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Phonics Teaching Activities: Visual and Velcro Materials

Rose is a full-time freelance writer who frequently writes about education, special education, DIY projects, food, Milwaukee, and more.


Tip: I created all of the visuals and word squares that I feature in this article using Mayer-Johnson's Boardmaker. I buy my cardstock in bulk from Office Depot and my Velcro dots in bulk from

How Can a Teacher Teach Phonics to Young Children

During the four years that I taught special education, I worked with a lot of kindergarten and first grade students as well as students who are at this academic level for their phonics skills. Many of my students needed lots of repetition with new skills. I usually used some combination of the following for my phonics lessons: modified general education material, supplemental material, and my own materials with visuals and/or Velcro. The visuals are perfect for low or non-readers. Many students with autism prefer Velcro materials.

It may look like the materials below are not a lot of work. However, keep in mind that you are only seeing a very small fraction of my visual and Velcro phonics work. I've created many of these materials for all of the short and long vowels and their accompanying word families as well as over a dozen blends and digraphs. It does take a lot of time to create these materials, but once you've made them, you can use them over and over again. Don't worry about making lots of materials at one time. Make what you need when you need it. You'll be amazed at how many materials you have even after one year of teaching.

All of these materials are appropriate for students who have been introduced to a new short or long vowel sound and the corresponding word families and now need practice with their new skills. Typically I include 12 words for each vowel, blend, or digraph. You can use more or less words as you think it is appropriate for your students.


Matching Words With Pictures: Version 1

I lay out 6 words or visuals at a time and have the students match the corresponding cards to them. Students must say the words once they've made the correct matches. For students who are more proficient with the words, they can use the cards to play concentration. They can also use the word cards only to quiz each other.


Matching Words With Pictures: Version 2

I prefer to use the cut up cards above because you can change the order/grouping every time. Some of my students with autism prefer this version because of the familiarity that comes with the consistent order. I used Velcro dots for this version. You can use Velcro dots for the version above, too.


Velcro Spelling

For students who still need reinforcement with their letter sound skills, this is a great material to include in your set. I have always used Velcro for this material. For students who have strong letter sound skills and catch onto new word families quickly, this is most likely not a necessary component.


Blends and Digraphs Sort

I usually just use the blends and digraphs books (see below), but sometimes I make these word sorts for tricky letter combinations. I have always used Velcro for this material. If you find that there are a number of blends and/or digraphs that your students struggle with, you can cut the different letter combinations apart and mix up different groups of them for further practice.


Blending Lesson - Hooked on Phonic Learn to Read

I highly recommend Teacher Created Resources for phonics worksheets.

Additional Phonics Teaching Resources

  • Creating phonics books: Typically I make books for my low and non-readers for the vowels, blends, and digraphs. I print the same Boardmaker pictures and type a word list in Microsoft Word. I print the materials and cut pages (I cut a letter sized piece of paper into 4 pages). Then I let the students finish assembling everything. They can read these books to me, their paras, or their peers during the phonics units.
  • Starfall: You can also visit for great phonics materials. I have used many of their materials to supplement my own modified materials and modified general education materials. I've made a number of visual modifications for some of the Starfall phonics skills readers, including my own accompanying comprehension questions.
  • Additional websites: I also used FREE Phonics & Reading Worksheets on a regular basis when I was teaching. For younger readers who need work with their letter sound skills, I use Learning Letter Sounds. There are links on the side of the site for different letters and other specific skill work.
  • Teacher Created Resources: I'm a huge fan of the Teacher Created Resources books. I used quite a few of them while I was teaching, including phonics and other word skills (i.e. sight words) books.
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Teaching Phonics Sounds

Are you looking for more elementary teaching resources? Check this out!


Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on May 09, 2013:

That sounds great, Jamie! I'm so glad that this article was helpful for you. Best of luck. :)

Jamie Brock from Texas on May 09, 2013:

Great hub, Rose! Thank you for sharing this.. I am going to do the matching words with pictures one... I'll do one for both common words and also one for emotions with little faces that match so he can tell us how he feels if he wants, I think that would be really helpful for him too! I just finished a picture schedule for him as well. Thank you again :)

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on January 24, 2013:

So glad that you enjoyed this!

elijagod from Abuja - Nigeria on January 24, 2013:

Thanks for sharing

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on January 23, 2013:

Thanks, Cyndi! I agree. I created materials like these Velcro phonics materials for special education students, but so many classrooms can benefit from them.

Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on January 23, 2013:

Nice job on this! I really think all students benefit whenever we make adaptations for any student in the classroom. Comprehensive hub, too!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 29, 2011:

Thanks again! :)

Robin Edmondson from San Francisco on April 29, 2011:

Thanks! I absolutely think they would work for general ed students as well. Really great information. ;)

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 29, 2011:

You're welcome! These materials are definitely appropriate for general education students, too. Good luck with making some of your own materials. If you have any questions while you're working on anything, let me know. :)

Robin Edmondson from San Francisco on April 29, 2011:

This is wonderful information for teachers and parents. I taught third grade so I didn't use these materials, but I know my kids always loved if they could use velcro or any other tactile objects when learning. We have an incoming kinder - I'll try to make some of these for her for the summer. Thanks!

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