Using Phonics Dominoes to Build Language Skills
Fun and Interactive Word Building!
Where has this game been all of my life?
Phonics Dominoes is a fantastic way to practice word-building and decoding skills. There are several versions available: Short Vowels, Long Vowels, Blends and Digraphs, Word-Building, and for more advanced students, Sentence-Building dominoes.
In this post, we’re reviewing the Short Vowels version.
These sturdy dominoes come in six bright colors and are the perfect size for small hands. Each tile contains a single consonant and a combination of two or three letters, allowing them to be combined in hundreds of ways. Instructions are provided for five different games. Several of the variations require at least two players, but you can easily adjust the rules so they work for a single student. The suggested age range is 6-9.
Let’s Play “Word Train”!
One way to play Short Vowel Dominoes is Word Train. Let’s play! Pick one player to be the dealer. The dealer starts the game by dealing five tiles to every player, including himself. Everyone then stands their tiles on edge so no one else can see them.
The dealer starts play by placing one tile in the center of the table.
Now it’s time to make a word train! Each player has a chance to make a word by placing one of his tiles before or after the tiles already on the table.
For example, the first player plays one of his tiles to build the word hat.
The next player adds her od/r tile and builds the word rug. Now it’s your turn and you play your ub/r tile to build the word rod.
Great job! See how the train gets longer with every turn?
Now it’s your turn again…but look! None of your tiles can be added to the word train!
You have to take another tile and add it to your tiles. Your turn is over, but don’t worry—you get to play again in the next round.
The first player to play all his tiles wins the game.
5 Ways to Build Language Skills with Short Vowels Phonics Dominoes
- Sound out words. Using the different word parts on the tiles will provide your kids with lots of practice blending sounds to create words.
- Build vocabulary. Kids can learn new words as they experiment with forming words with the tiles. You can also work with single tiles and encourage your kids to think of as many words as they can using the letters on that tile.
- Practice spelling skills. Kids will have fun finding “real” words to spell such as mop and hat, while avoiding “fake” words such as jod and rix.
- Build word families. Your child can experiment with word families, which are words that follow a similar pattern. Have your child keep adding new beginning consonants to form new words that rhyme.
- Play with similarly spelled words. Phonics Dominoes can be especially helpful for Word Guessers because they will have to focus closely on the small variations between similarly spelled words. They’ll learn how changing even one letter of a word changes the meaning.
Notes from Our Game Testers
- Some kids find it fun to make up a silly sentence with the word that was just created.
- Go ahead and create your own games using these tiles. The games in the instructions are a great jumping-off point, but you can tailor them any way you desire.
- As you read the instructions, you may notice that Phonics Dominoes uses a different definition for phonograms than we do in the All About Reading and All About Spelling programs. This difference won’t affect your student or the game play in any way, but you may be interested to know the distinction. Our working definition of phonogram is “a letter or combination of letters that represents a sound” (such as B or CK). The game uses the working definition of word families (such as -AN, -OG, and -UN).
Does your family have a favorite board game that is a fun and “sneaky” way to build language skills? Please share in the comments below!
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