Phonics Games and Activities with Three Word Cards

Phonics Games and Activities

This post is going to give you phonics games and activities with just two simple resources. If your child is beginning their phonics journey then working with simple three word CVC cards and letters can be lots of fun.

You will not believe the amount of ways that you can use these simple resources and each way gradually increases the challenge.

V = Vowel, C = Consonant. So, a VC word would be is or at, A CVC word would be cat or big.

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You could make your own three word CVC cards and letters or purchase ready made. These Bright Sparks cards were kindly gifted to us by GMC Publications. I love the simplicity of these cards and the limited use of colour. You get 52 cards with an excellent range of common words for children. It helps children focus on the image better and not get distracted.

If you have a child with dyslexia then using an overlay (a coloured piece of acetate) that is most suitable in colour for them over the words may be helpful.

Our pebbles are by yellow door and can be found here. These are the alphabet set, but you can get another phonics set for when your child goes further with their phonics.

Phonics Games and Activity Ideas

Are you ready for lots of ways to use these two simple resources?


Firstly, they can be used as straight forward flash cards. Show the picture and the child gives the word. Some pictures can give rise to different words. It can be a good time to explore vocabulary. For example mouse and rat look very similar.

Eye Spy

Start this game off with a few cards, you can always add more. You can either use the letter name or the sound of the letter. Have a few cards with the words face upwards. Eye spy with my little eye the letter (a) or the sound (/a/). Children then have to find all the words that contain that letter/ sound.

Once you have collected a few cards you can examine them more. Learning to read is often about spotting patterns and rules. Does the sound come at the start of words? in the middle? at the end?

Something Beginning With…

Start off with two cards with pictures face up and different initial sounds (the first letter is different). We then say in a sing song sort of voice – Something Beginning With, Something Beginning With… (then say the initial sound) eg. mmm.

The child can then pick up the right card or swat it with a wooden spoon or fly swatter (kids love doing this). Once they start to become familiar with the letters (graphemes) add more cards then they can play the game with the words face up instead.

Grapheme – How you write the sound (phoneme) using a letter or number of letters. For example – the five letter word night consists of three sounds (phonemes): /n/ /ie/ /t/ and is written using three graphemes: ‘n’ – ‘igh’ – ‘t’.

Letter Match

Firstly, when getting children to match letters you could begin by just asking them to match the initial sound. As this becomes easier give them the exact letters that they need to rearrange into the correct order. Talk about each of the different sounds (phonemes) as they match them up.

Phoneme – A sound – not a letter. There are approximately 44 sounds in the English language (I say approximately as accents can make this differ). When you see something written as a sound it will have a forward slash at the beginning and end of the sound. For example /a/.

To make it more challenging – throw in a wild card. Another letter that they are familiar with that they now have to choose what not to use. You can continue to add several other letters to increase the challenge including duplicates of some letters.

Spell and Check

This one is a perfect activity for self correction. As with Letter Match above give the child the correct letters, but this time with the picture face up.

Be sure to confirm the word with the child. For example, make sure they know it is a rat and not a mouse. It can be helpful to have a frame such as the one below holding the word ‘bee’ to help children sequence their letters. You can easily make one by drawing a grid on paper too.

Children can then check by themselves whether they have got the order right by turning over the card and making any changes.

As with the previous Letter Match game you can increase the challenge by adding in other letters for them to make a selection from.

Whisper Tube

You don’t need to make a whisper tube, but it certainly makes it more fun. We made one using a polly roll (OK kitchen roll, apparently it’s a Brummy thing calling it polly roll that the other half laughs about). You then decorate your roll however you like.

With your whisper tube place it against your child’s ear and whisper the sounds from one one of the cards eg. z-i-p. Can they work out the word? If not, put the sounds closer together eg. zi-p. They can then check the card image if they need a further clue.

I really hope this has given you some fun ideas with these two simple resources. If you’d like more information about phonics then start at the beginning of the series here. This will help you understand the sequence in phonics and understand some of the key vocabulary.

More Phonics Games and Activities

There are six activities and four game ideas in the Bright Sparks Three Letter Words pack including a rhyming words activity and an idea for bingo.

If you’re looking for help with tricky words, also known as common exception words then check out the blog post here.

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