How to Help Kids Develop Language Skills With Games And Word Activities

Have you ever reflected back on why you teach the way you do? What made you use that story? How did you know what to do when a certain situation arose? Could you have approached things in a different way?

Teaching kids language skills so they are able to communicate effectively can be complicated at times. There are so many different experiences and abilities to take into consideration.

I started to do some self reflection and realized that some of my most valuable lessons and ideas have come from raising my own children. As I stumbled through those first few years helping them learn to talk, read, write, and self regulate, I found myself creating a toolkit of skills and resources that would ultimately go with me into the classroom.

Who knew those constant "why ......? questions would shape my teaching for years to come.
I have 4 children and as might be expected, they all learn differently. What worked for one child didn't necessarily work the same way for the others. Sounds like most classroom situations, right? That means that we need to have multiple ways to approach each situation so that we can help all our students to be successful as they learn.

Language development

​Let's focus on language development for today. 

Language development requires being able to recognize sounds, letters, and how all of this goes together to communicate. 

​One of the best ways to help children develop strong language skills is to combine oral communication with phonemic awareness and phonics instruction. By combining all of these elements, you can create a powerful tool for teaching language development.

When it comes to teaching language development skills, phonemic awareness and phonics are two of the most important concepts for primary teachers to understand. Simply put, phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate individual sounds in spoken words. Phonics is the relationship between those sounds and the letters that represent them.

How we approach teaching these skills will vary depending on the abilities of our students, our teaching styles, and of course access to resources and support available.
​There are many different ways to approach phonemic awareness and phonics instruction. Some teachers prefer to work on phonemic awareness activities first, and then move on to teaching phonics. Others teach phonics from the beginning, using games and activities to make it fun and engaging for students.

Whichever approach you choose, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, it's important to make sure that your students are comprehending what you're teaching them. Second, be sure to provide plenty of opportunities for practice. And finally, don't forget to mix things up now and then- kids learn best when they're having fun!

Phonemic awareness and phonics activities

​There are a variety of phonemic awareness and phonics activities that you can do with your students. Here are a few ideas.

Word work activities are a great way to practice phonemic awareness and phonics skills. Word family activities, segmenting and blending, for example, help students learn about how individual sounds come together to form words. These activities are essential for helping students develop phonemic awareness and phonics skills.

One way to introduce phonemic awareness is through rhyming games. You can start by saying a word and having your child say a word that rhymes with it. As they get better at identifying rhyming words, you can start saying a series of words and have them identify the word that doesn't rhyme. This will help them to start thinking about the individual sounds in words.

Another popular activity is called "sound swapping". To do this, you'll need a list of words that all begin with the same sound (for example, hat, ham, hog). Write each word on a separate sheet of paper or index card. Then mix up the cards and have your students draw one from a pile. The goal is for them to read the word aloud and then swap out one of the phonemes (sounds) to create a new word. For example, if they draw the word "hog," they might change the /h/ sound to a /t/ sound to create the word "tog." This activity is great for practicing phonemic awareness skills while also reinforcing letter-sound relationships.
Word families activities are a great way to reinforce phonics skills.  A word family is a group of words that share the same ending sound (-at, -an, -ig, etc.). You can introduce word families by reading aloud a list of words from the same family (-at words: cat, hat, rat, bat). Then challenge your students to come up with additional words from that same family (-at words: mat, sat). Once they've had some practice with this, you can start mixing things up by having them create words from different families (-am words: jam, ham) .

Word family activities not only help students understand how different letter combinations can create new sounds; they also provide valuable practice in blending and segmenting words - two essential skills for reading success!

My son loved to try and read words he saw around him and he liked to have me make word lists and tape them to his closet door from the time he was a toddler. I still remember all the "ss" word lists. He would read through them and try to figure out other words that might go in each list.
Read alouds are a great way to model phonemic awareness and phonics skills for students. When you read aloud, pay attention to the rhythm and flow of the words. Point out how the different sounds come together to form words. You can also do some fun language activities together, like clapping out the syllables in words or finding words that start with the same sound.

My daughter used to listen to me read books to her and then she would record herself reading the books. I was amazed at how well she was able to copy the intonation and fluency from an early age. It goes to show the importance of reading aloud to help with language development and oral communication.
The concept of print is also important for primary students to understand, as it helps them to make connections between what they see on a page and the words that correspond to those images.

​Sight word games help students to learn how letter-sound relationships work. For example, students might be asked to match pictures with words or to identify words that begin with a certain sound. These games are not only fun for students, but they also help them to develop a better understanding of how written language works.
Here are several themed sight word sets and activities that may be helpful.

The importance of phonemic awareness and phonics cannot be overstated. These skills are essential for language development and reading comprehension. Without them, students would have difficulty understanding spoken or written language.

The ultimate goal of phonemic awareness and phonics instruction is to improve reading comprehension. So go ahead and get started on some fun phonemic awareness and phonics activities with your students today!

This is a sampler of alphabet sounds game board that is free for my newsletter subscribers. If you are already a subscriber, you will find it in my followers free resources tab. If you are interested in the full resource, you can find it here.
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