Whenever we need some quiet time at home or an independent reading station in kindergarten, I bust out the kids' favorite independent reading activities for a minimum stress, maximum fun learning time.
All 3 of these independent reading activities have many ways to differentiate to meet the needs of all your young learners and build their phonics skills. So whether you're working on beginning and ending sounds, letters, CVC word reading, or digraphs like "sh" and "ch," I've got something for you.
Without further ado, the 3 most begged for independent reading activities are...
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Get ready to sit back and watch kids get excited to practice reading all on their own. You might even have time to sit down and drink coffee while it's still hot. The best part? It's all hands-on!
Kids dream of the day they'll get to drive, so bring that dream to life with phonics parking lots. It's so simple, you'll need 10 plastic cars, hot wheels, or trains you have lying around the house.
If you don't have ten little cars you can usually pick them up from the dollar store or here on Amazon.
Print out the 3 beginning sound parking lots or the 3 ending sounds parking lots and you're almost ready to play. Just label the cars with the 10 necessary letters using a dry erase or sharpie.
All the beginning sound parking lots use the same letters, and the ending sounds have the same letters on each of their mats too! This makes it so you only would need to change the letters on the cars when you're ready to move from beginning to ending sounds.
I love this game because kids are SO psyched to play and can do so independently. So they're working on their phonemic isolation (isolating sounds in words), while I can step back and beam with pride.
Kids can play this independent reading activity with a partner or on their own. You don't need anything but a sharpie, crayon, and popsicle sticks.
Prep this quick independent reading activity in 5 steps:
Once you teach this game to your kids or students, they'll know how to play forever. This makes it the easiest independent reading center. They see the popsicle sticks, and you barely have to say a word!
Just print and play. Kids freak out when you share they'll be reading and building based on the words they have on their cups.
The Cup Stacking Challenge bundle comes with 4 building challenges per vowel and digraph. So you get stacking cards that focus on CVC words and digraphs ch and sh. The set comes with 7 sheets of challenges, focusing on each of the vowels in CVC words and the two digraphs.
Each challenge requires only 6 cups. Use either plastic or paper to write the words listed at the bottom of that challenge's sheet. Below is an example with the "i" words using paper cups and the "sh" words using plastic cups.
Download your bundle now to start playing these independent reading activities that kids beg for!
Most kids begin reading in kindergarten at the age of 5 or 6. What does "reading" look like at this age? Well, in kindergarten kids by sounding out simple 3 letter words using their knowledge of letters and sounds. They also read words they have explicitly memorized aka sight words.
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Kids in The Fun Club can read this to you!
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The AN word family words are perfect for practicing with your kindergartner as they begin to sound out words.
Word Families are sets of words that have the same ending and rhyme. The ending of words in a word family is commonly referred to as the "root."
Children have more success when reading words that are familiar, so by having kids reads words that have the same end, they can decode the sounds with increased speed. Studies have shown that learning to read word families develops vocabulary, as well as children's ability to recognize patterns in words, ultimately leading them to read with greater understanding and speed.
To grab your list of AN words, click the list below or continue reading for more AN words printable worksheets.
It's no secret that I'm not a fan of worksheets, but I also know that teachers often use worksheets as homework to reinforce skills learned in the classroom. Here are some printable worksheets that would help strengthen reading skills, followed by some hands-on ways to teach the AN family words.
If you've read my blog before, you know that I would never share worksheets without sharing ACTIVITIES that make learning these words even more fun.
Got a child who cringes when you show them a worksheet? That's okay! Try any of these activities to make practicing reading AN words more hands-on and exciting for young learners. You can use these games with any word families!
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The AT word family is one of the first sets of words young children learn to read, usually in kindergarten. These words are practiced as part of a word family.
A word family is a set of words with the same ending. The words in a word family always rhyme.
Here is a downloadable list of words from the AT word family. Just click to download and read on for some great printable worksheets and activities to teach the words in the AT word family.
When kids are first starting to read, they usually begin reading CVC words. CVC stands for consonant vowel consonant words.
The AT word family is one of the first, if not THE first, family of words children practice reading in school. Since “a” is the first letter of the alphabet, children are usually most familiar with its sound out of the vowels: a, e, i, o, and u. “T” is also another sound kids more easily remember.
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These FREE downloadable worksheets will help your child build fluency with the words in the AT family.
When working with the list and flashcards in the printable packet, I recommend using the 3 letter CVC words for beginning readers. The 4 letter words (CCVC words) are only for a challenge.
There are so many hands-on ways to use the AT word family flashcards for activities and games that your kid will love. I find that just going through the flashcards can be boring, so check out the activities we played with them below!
Page 1 of 2 Flashcards
Okay so I usually call this game, SWAT it, but it didn't rhyme, SPLAT the AT word it is!
Use those flashcards you just printed out and call out a word. Kids love getting permission to make something go SPLAT! Make sure to use blue painters tape so you don't ruin your walls!
Kids absolutely love muffin pan spelling so if you're looking to try this with other word families you can find more picture cards there. We use any muffin pan and these soft and magnetic Coogam letters.
Try this game with one of two ways:
Create a word ladder listing all the words you can think of that rhyme with at! Display them with Post-its, flashcards, or these cute paint chip cards.
Using the picture and word flashcards from the AT word packet, play a classic game of memory. Take turns flipping two cards and if they match, you keep them. Continue flipping them over till all are gone.
This is pretty intuitive, but a simple sorting game can be great practice. Read the word and match it with the picture.
As kids sound out the words, they're practicing their phonics letter/sound association, but they also need to be able to BLEND those three sounds together to make the word, which is a very important phonemic awareness skill that lots of people don't know to practice.
Let's really lean in to that family part of "word family." All these words live together! So let's give them a house.
I created this printer friendly (black and white) decodable book to help kids practice reading words in the -at family. It’s FREE to print and use with your child. They can even color it in. Maybe it’ll be the very first book they read!
Kids are expected to read most CVC (consonant vowel consonant words) at the end of kindergarten based on Kindergarten Common Core Standard CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.2.D. Since the AT family is usually the first set of words children learn to decode (sound out) independently, they are likely to begin reading these words around the middle of kindergarten.
But I want to make sure I say that everyone is different and that's okay! Not all kids will read these words in kindergarten.
According to understood.org, "Not all kids develop reading skills at the same rate. Taking longer doesn’t mean they’re not on track to become good readers." That's a very important reminder for parents in this world where we are constantly comparing ourselves and our kids.
Other families to work on after the -at word family would be the -ag, -ad, -am, and -an families.
I've created these activities and printables for the -an word family just for you!
The letters in all these families use the usual phonetic sounds for each letter so they don’t confuse beginning readers (unlike the -ar and-as word families where there are letters making irregular sounds like the “a” in far and the “s” in has).
Hands on learning is my secret to teaching reading so kids are never bored!
I NEVER use workbooks or worksheets.
When I say "hands on learning," I mean any kind of learning where your child is actively participating in creating new knowledge or solving a problem. This is also called learning by doing. From your own childhood, did you ever really learn something from a worksheet? I remember the projects, the games, the activities that got me and my classmates up and moving, creating, and solving problems.
Hidden Object is a hands on learning game that combines reading skills with a fun, element of surprise.
What you'll need-
On the Post-its, write the letters your child is learning. If you're child is just starting to recognize letters, I recommend starting with the letters of their name.
In this version, children will either say the letter name or the letter sounds as they lift each bowl on the hunt for the hidden object.
Another idea would be to include words that have a new sound they've just learning like digraphs: sh, wh, th, and ch.
This simple hands on game can be used for so many different skills: letter sounds, letter identification, sight words, CVC words, digraphs, etc.
In this instance, Big Sis was practicing reading CVC words (consonant vowel consonant words) that had different vowels in the middle. If I notice her struggling with a specific vowel or letter sound, I would put more words with those sounds on the Post its.
Whenever I discuss early literacy skills like reading CVC words and sight words, I want to reinforce that all the games and wonderful activities are only part of the reading puzzle. The biggest thing you can do for your child to have success with reading from an early age is read to them everyday.
Like teaching your child through hands on learning games? Want to teach you 4-5 year old to read using hands on learning? Check out The Fun Club! Subscribe for a free week of activities right now!
Wondering how to teach CVC words to the young learners in your life? Let's do it, the fun way. Instead of using worksheets to teach CVC words, I'll share with you the top hands-on activities that really get kids excited about reading.
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CVC words are the building blocks of kindergarten reading and writing. CVC stands for consonant-vowel-consonant. These are the first words that kids read by decoding, otherwise known as sounding out.
CVC words make sense to kindergarten readers, because they are phonetic and don't have any tricky sounds or rules. Examples of CVC words include Bob, mat, kit, peg, fog. As you read these words you'll notice that each letter makes its phonetic sound; there are no long vowels or tricky digraphs like sh/ch/th. That's why CVC words are the words your child should be reading first.
Most children learn "a" as their first vowel. For that reason I recommend teaching kids to sound out CVC words that have an "a" in the middle first. Stick with one word family like the -am, -ad, or -at word family (you'll want these freebies).
The first 7 activities are best for how to teach CVC words to beginners. Activities 7-10 focus on how to teach CVC word families and are better for children who are successfully sounding CVC words out with independence.
All you need are letters, a muffin pan, and these epic picture cards for 4 ways to play. You can grab the cvc words list with pictures here.
When I discovered magnetic bingo chips, I nearly lost my mind. This is one of the most engaging ways I have used for how to teach CVC words. Print out the FREE CVC words cards. Then place one magnetic bingo chip on each dot. Finally give your child their magnetic wand to touch each of the chips with as they sound out the word. Viola!
Where could it be? Read the word and lift the cup. This hands on reading game is perfect for beginners, since you can play with as many or as few CVC words as you'd like, preventing visual overwhelm!
KindergartenWorksheetsandGames.com brings this hands on game where kids have to find the beginning sound for each picture to crack the code. Once the pictures are complete, they reveal a CVC word at the bottom. How fun!
An important part of how to teach CVC words is not just blending the words but for children to understand the word they just read. In this magnetic letter game, kids will make their own CVC words and determine whether or not they're real words or silly words.
The Coogam magnet letters are perfect to use when teaching CVC words, because the vowels are red and the consonants are blue, making it really easy for children to make their own CVC words.
For additional practice with nonsense CVC words, you have got to check out this video version of the Real or Silly word game by the extremely silly Mr. B's brain.
Got a wiggly kid in need of reading practice? They'll love this SPLAT the CVC word game as you call out CVC words and they make them go SPLAT! Use 5 words with beginners and increase as they build fluency (that means are able to read faster).
Rather than matching CVCs on a worksheet, let's make it FUN! Grab your free CVC words with pictures HERE and play a classic game of memory or give each student one card and have them find their partner! There are so many ways to practice reading CVC words with these pictures and words.
Kids love any kind of activity where they get to go on a "hunt," right? So if you've got an active kiddo, this is JUST how to teach CVC words so they'll be super into it. First hide the Post-its around the house or classroom; then have your child find them and return them to the home base.
Write CVC words in from 3 different word families on dot stickers, then place the stickers on the Duplos. Next, hide the Duplo bricks around the house and have your little one find them.
Then comes the reading part. Each brick must be sorted with the ones in its word family. Once all the bricks in the family are reunited, build a tower with them to complete the game.
This fun game is ICanTeachMyChild.com's take on how to teach CVC words, and it is ridiculously fun. You're going to need some ping pong balls and containers to try to match the words on the ping pong balls to the word family cups.
Children usually begin reading CVC words in kindergarten, when they are 4-6 years old. If you're looking for a program that WILL teach your child to read with hands-on games and activities, that's easy for parents and fun for kids, check out our signature program The Fun Club.
Here are the skills your child should be able to do in order to begin reading CVC words:
My favorite book series for beginning readers that I recommend to every family are the Bob books. Their books are truly decodable, so there are no tricky words that make kids confused.
I cannot recommend the BOB series enough because the books are simple, short, and not too many words on the page. They combine CVC words and sight words to create fun and easy to follow stories kids enjoy.
I use these books for all my kindergarteners and my own child. You betcha I cry every single time one of them reads a whole book for the first time!
Teachers begin teaching CVC words in kindergarten, once children have learned their letters and sounds.
CVC stands for consonant vowel consonant. These words are the simplest words to sound out aka decode.
Here are four CVC word games for kindergarten from least to most difficult. All of them use a muffin pan and CVC words with pictures.
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Check out my shop to get my CVC words with pictures.pdf.
For this activity in particular, I recommend using words from the AT Word Family for the most beginning readers. The AT Word Family is one of the very first word families children are taught to read.
Not only do kids practice their beginning sound knowledge with this game, they also are building awareness of the other sounds in the word.
The beauty of the muffin pan is that it breaks down each word into 3 components: the CVC -consonant, vowel, consonant parts. Similarly to a story, each word has its beginning, middle, and end.
To play, place each CVC word's picture by the corresponding line on the muffin pan. Point out how the middle and ending sounds are there, but the beginning sound is missing.
First have your child choose a beginning sound matching the picture.. Then model how to sound out the word: /b/ /a/ /g/. Finally, blend the sounds together to make the whole CVC word.
It's okay if your child cannot yet blend the sounds together.
Having you model pointing to each letter from left to right while saying the sound will greatly enhance their understanding of the steps it takes to read a word.
In this version, everything is the same except the ending sounds missing from the CVC words.
It might seem we have gone a bit out of order by skipping the middle sounds. However, middle sounds are the most difficult to isolate since vowels are similar in sound.
Have your kindergartner isolate the ending sound of the word, then find the matching letter and complete the word. Don't stop just there! Point to each letter from left to right and sound out the word before blending the sounds together to make the complete CVC word.
Teaching CVC words in kindergarten is a snap when you break it down letter by letter.
In the example, kids are given the four letters that are the correct ending sounds. But, if you're child is ready for a challenge, you can include more letters (up to 10) for them to choose from!
If you're looking for more ending sounds activities that kids will love to get their hands on, try these.
Isolating middle sounds to complete the CVC words is a trickier skill to practice. This is because vowels have multiple sounds and often sound similar for young learners.
Accordingly, we stick to teaching CVC words with short vowel sounds: bat, rat, dog, fog first. Kids wait until first grade to practice words like car and for (where the vowels don't make their short vowel sound.)
In kindergarten we teach kids two ways to isolate and listen for the middle sounds in CVC words:
One of my favorite strategies for stretching out the word is to speak "Whale" like Dory in Finding Nemo. Certainly, if your child has seen that movie, they'll know just what to do. Really stretch out the CVC word and listen for the middle sound.
Like with ending sounds, you can offer just the 4 missing middles or give them a chance to pick out the right ones out of all the letters!
To learn more about isolating beginning, middle, and ending sounds, check out these sound isolation activities.
In my house, I'm known for sitting around with my Cup Of Noodles. So my kids' dubbed this version of the game: Cup of Wordles.
This activity is the culmination of teaching CVC words in kindergarten! The kids have to build the entire word themselves. It's still very simple since there are only 4 words to build at a time, and the kids have the letters to choose from.
In 4 cups, I put the letters needed to make each of the words. Then I place each cup in the beginning sound spot of the muffin pan.
Kids choose a cup and unscramble the letters in it to make the word on the matching CVC word picture card. Then, they check their work by sounding out the letters to read the CVC word.
The Cup of Wordles title is just another engaging way to engage the kids in play. They could be bakers, chefs, or home cooks in the kitchen using their letter ingredients to make delicious words.
Now that you have your CVC words with pictures, why not practice some more reading? Your kindergartener will thank you for playing these simple and fun CVC word games.