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Phonics Word Warm-Up

By Naomi O'Brien


Have you ever wondered exactly how your students break down words when they read them? Or how they think about word parts when it’s time to spell?

I want to share a phonics word warm-up you can do with your students to strengthen reading and spelling skills.

In order to start, your students (or children) need to at least know a few consonants and short vowel sounds.

Starting with CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words and then growing from there will be best.

What you’re doing to do is write down a word that contains phonics elements that your students are already familiar with. Write down a word they know like cat, pig, hop, or dog, and ask them to identify each letter or letters, or part of the word as something.

Ask them if they see any consonants, short vowels, long vowels or any other phonics elements you have introduced so far.

This warm-up should take less than 5 minutes and can be done daily.

If you’re wondering about a systematic way to introduce phonics, you can read about that here.

Reading and Spelling Benefits

Imagine the insight you can gain from doing a warm-up like this during whole or small group. You can focus on phonics concepts that you still need to teach, ones that need to be reviewed, or areas of weakness that some students need strengthened.

The ability to look at a word and understand how consonant blends, vowel teams, and a silent e can work to pronounce that word, can create a very successful readers. And a reader that’s able to do this, will be a speller that can also break words down like this in order to spell words as accurately as possible.

My first grade son, Noah, really impressed me!

As adults, we don’t look at words and break them down like this anymore, because many of us have a large word bank and can recall many words automatically.

Explicitly working on looking at words this way can help your students build a large word bank as well as they began to notice phonics patterns in words.

Using the Warm-Ups as A Teaching Tool

This type of warm-up can also be used to teach new skills!

Let’s say you show your students the word tiger. Maybe they can quickly identify the consonants, vowel, and even the r-controlled vowel. This could be a time to explain open and closed syllables to them. Or if they didn’t know about r-controlled vowels, you could use the warm-up to introduce the new phonics concept.

I created a resource in which I defined 19 phonics concepts and gave examples of each of them.

I printed my labels on colorful and bright paper and them laminated and cut them out. I hot glued magnets on the back in order to be able to move them around quickly and easily.

I also included labels and examples of words with their breakdowns to help get you started!

Let me know if you try this warm-up in your classroom!

Check it out here.



Hi, I'm Naomi

I have been teaching elementary students for over 10 years. Effective reading instruction and accurate social studies at the primary level are huge passions of mine! 

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