Learning to Read: The Magic of Phonics and Decodable Text!

Kindergarten is an amazing year in a child’s education. It is the year when young children develop important social and academic skills. I continue to be grateful that I am given the freedom to teach the curriculum in the ways that best suit my students’ needs. These needs change each year, so naturally, my program changes to address my current students.

What doesn’t change each year is the excitement both parents and children have about learning to read or strengthening decoding skills. For over 20 years I have been collecting decodable books that span early reading levels to more challenging ones. Once students begin blending sounds, they immediately bring home a nightly reading activity that is at their reading level. I continuously look for books that are truly decodable, meaning these books have words that are phonetically regular. 98% of words in the English language are phonetically regular, and presenting students with books that are phonetically regular gives them the opportunity to practice the skills of blending sounds, building fluency, and strengthening reading comprehension. (Phonetically irregular words include was, the, said, they.)

I have divided my decodable books into four different levels: pink, red, yellow, and green.

Books in Level Pink have few words on a page. Most words are decodable CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words. If there is a word that is not decodable, the word is typically repeated throughout the book and there are very few phonetically irregular words included in books of this level.

Level Red books begin to have more words on a page. They continue to be mainly decodable CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words with a few phonetically irregular words.

Level Yellow books introduce beginning and ending digraphs and blends as well as double consonants and words that are plural. Books may have two or more sentences on a page with a few more phonetically irregular words.

Level Green books have words with long vowels, including CVCe (like bake or tale) and CVVC (like main or feet).

I have found that once a student is comfortable reading Level Green books they are typically ready to transition to leveled readers.

So if you are looking for books to have in your home library that your child can really read, here are some links to some of my favorites! (Clicking on the underlined words will take you to my Amazon Associates link.)

Junior Reading Decodable Books

Starfall Reading

Benchmark Readers Decodable Books

Orton Gillingham Decodable Reader

Charge into Reading




A Must Have Reading Game!

Have you seen Blah Blah Blah, the Phonics Card Game?

I am always on the hunt for fun and educational games to play at school, either in homeroom class, with my kindergarten students, or with the students I see as part of my role as the EK-1 Learning Specialist. I felt like I hit the jackpot when I found this gem! It is from the website Mrs. Wordsmith. I was intrigued when I read the description:

“The hilariously fun phonics card game

Finally, a way to make phonics fun! Blah Blah Blah is a hilariously fun card game, perfect for kids who have been introduced to the letters and sounds that make up words but who need some practice in order to master them. Decode words using phonics with three decks of increasing difficulty, race to get rid of cards by matching sounds and letters, and play wild cards to trip up your opponents!”

I quickly placed my order and excitedly waited for the game’s arrival. Who doesn’t love a good game, much less a good card game? (My children and I have rediscovered playing cards these past six months!) But a game that focuses on identifying the sounds of letters in words? Even better! I have been a constant cheerleader for teaching students how to read using phonics. With 44 phonemes (sound variations) in the English language and more than 170 graphemes (different written representations for these sounds), learning how to read in English can be tricky, to say the least!

When the game arrived, my son and I quickly sat down at the kitchen table to play a round. The game has three levels. The first level focuses on CVC words…just short vowels. The second level focuses on CCVC or CVCC words…words with short vowels, blends, and digraphs. The third level focuses on long vowel spelling patterns with blends and digraphs! A teacher’s dream, that’s for sure! Blah, Blah, Blah helps children become aware of the phonetic regularities in English, and it gives them an interactive and FUN way to master these patterns.

Here is what the playing cards look like. (Photo from Mrs. Wordsmith website: https://www.mrswordsmith.com/products/blah-blah-blah-phonics-card-game)

Back to the game: My son and I began with the first level. I immediately was excited at the thought of bringing this into my classroom! Level 1 is just perfect for kindergarteners. After dealing seven cards to each player, you place one card face-up on the table. You have to match a letter from your card on it in order to place your card down. The reading practice comes into play when you place your card down. For example, if a card has the word dog on it, you have to make each letter sound/d/ /o/ /g/ and then blend the sounds together to read the word. These are the EXACT skills we are working on in kindergarten daily! We finished the first deck and then moved on to play with the second and third decks, each deck getting more challenging. Blah, Blah, Blah has quickly become a favorite game! (It is played like UNO…which is another of my family’s favorites!)

So if you are looking for an engaging and educational game to play with your child, I encourage you to take a look at Blah, Blah, Blah. You won’t be disappointed!

Amazing Mini Chalkboards

I love these mini chalkboards. They have so many uses in our kindergarten classroom. We first decorated the chalkboards during Friday Fun.


Students used smelly markers to decorate their chalkboards. Of course, when using smelly markers, this is bound to happen:


We only had a few polka dotted noses that day!

So fast forward to reading centers today….I pulled out the chalkboards and some chalk, and we practiced writing letters and hearing sounds. Students also played with manipulating sounds. For example, I asked the students to write the letters that say /m/ /a/ /t/. We then blended the sounds: /ma/ /t/…/mat/.


I asked students, “What if the word mat started with the /s/ sound? What would the new word be?” Sat! We changed beginning sounds, ending sounds, and even the middle sound.


To keep developing the listening skills, students participated in a rhyming activity at the independent activity today. Here’s a quick clip of that in action:

A super high five to the students for such hard work this morning! We completed all four reading centers on our first long day of kindergarten. Well done!