along, and that they kids actively participate through total physical response.  You can read about some of the motions we do for segmenting and blending in this post.  And someday soon, I'll blog about all of the specific phonemic awareness activities I use and the motions we put with them.

The most important thing is the rhythm of the activity.  I do not waste any seconds.  I open with, "Let's do some listening.  Ready?"  If the first skill is beginning sounds, I immediately say, "I'll say a word, you say the beginning sound: cat." Then, the kids know to repeat the word by saying, "Cat. /c/ /c/ cat!"  Then, immediately, I give the next word, "Ball" "Ball. /b/ /b/ ball." and so on.  When we get to the next skill, I give short and sweet directions and then we go again. It's fast.  Kids move with it.  And it's FUN!

In my digital phonics powerpoints, I've recorded all of the phonemic awareness activities on each slide.  So you just need to click to play and do it with the kiddos!

Second, we read through our phonics chart (3 minutes) ...either the alphabet chart, or blends chart, depending on our focus sound for the week.

Then, I introduce our new sound (3 minutes).  We click to watch the video to introduce our focus letter sound for the week.

Next, we practice letter naming fluency (2 minutes).  I simply click on our letter naming slide and the letters appear and the kids name them.  We review any letters that kids miss.

After that, we decode our words--slippety slide style (3 minutes).  We have 3 words that decode each day of the week (except Fridays). You can watch me model slide, slide, slippety slide in this video.  We do this for each word.  We review any words we miss sounds on.

Then, we work on spelling with our break it down chant (7 minutes).  If you've seen my spelling video, you already know this routine.  It's available to view here, so I won't rehash in this post!  As soon as we finish decoding our word list, I tell my kids to get their dry erase boards ready. They go back to their desks for this and while we are transitioning, students write our words we just decoded as many times as they have time to write NEATLY.  I walk around and point to one word for each kid to read aloud to me. 

Once everyone has their boards ready, I introduce 2 new words  on Monday with our dry erase boards and our break it down chant.

Finally, we introduce new sight words (5 minutes).  I introduce each sight word and we do some physical response with it. (like jump and spell it, clap the letters, etc....we do the same motion with the word all week.  With each word, they stand up quickly, spell out the word, say the word, and sit down super quickly.  I also love using Body Spell from Go Noodle for this!  It's perfect: I just type in our new sight words for the week (I have a suggested list of sight words in my phonics powerpoint pack) and the kids get to practice reading and spelling our sight words and have a brain break too!  I love it!

Tuesdays

Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays look very similar to Mondays with minor changes.  Here's a look at Tuesday!

First, we practice phonemic awareness (7 minutes).  We follow the same routines I explained on Monday.

Second, we read through our phonics chart (3 minutes) ...either the alphabet chart, or blends chart, depending on our focus sound for the week.

Next, we practice letter naming fluency (2 minutes).  I simply click on our letter naming slide and the letters appear and the kids name them.  We review any letters that kids miss.

Then, I introduce our phonics poem (5 minutes).  I read it to them without showing them the poem.  Then, I reread the poem and students listen for our focus sound and I have them give me some TPR (total physical response) when they hear it.  For example, for /a/ we hold a pretend apple up to our mouth while we say the sound.  Next, I show them the poem and they look for our focus letter sound with their eyes.  We highlight the focus letters together.

Next, we decode our words--slippety slide style (3 minutes).  We decode 3 new words from our word list for Tuesday.

Then, we work on spelling with our break it down chant (5 minutes).  During our transition to dry erase boards, students write our words we just decoded as many times as they have time to write NEATLY.  I walk around and point to one word for each kid to read aloud to me.  Then, I introduce two new spelling words with the same routine as Monday.

Finally, we sort our sight words (5 minutes).  We use our interactive sort to sort our sight words words by the number of letters.

Wednesdays

First, we practice phonemic awareness (7 minutes).  We follow the same routines I explained on Monday.

Second, we read through our phonics chart (3 minutes) ...either the alphabet chart, or blends chart, depending on our focus sound for the week.

Next, we practice letter naming fluency (2 minutes).  I simply click on our letter naming slide and the letters appear and the kids name them.  We review any letters that kids miss.

After that, we sort pictures (5 minutes).  We sort photos into letter sound categories.  For example, for the letter m sound, we sort pictures that begin or end with the /m/ sound.  I call on kids to sort each picture.  After the move the picture, the segment the focus sound for us.  For example, if a kid moves "ham," he moves the picture and then turns to the class and says, "Ham. Ha - MMMM."

Next, we decode our words--slippety slide style (3 minutes).  We decode 3 new words from our word list for Wednesday.

Then, we work on spelling with our break it down chant (5 minutes).  During our transition to dry erase boards, students write our words we just decoded as many times as they have time to write NEATLY.  I walk around and point to one word for each kid to read aloud to me.  Then, I introduce two new spelling words with the same routine as Monday.

Finally, we find sight words in our weekly poem (5 minutes).  The kids come back to the carpet and I draw names as we "pass the pen" to circle a sight word on the poem.  When the kid circles it, the kids chant the word and then spell it. (THE. T - H - E. THE)  If it's one of our focus sight words for the week, the kids stand up and do the motions we learned for the word on Monday.

Thursdays

First, we practice phonemic awareness (7 minutes).  We follow the same routines I explained on Monday.

Second, we read through our phonics chart (3 minutes) ...either the alphabet chart, or blends chart, depending on our focus sound for the week.

Next, we practice letter naming fluency (2 minutes).  I simply click on our letter naming slide and the letters appear and the kids name them.  We review any letters that kids miss. 3

After that, we sort words (5 minutes).  We sort words into categories.  For example, for the M letter sound, we sort them into words that begin or end with M.  I draw kids' names and they come up and move a word into the sort.  Then, they read the word to the class emphasizing the focus sound.  For example, MMMMMe.



Next, we decode our words--slippety slide style (3 minutes).  We decode 3 new words from our word list for Thursday.

Then, we review our six spelling words from Monday-Wednesday on dry erase boards (10 minutes).  We do a practice spelling test whole group on their dry erase boards.  I walk around to check words and pick one friend who writes the neatest to show us their word or write it on our board.

Finally, we practice reading our sight words fluently.   I click each column of words and the kids read them and try to keep up with the pace that the words appear.  There are 3 columns of words and in each column shows the sight words a little faster.

Fridays

Everybody knows Fridays are crazy.  Teachers are ready for the weekend.  Kids are ready for the weekend.  And it's pretty much assembly day where I'm at too!  So, Friday Phonics is short and simple.  We get our phonics poem for the week, add it to their poetry folder, and highlight our focus sound and circle sight words like we did together on Tuesday.

If we have extra time, we practice our decodable reader for the week.  You can read about how I add in routines for whole group decodable readers to extend our phonics block into our reading block in this blog post.

And if you are interested in using my interactive phonics powerpoints, you can find the bundle and in my store!

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