Today I’m going to share with you nine teaching ideas to use with your phonics posters. As you all know, an alphabet, displayed horizontally across a wall, is a standard feature in most elementary school classrooms. But have you ever asked yourself what purpose is it serving? How are my students (and I) using it, if at all? Is it contributing to student success and independence? Let’s remember, wall space is precious real estate in our classrooms.

Ideas for teaching with phonics posters

One way to make your standard alphabet wall more meaningful is to add long vowel sounds, digraphs, and blends. You can even rename it “The Sound Wall.” After all, sounds are the foundation of reading and writing.

Consider this: A preschooler who only knows the 26 letter names, knows just that. But a kindergartener who knows just six letter sounds (s, a, t, i, p, n) and how to blend them can read over 30 words!

As students learn more and more word patterns and phonetic rules, you can reflect their learning on your ever-growing sound wall with phonics posters. This is just one way to make your wall space interactive and meaningful. Keep reading for even more ideas to support your early readers using phonics posters.

Idea #1: Daily Review

Choose the phonics posters you want to focus on for the day and lead the class through a review of the sounds. This is a great morning meeting routine and can help wake up sleepy brains and bodies. Reinforcement can be done with a chant. For example, when I point to a poster, together we can say, “Adventurous anteater a-a-a, busy beaver b-b-b, cut the cake c-c-c.”

Idea #2 Kinesthetic Review

If you want to add a kinesthetic component, you and your class can create a hand motion or body movement to go with each sound. For example, for “Kk” when students chant “kind kangaroo k-k-k,” they can jump up and down three times while saying the /k/ sound.

Turning Phonics Posters into Phonics Cards

Did you know you can easily turn your phonics wall posters into smaller cards that can be used for a variety of literacy activities? There are a few ways to do this depending on the size and format of your posters.

If your posters are in digital format:

You can reduce the size of each poster and print multiple posters to a single page by adjusting the settings in the print dialog box. If you are printing as a PDF, under “Preview” select “Layout.” Then click “Pages per Sheet” and choose between 1, 2, 4, 6, 9 and 16. When I first learned about this print option, I was so excited and printed in every size possible!

If your posters are store bought:

You can make smaller cards using the copy machine. Simply put the poster on the glass of the machine, reduce the size, and make a copy.

While it takes some extra effort up front, it will be worth it in the long run because consistency is so important when learning phonics. When students can take what they’ve learned in the whole group (through the phonics posters) and reinforce it at a literacy center (through card games), they are engaging in practice that is meaningful and connected.

If you posters are too large:

You can take individual photos of each one, upload them onto your computer, resize them, and print out smaller cards.

No matter which method you use, I highly recommend that you keep a master copy, laminate your cards for longevity, and make a few extras so you can maintain complete sets of cards year after year.

Idea #3: Using them in Guided Reading

Remember when I said I printed my phonics posters in every size possible? Well, here’s what I discovered.

Printing four to a page is a nice size for laminating, hole-punching, and putting on a metal ring for easy whole class review. This size also works great for guided reading when you want to introduce a certain vowel pattern or digraph in the text as a pre-reading activity.

Idea #4 Write the Room Activities

Printing six to a page is a great size for Write the Room activities. To set this up, hang up a selection of phonics cards around the room. You don’t want to hide them, but you also don’t want to tell students where they are. It’s like a scavenger hunt.

For example, you could hang up the long vowel cards for “ai, ee, ie, oa, and ue.” With a record sheet, a pencil, and a clipboard, students walk around the room, find each card, and complete a task such as drawing a picture, writing a word, or writing a sentence that matches the card.

Idea # 5 Use Phonics Posters as Game Cards

Printing nine to a page creates cards that are perfect for games like Go Fish and Memory.

Idea #6 Take-home Flashcards

With the nine-per-a-page size, you can also give students an alphabet set to practice with at home as flashcards. On just three pages, you can print the full alphabet.

I encourage my students to cut them out, and then tape them around their house. I teach them how to play “sound/letter” tag with their families. When a parent calls out a sound or letter, the student has to run to the poster, tag it and say the sound, and run back to the parent for the next one. It’s great exercise and a fun way to practice at home!

Idea # 7 Word Wall Headers

Phonics posters printed as a smaller size can also be used as word wall headers. If you include digraph headers in your word wall, such as “th,” your students will have a much easier time finding those tricky words like “there,” “they,” and “the.”

Idea #8: Matching Puzzles

Another fun use for phonics cards is to create matching puzzles. Simply cut each card in two. One piece is the letter and the other is the image.

I recommend introducing the puzzle as a whole class activity. With a class of 24 students, you can start this game after you’ve introduced 12 sounds. Cut the cards cut apart, mix them up, and put them in a box. Invite each student to draw out a card, no peeking!

On your signal, students mingle and find their correct match. Once students have made the match, go around the room and have each pair of students say the sound for the class.

You can also use this matching game as a literacy center. Just put 8-12 phonics card pairs in a bag and you’re all set. You can rotate cards in and out as you introduce new sounds.

Idea #9: Phonics Poster Collage

You can take a constructivist approach and make phonics posters with your class. Take a large piece of chart paper and either write the sound you are working on in the middle of it or glue on a phonics card. Tell your students their mission is to fill up the chart with pictures and words that have the designated sound.

Provide your students with the weekly advertisements from grocery stores, pharmacies, toy stores, etc. I pick up a few whenever I’m in a store and save them for projects like this. I prefer these over magazines because the store ads are picture heavy and have big and bold fonts, which is perfect for young learners. You can also provide your students with sticky notes, so they can draw and write their own pictures and words to add to the poster.

If you do a phonics college every time you introduce a letter, you will quickly run out of wall space! Therefore, I like to take a picture of each collage and print it out on an 8.5×11 piece of paper. You can laminate it, hole punch it, and bind it with metal rings to create an expandable class phonics book. Students will love looking at this book with each other. It becomes another form of “I Spy” as they try to find the picture or word they add on each page.

Using your phonics posters in interactive ways will engage your students and provide a solid foundation for reading.

You can find my comprehensive set of Phonics Posters and Chants here.

phonics posters with chants

And if you’re looking for more hands-on activities for teaching long vowel teams, check out my post here.

Lastly, I’d like to invite you to sign-up for my free newsletter. Not only will you get a free set of my Blends Phonics Posters once you join, you will also receive many other freebies, teaching ideas, sales announcements, and more. Get the free blend posters here.

I hope you find these teaching ideas helpful. I’d love to hear the creative ways that you use phonics posters in your classroom. Please share and comment below.

Written by a Guest Teacher

Thanks for visiting The Candy Class blog. Happy teaching!

On a Mission to Improve Literacy


2 Responses

  1. Do you have the beginning Phonic Posters for each letter sound in your free Library?
    I could really use them now.
    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Many thanks.