My Favorite Phonics Game for the Classroom

Want your students to BEG to practice vowel patterns?

It's seriously so easy - just turn it into a game.

HINT if you call it a game it's a game. 😉

My students BEG me to play their favorite phonics game for the classroom BAM.

It is an easy, low prep, engaging phonics game that you can even use to assess!

I'll share how and even share an extension activity!

Let's get started!

I created BAM as a way to make word sorts more fun. 

7 years ago I was a fresh untrained reading interventionist and I read somewhere 
that having students sort words focusing on vowel patterns was a good instructional practice. 

So I began to make word cards for students to sort. This was ok and good but the students got tired of it before long. One day a particularly spicy student slammed their hand down on the 
table and yelled "BAM!" Everyone jumped and I asked, "what on earth was that for"? He replied, "I don't know I just thought we needed some excitement." 

So I decided to create a game out of the cards. 

Students would draw from a pile, lay it in front of them. Read the word, if they read it correctly they get to keep it but if not it goes back into the pile.

You can even record words they missed to revisit later and see who has the Vowel Pattern fluently and who doesn't.

If they get a BAM! card they have to put ALL of their cards back (but they keep the bam card or the game will never end).

You keep playing until all of the cards are gone. Students like to then count to see how many cards they have etc. Sometimes I will give a small prize to the person with the most Bams and name them Bam king or queen just to keep it fun even if they got several bams.

The goal is fluency you want to keep the game moving.
 You can add a small sand timer if this is an issue.

To extend the learning have the students sort their cards and ask how they sorted.
 This really helps you see what part of the word students are focusing on.
Beginning sounds
Vowel Patterns etc.

Want to try it for free?

Click this link HERE to join my email list and get a FREE BAM game sent to your inbox!

Ready to purchase on TPT?
HERE is the link to the COMPLETE Bundle - every BAM game I have ever made. Great if you change grade levels, or work with multiple grade levels like I do as a Reading Specialist.

There are grade level bundles for Kindergarten, First and Second as well so you can get just what you need.

Pin For Later

Teaching Nonfiction

When Should I Teach Nonfiction?

Most curriculums have nonfiction built in but if you don't use a big box curriculum (yay) or you don't have one then it might be hard to decide when to teach nonfiction. My recommendation is that you teach nonfiction as much as you teach fiction. YES, that's correct half of your instruction should be nonfiction. My favorite way to do this after introducing both explicitly is to do paired nonfiction passages with my fiction stories.

How do I make Nonfiction More Engaging?

Another complaint I often hear is that nonfiction is boring. While I might tend to agree with you there are many students who would disagree. Both of my own boys love nonfiction and choose it regularly over fiction. Just because a genre is engaging to you the teacher doesn't mean it is engaging to our students.
To get my students to read nonfiction on their own we make lists of things they like such as horses, gymnastics, monkeys, sharks, soccer etc. Then we find books in the library about these topics that they can read. This makes for a great dewy decimal system paired unit with your librarian too!

When teaching non-fiction again I like pairing nonfiction passages with our fiction story to increase engagement. I find this helps with schema and vocabulary as well.

Using nonfiction passages on high-interest topics that are timely and relevant is another good way to make nonfiction engaging. For example, an upcoming presidential inauguration is a current event that I bet your students have heard about. A nonfiction passage on it would be a great way to both teach about it and practice nonfiction skills such as the main idea.

Where do I find Nonfiction Passages?

Finally, I get asked where can I find nonfiction passages to use with my students? There are actually several sources for nonfiction passages including Newsela, and Readworks which are both free and I have used in the past. But I kept seeing second and third graders struggle with nonfiction and score low on assessments so I created my own set of nonfiction passages written at a second-grade level which also worked well for my students in third grade that were struggling. I created passages on high-interest topics and paired them with my favorite picture books to help my students as I mentioned above! In the year-long bundle, there is also a passage of the week lesson plan and vocabulary page to use with the 

There are ten sets of passages each with at least 5 passages with answer keys which should be more than enough for the school year. The bundle includes all of the passages and extras!

Want to try a free sample? Click HERE to get the inauguration passage for free!

Want to try January's Passages shown in this post click HERE to buy.
Ready to grab the bundle? Click HERE!