Make your Phonics Centers Engaging and Fun!

Hi everyone! My name is Kristina Harrill and I blog over at Sweet for Kindergarten! I have been a Kindergarten teacher for 5 years and I love helping other teachers find engaging and hands on activities. Kindergarten is where my heart is and I’m so happy I get to share my ideas with you all. Thank you so much Classroom and Cats for letting me guest post on your blog today! 

My two favorite parts of Kindergarten are teaching phonics and centers, so today I am going to share how you can make your phonics centers engaging AND fun! 

#1: Let them move!

Don’t be afraid to let them move around during centers. When many of you think of centers, students usually stay in one place until the timer goes off. Write the Room activities are a great way to get them moving during centers and still learning. Just make sure to lay a few ground rules, for example, they are not allowed to talk to kids at other stations. It is also a good idea to hang up the cards away from other centers. You can read more about how I use write the room successfully on my blog here.


Here is a Write the Room freebie you can try out in your own classroom!

#2: Add in fun “manipulatives”

Centers should be hands on and should never consist of only completing worksheets at their desk. The best centers are the ones with fun “manipulatives” to help students learn! You can find many of these manipulatives at the dollar store, Goodwill, Amazon, Target, or you might already even have a bunch in your classroom. 


Here are some of my go to phonics manipulatives: 

  • Magnetic Letters
  • Dice
  • Stamps
  • Play-Dough
  • Letter TIles
  • Bingo Dabber
  • Clothespins

#3: Practice those Fine Motor Skills

In Kindergarten, your students are still developing their fine motor skills. It is SO important that they practice these skills every day! They need to build those hand and finger muscles. These activities can help them achieve that. 


•Play Dough Mats

Have your students roll the play dough, like a snake. Using that roll of dough, they can form letters to practice letter recognition or spelling words. 


•Cut and Paste Sorts

Have your students use scissors to cut out the picture pieces, then glue each picture to sort it under the correct category. These were my favorite kind of worksheet to use, because it was a quick and easy informal assessment to see if they were understanding that week’s phonics skill. 

#4: Write and Wipe

Give a kid a dry erase marker and they will be entertained for hours! This is the EASIEST way to turn a worksheet into a fun practice activity that they can complete again and again. Not to mention, you will be saving paper because you only need one copy! I found these clear pockets on Amazon, but you can also use sheet protectors!


Mini whiteboards are another easy last minute center. Have your students write words that have a specific vowel pattern, think of words that have the same beginning sound, or draw two pictures that rhyme. This is also a great way to challenge those early finishers.

#5 Get Digital

If you have iPads or tablets, there are plenty of free and paid apps to practice phonics. Here are a few of my favorite apps. (Most are free, but some you will need to pay in order to access the full app.) You can click on the name to check them out!


If you have a SMART Board or projector, one of my favorite things was to do roll and read at that center! Students will love being able to read the word and cross it off using the SMART Board. 

I hope you found some easy and engaging phonics center ideas to try out in your classroom! If you are interested in the phonics activities seen on this post, you can grab this yearlong bundle of phonics center activities here!  

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