Try These Phonics Games for Preschoolers to Teach Early Literacy

Phonics is a teaching method that educators have used for decades to help people learn to read by associating letters and groups of letters with very specific sounds. Though it may seem a little too complicated for toddlers, there are numerous studies touting the benefits of early literacy, and there are some excellent games out there to help you teach your youngster some phonics basics.

Rhyming Match

Because very few preschoolers can point out and recognize written letters, games that focus on associating sounds with pictures of everyday objects are a great choice. One such game called “Match the Rhyming Words” can be played at home with everyday objects or online. To play at home, gather pairs of objects with rhyming names. Things like “straw” and “claw,” for example, are great options. If you don’t have object pairs, you can find stock images online and print them out to serve as substitutes. You can also purchase board game editions of rhyming match on Amazon or in your local department store.

Pass the Sound

Pass the Sound is a relay-style race that you can play with just one child or with a few. To play alone with your child, get out a stopwatch and make a phonetic sound. Your child’s goal is to repeat that sound back to you and think up a word that starts with that sound. For example, if you say “-CH,” your child would repeat the word back and say a word like “chair” to move on to the next word. Try to see how many words he or she can come up with in two minutes. Later, when you play again, you can try to break his or her previous “record”.

To play with a group of children, you will need two adults and at least six children in two groups of three. The three children stand in two lines, and each adult gives the first child in the line a sound. The goal here is for that child to whisper the sound to the next child, and when it reaches the last child in the line, that child must call out a word that starts with the sound. You can keep score if you’d like; the first team to five points wins the game/round.


Finally, if you’d like to play a game that gets your child’s imagination going and brings some serious laughs, Back-and-Forth is a fun game for both of you. This game starts just like Pass the Sound with the adult giving the child a phonetic beginning sound such as “-DR.” Then, the adult and the child go back and forth naming off words that start with that sound. Only real words count, but the made-up ones can bring about some good laughs.

Preschoolers and toddlers may not recognize written phonics, but they are surprisingly good at recognizing and even matching sounds. This is a fantastic way to prepare your child for reading and writing in the future. The better your preschool student can express himself, and the more your child can comprehend when she reads, the more academic success he or she is likely to achieve in the future.