5 fun activities for phonics instruction

5 Fun and Engaging Phonics Activities for CVC Words For First Grade

The science of Reading is a big topic in our world as teachers! It focuses on the comprehension aspect of a story, phonics, and phonemic awareness. This can be daunting when looking for activities for students to do in word work stations or phonics stations. 

So in this post, I will share with you five engaging phonics activities that I use in the classroom with my engaging centers and that my first-grade students love. 

Phonics vs. Phonemic Awareness

First, what is the difference between Phonics and Phonemic Awareness? Well, let me walk you through the difference!

Phonemic Awareness is the understanding that spoken words are made of different sounds. This focuses more on the hearing and speaking part of language development. This is the first step in teaching students sounds to students. 

Phonics is the second step, focusing on the relationship between letters and sounds. This teaches students sound-spelling relationships, which students use to help decode words. 

In short:

Phonemic Awareness = is spoken and focuses on hearing and speaking

Phonics = is written and focuses on hearing, speaking, and seeing to decode unfamiliar words. 

What Are Some Phonics Activities?

There are many great activities that you can use to help your students engage with their CVC phonics skills and have fun learning too! The five activities I will share are ones my students love and I use all the time in my word work/phonics stations!

encoding vs. decoding

Some activities are great for encoding (writing), and some for decoding (reading). 

I Spy for CVC Words

This is a fun decoding activity. They have a page filled with pictures with short vowel sounds. They have a targeted list that they need to look at. In the example below, students need to find short words on the list and color in pictures that match the word on the list. Once they find the word and color it in, they can check it off the list. This is an excellent way for students to practice decoding basic CVC words!

I spy game for cvc words

Write the Room for CVC Words

This is one of my student’s favorite activities! It gets them up and moving around the room and is perfect for encoding. Students start with a paper that has numbers and blank lines. You place the pictures around the room and have the students match the card with the number on their paper. Then they write the word down on their paper. 

Using this picture, students look at the picture of a sub. Students sound it out and then write it down on the number one on their paper. Then they move on to find all the words in the room and write them on the list. 

Mapping Out Short Vowels

This is the perfect activity for not only encoding and decoding words. First, students sound out the word, look at the picture, map it with magnetic letters, and write them in the boxes. 

In the example in this picture, students would sound out the letters in bat ( /b//a//t/). Then they would blend the word and say it. Next, the students would use magnetic letters to place the letters in each box. Once they have finished setting the letters in the boxes, they write each letter in the box. 

Splat! For CVC Words

This is an engaging and fun decoding game for your students. Simply put cards with a sound pattern (ex: short a) in a bag or a box. Then students draw a card and then read the word on the card. If they read it correctly, they get to keep it. If not, they must return the card to the pile. They keep going until they get a card that says, “SPLAT!” Then they have to replace all the cards they have collected into the pile. Kids keep going until they get all the words and no “splat!”

Roll, Say, Write for CVC Words

Are you looking for an excellent encoding game? Roll, Say, Write is a perfect game to play. You just need a piece of paper, a pencil, and a die. Students simply roll the dice, and whatever number they roll, they look at the first open box in that column, look at the picture, say the word aloud, and then spell the word on the blank line.

In the picture above, a student would roll the number 2. Then they would look at the first box and see that it is sub. They would say the word sub and then write sub underneath the picture. They keep going until the pictures have been encoded.  

Fun and Engaging Phonics Games

There are many great activities that you can use to help your students engage with their CVC phonics skills and have fun learning too! There are so many that you can use. I Spy, mapping out words, write the room, Splat! and Read, Say, Write are ones my students love, and I use them all the time in my word work/phonics stations!

These activities combine encoding (writing) and decoding (reading) practice skills. If you’d like to try these, click here for a link to my store.

Comment below with your favorite classroom phonics activity you like to use! 

YouTube Video

8 Phonics Stations You Can Use


No Prep CVC Short Vowel Centers

Brain Break with Short Vowels Kindergarten and First Grade

Brain Break Short Vowels Pound, Clap, Grab!

Portable Word Wall Short Vowels

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Hi, I'm Meg!

I have ben teaching in the classroom for over 15 years! I love teaching math and finding new and engaging ways to teach my students.

When I am not teaching you can find me at Target, at a baseball game (GO Nats!), binge watching fun shows, or snuggling with my cats!

Let's Connect!

Click on the image for your FREE Math Workshop Model Workbook!