I am convinced that the best time to teach phonics is during a guided reading lesson. It allows you to specifically target the kind of word-solving activities that students need while reading. It also helps students learn to write new words.
Making Words is one of the three activities we use in the Literacy Footprints Level A–F lessons. This powerful activity can be done in just a few minutes during guided reading. Making Words teaches children how to use sounds to monitor for visual information while reading. It also firms up left-to-right visual scanning across a word. Plus, children think it’s fun!
Each student will need their own letter tray and magnetic letters to make a series of words you dictate. First, tell students which letters to remove from their trays, then dictate a series of words that differ by one letter or letter combination. Each time you say a new word, students figure out which letter(s) to change to make the new word. The process they use to determine the mismatch between sound and letter is the same process they’ll use later to self-correct during reading. After students make each word, tell them to check it by saying the word slowly as they run their finger under the word. At first, you’ll have to tell them which letter(s) to change, but soon they’ll be able to make alterations on their own.
I have been so pleased with how this activity helps my group solve words in reading. It’s also dramatically improved their ability to hear sounds in words while writing. Here is a video of my group in action!