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Using Phonics Dominoes to Build Language Skills

phonics dominoes tiles

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.

players tiles in phonics dominoes

The dealer starts play by placing one tile in the center of the table.

ug / h phonics domino tile

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.

spelling the word hat with phonics dominoes

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.

spelling words rug and rod with phonics dominoes

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!

playing word train with phonics dominoes

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

  1. Sound out words. Using the different word parts on the tiles will provide your kids with lots of practice blending sounds to create words.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

  5. spelling word families with phonics dominoes
  6. 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.
download phonics dominoes game sheet

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!

All About Learning Press, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. All proceeds from our partnership with Amazon.com will be donated to local libraries.

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Holly McKinney

says:

Love this!!!

Ashley

says:

We just went to a museum with a Dyslexia exhibit and they had these dominos! It was so fun!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Interesting, Ashley! Where was this Dyslexia exhibit? I know my family would love to see it as five of the seven of us are dyslexic.

Craig

says:

This is a great idea!

Sherry

says:

Thank you for this game!

Rachel wright

says:

I cant wait to use this

Jennifer

says:

Thank you so much for sharing this resource with us!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Jennifer!

Rebekah

says:

My daughter loves the fun games included with all about learning materials. So fun!

Margarita Diaz

says:

I honestly had no idea these existed😱Going to check them out!!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Glad to have helped inform you these exist, Margarita! I hope you enjoy them.

Amy

says:

We love to play Boggle.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Boggle is great, Amy! We have a blog post about it, Using Boggle to Build Language Skills.

Christina

says:

Such a great idea!

Barbara

says:

I enjoyed this article. We love using things like word rods, so phonics dominos is definitely something I could see adding to our toolbox!

Bryanna McManus

says:

GREAT IDEAS!

Jessica

says:

What great idea!

Ruth

says:

This is brilliant!

Colleen

says:

What a fun way to learn spelling!

Brit

says:

Great game for practicing those spelling skills!

Jennifer

says:

Good Idea!

Tori Hershey

says:

The games is what makes this so fun for kids

Elizabeth John

says:

This is such a fantastic idea! My young son would love playing this and not even realize he is “doing school”. We love your programs and he is doing so well in them. Thank you!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m glad to hear that your son is doing so well, Elizabeth!

Beth C.

says:

What a fantastic resource! Thank you for sharing this.

Jessica

says:

This looks like a fun game that is also quite profitable for learning. Thanks for the idea!

Amanda

says:

This looks like so much fun. My daughter loves dominos!

Laura

says:

Absolutely love this program

Lindsay Ernst

says:

This is great! Definitely on our list!!

Cori

says:

My children love playing games for school. This is a great idea for my kindergartener!

Karen

says:

What a fun way to learn about short vowel phonics!

Natalie J Vandenberghe

says:

This would be great for my granddaughter! She’s in kindergarten (being taught at home by her mother for now) I have so much fun playing Scrabble with her older brothers and will be happy when she can play with us, too.

Lori

says:

What a great idea!!!

Melanie

says:

Great ideas!

Kathy Moya

says:

I love this! Looks like so much fun 🙂

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