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3 Super Fun Phonics Activities for ESL Educators

As an ESL educator, you understand the significance of creating engaging and interactive lessons for your students. But how can you make sure phonics teaching is fun and works? Well it does take a lot of work, but we're here to help!

For starters, here are three incredibly entertaining phonics activities along with instructions. Let's get started!

Phonics Bingo

  • Materials:

    • Bingo Cards: You can create these yourself using cardstock or heavy paper. Each card should have a grid of squares, with each square containing a different phoneme or blend.

    • Markers: These can be anything small and non-toxic that students can use to mark their cards. You could use counters, buttons, or even small pieces of paper.

    • Phonemes or Blends List: This is a list of the phonemes or blends that you will call out during the game. Make sure these correspond to the ones on the bingo cards.

  • Instructions: Create bingo cards with different phonemes or blends written in each square. Distribute the cards and markers to the students. Call out a phoneme or blend from your list. Students mark the corresponding square on their card if it’s present. The first student to mark off a complete row or column and shout “Bingo!” is the winner.

  • Gameplay: The game continues until someone gets a “Bingo”. You can also play multiple rounds, introducing new phonemes or blends each time.

  • Tips: To make the game more challenging, you can use more complex phonemes or blends. You can also vary the winning conditions (e.g., requiring two lines, a full house, etc.).

Phonics Scavenger Hunt

  • Materials:

    • List of Phonetic Sounds or Letters: This list should contain a variety of phonetic sounds or letters that students will be searching for. You can tailor this list to the specific phonics rules you’re teaching.

    • Paper and Pens: Each student will need a piece of paper and a pen to write down the items they find that correspond to each sound or letter.

  • Instructions: Prepare a list of different phonetic sounds or letters. Give each student a copy of the list, along with a paper and pen. Students must find items that start with each sound or letter on the list and write them down. The first student to find an item for each sound or letter is the winner.

  • Gameplay: This activity can be done in the classroom, at home, or even on a field trip. It encourages students to explore their surroundings and apply their phonics knowledge in a real-world context.

  • Tips: To ensure fairness, set clear rules about what constitutes a valid item. For example, you might specify that items must be tangible objects, not abstract concepts or names.

Phonics Charades

  • Materials:

    • List of Words or Sounds: This list should contain words or sounds that incorporate the phonics rules you’re teaching. These will be the words or sounds that students will act out.

    • Performance Area: This can be any open space in your classroom where students can perform their charades. Make sure there’s enough room for students to move around safely.

  • Instructions: Prepare a list of words or sounds that incorporate the phonics rules you’re teaching. Divide the students into teams. One student from a team acts out a word or sound without speaking, while their teammates try to guess the word or sound. Teams take turns acting out and guessing. Each correct guess earns a point for the team.

  • Gameplay: The game continues until all words or sounds have been acted out. The team with the most points at the end is the winner.

  • Tips: To make the game more challenging, you can use longer words or more complex phonics rules. You can also impose a time limit for guessing to add an element of excitement.

Incorporating these 3 super fun phonics activities into your ESL classroom will undoubtedly create engaging and effective lessons. Do try it out!


If you’re an ESL educator seeking to enhance your phonics teaching skills, consider enrolling in our Phonics teaching certificate course. This online, self-paced course offers a comprehensive curriculum that includes a focus on phonics instruction, providing you with the knowledge and strategies to further develop your expertise.

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