Monday, February 1, 2016

Phonics Concepts Sequence

Hi, friends!  I hope you all had a restful weekend.  It's been very mild here in Ohio this weekend.  It has felt strange not wearing a coat!  However, I hear that winter is on its way again next week!  I had a fun weekend with my family in my hometown.  I have a 20 month old niece who is a little spitfire and she keeps us all entertained when we get together!  

I hope you have some time today or this week to sit down and read some of the great blog posts in the First Grade I Teach Linky party!  I had a hard time coming up with a topic for today's post...I never know what you, my readers, want to hear more about!  I was racking my brain and it dawned on me that I have received many emails over the past 6 years of blogging where people are wanting to know about my phonics scope and sequence.  I will tell you that up until a few years ago, I, too struggled with  knowing the proper "sequence" to teach all of the phonics skills that we teach in first grade.  No one ever gave us an order.  I've read many literacy books over the years and I have yet to find THE CORRECT SEQUENCE.  I developed my own sequence with what I know best about: kids and early literacy.  *NOTE:  I am not an expert!  I am just sharing the sequence in which I teach the skills. Take it or leave it!   

This post is written with the assumption that your first graders have come to you with a solid foundation in letter sounds, rhyming, syllables, etc...We all know that what we get is a grab bag of levels.  Some non-readers, some advanced readers, and some emergent readers.  Because of this, I teach guided reading groups as well as whole-group phonics instruction.  Today I will be sharing my sequence for whole-group instruction.  Keep in mind that if your kids are ready, you can absolutely push ahead and move faster!

Review letter sounds/Alphabet order
  • We typically start school in mid-August.  Does a month and a half seem extreme for letter sound review?  Maybe, I am a BIG stickler for classroom management and establishing procedures.  I don't typically start my formal curriculum instruction until a few weeks into the year, so I'm not really teaching letter sounds for 6 weeks!  In addition, I teach in a low-income school.  Many of my students do not have books at home and most do not read during the summer.  I find if I don't take time to review letter sounds, I set myself up for a disaster of a year as far as phonics and reading go. 
  • During this time, we review the alphabet daily by chanting the sounds, playing games, and doing center activities that focus on the letters/sounds.

Short vowels 
  • This is when I hit all 5 short vowel sounds hard.   I introduce a vowel a week and we do games, centers, and all kinds of practice with the most frequent word families that accompany them. After I have reviewed all 5 vowels and word families,  I take a week to review them all.  This helps secure mastery.

  • Now that we have a solid foundation and we've been *reminded* of our letters, sounds, and cvc words, we move on to blends and digraphs.  I like to start with blends, because they are easier.  We spend some time hitting them hard...same routine as above {games and center activities}.  I also do a lot of white-board practice, where I call out the words and the kids write them on their slates.  I typically teach s-blends, r-control blends, and l-blends whole group.  
  • As far as digraphs go, I teach sh,ch,th,wh,and ph.  Lots of practice discriminating between the digraphs, as kids oftentimes mix them up.  Lots of picture and sound sorts, games, and center activities.

  • We move onto more challenging phonics skills as we near the semester.  The diphthongs I hit are:  oo/oo, ou/ow, ar/or/ur/er, oi/oy.  I also add in -ing and -all.  I spend a week per diphthong team {ie: oo/oo for a week, ou/ow for a week, etc...}.  This consists of many word sorts, white board practice, games, and centers.  

Magic e
  • January always begins with magic e!  To me, the semester is the most developmentally appropriate time to teach this.  The kids are ready; they have a strong foundation of letter sounds and manipulation and seem to catch on quickly.  We love practicing magic e on our word mats and white boards.  Lots of games are incorporated, as well.  *Do you see a game theme here?  I would die if I couldn't teach Phonics with games!!!  

Vowel Teams
  • In the winter months, after kids are secure with the concept of magic e, I move onto vowel teams.  I always start with long a and move onto long i, long o, and end with long u.  I also spend a week reviewing all vowel teams once they've been taught.  The vowel teams I teach are:  ay/ai/a_e, i_e,/igh/y as i, oa/ow/o_e, ui/ew/u_e.  

Silent Letters & Hard and Soft Letters {C & G} 
  • In the spring, we move on to more difficult word patterns.  I introduce silent letters and focus on kn and wr.  I also teach kids about hard and soft letters c and g.  More games.  More center activities.  More practice!  
  • As with anything in first grade, we spiral review.  End of the year centers include any of the above phonics skills.  This is also the time to go back and re-teach those that your kids are struggling with.
With all phonics skills mentioned above, I include a youtube video to correlate {if I can find one}. Between the Lions is a favorite channel/website for songs.  We watch the clip that goes with our study every day for the week.  In addition, I do a poem of the week.  It also matches our study of the week.  On Fridays, the kids take a spelling test with words covering the patterns we've hit in class that week.  I like to have it all tied together so the kids REMEMBER!  

I hope that you found this post useful.  Feel free to email me at if you have further questions or want to know more about any of the photos and activities shown above. You can check out more great ideas below!


Linda Nelson @ Primary Inspiration said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Thanks for including so many photos of your great activities, Megan! BTW, like you, I'm a big fan of Between the Lions for phonics!

Linda at Primary Inspiration

nicole sanchez said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Thanks for sharing your awesome ideas and for participating in our collaborative linky. :)
Nicole and Eliceo

Michelle Dupuis said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Month by month ideas! Wow! Thanks for sharing!

Michelle Dupuis said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Month by month ideas! Wow! Thanks for sharing!

Practice Makes Perfect said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Thanks for sharing your great ideas. Love seeing the ideas in action through photos!

Mona said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

We have a similar sequence that we follow. I love the idea of including the YouTube videos. I'll have to check out Between the Lions. Great ideas and I love your photographs.
First Grade Schoolhouse

Em Hutchison said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

The sequence is so tricky!! Thanks for sharing what you do!

Amy O said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Do you have a product that you sell that bundles all the phonics together since you laid out the sequence I would love to pick up something that gets me from start to finish.

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