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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!

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Mary

says:

Awesome. Perfect for my boys that are 18 months apart.

Awesome game! Thank you!!

Tina Ferguson

says:

Thank you! I have been looking for a way to work with my grandson. He could use some speach building. I think this game would help him greatly. Thank you again. Tina Ferguson

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Tina! I hope you and your grandson have a lot of fun with this game.

Mary

says:

This would be an excellent game to play with my kids, a fun time together now that two are reading!

Emily

says:

Very interesting!

Cindy Payne

says:

This would be awesome as a station in class.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Ooo, what a great idea, Cindy! I bet this dominoes game would be a popular station with the students. 😊

Alicia G

says:

These look amazing – thank you!

Colleen

says:

Thank you! This looks like a fun resource! I am currently enjoying using AAR with my daughter after successfully using the program with my two older sons.
Also, “hod” is a “real” word. It’s a tool used for carrying bricks!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Colleen,
Great catch about hod! We did miss that, but I don’t think any of us have ever laid bricks before! 😉

Although, that could be a great teaching moment about jargon, vocabulary that is specialized for specific jobs, hobbies, and so on.

Thanks for letting us know!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Colleen,
We went ahead and changed “hod” to “jod”. We even searched and made sure jod isn’t a word. 😉 Thanks for letting us know our mistake!

Colleen

says:

Looks good!
I only know that word from an old Irish tune, “Tim Finnegan’s Wake”. The lyrics go, “and to rise in the world he carried a hod.”
This song became the basis for James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake.
Another interesting discussion to be had on songs, culture, literature and learning!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Now I’m off to find a recording of “Tim Finnegan’s Wake” somewhere online… 😊

Kristina

says:

Thank you for all the wonderful games and ideas. Love your blog!

Dina Fennerty

says:

This is such a great tool!

Kathie Johnson

says:

I am interesting in this program with a first-grade student who is dyslexic and placed in a Spanish immersion classroom. I’d like to get her out of there and into an English-speaking class, then start her at the very beginning of your All About Reading program. I have Master’s level certification and 17 years’ experience teaching Exceptional Children (SLD) and an advanced degree in School Psychology (>20 years). What would be a fair rate per hour to tutor this student 4 days a week if I furnish all materials?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Kathie,
Tutoring rates vary wildly throughout the US. The overall cost-of-living and the going rate for tutors in your area would be the best indicator of what you should charge. Your level of experience should put you on the higher end of the range of tutors in your area.

I’m sorry I’m not much help.

Angela

says:

Love this!

Nikki

says:

What a great idea!

Tami

says:

Thank you for all the great ideas to make reading and spelling more fun!

Karla

says:

I think my kids would love something lovethis!

Deanna

says:

This looks like a great way for us to build some fun into our day. Thank you.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Deanna! Adding some fun into each day makes school more enjoyable over all.

Erica McIntosh

says:

Great game ideas!

Erica

says:

Such great game ideas!

Apri

says:

My children just learned how to play “regular” dominoes last month. They’d really enjoy this game to add to our daily learning routine.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Apri,
Adding in these Phonics Dominoes after learning regular dominoes would be a lot of fun!

Hayley

says:

This looks like a fun game!

Roslyn Harris

says:

This looks like fun! I’m not sure it would get done around here but the kids would like it;)

Bobbie

says:

Oh this is great and my little one would enjoy this idea! Thanks for sharing!

Katie Bray

says:

This game looks great. I’ll be playing it this afternoon with one of the students I tutor.

Rozmin Teja

says:

Thanks a lot dear for sharing your best ideas

Tabitha P.

says:

Need idea for the littles.

Megan

says:

Thanks for the link to Amazon for the dominos and for all the different versions of the product! So fun for all different levels and ages!

anon

says:

Sounds great where can i get suitable sets of dominoes cheap?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Here is the link to purchase the Short Vowel Dominoes set.

Annabel L

says:

This would be great for a tier 1 activity

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I agree, Annabel! This game would be really great to play in small groups to practice blending.

Amber Wood

says:

This game looks fun. We always get great ideas from All About Spelling! We are on level 2 and learning more everyday. I love how the spelling compliments the reading program also used. It all works together

Merry

says: Customer Service

Thanks, Amber–so glad we can help and that you can learn with your kids too!

Kay

says:

You guys are the best! Thank you for sharing.

Belle

says:

Sounds like fun!

Sarah

says:

Love this!

hikma

says:

I think we will have fun using these. Thanks

NaTosha Hansome

says:

What a great idea! My son would love this.

Amanda S

says:

This looks like a fun game

Jill

says:

Love all the ideas to make learning more interactive and fun!

Misti

says:

I went straight to Amazon for this resource! What fun!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I hope you and your child enjoy the game, Misti!

Jessica Broadbent

says:

This program has been fantastic for my daughter

April Tibbs

says:

This is a really really great for my younger kids!

Brianne McWhorter

says:

We love games like this! Sounds like this would be a great skill building game for my girls. Thanks for sharing your passion!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Brianne! Thank you! 😊

Tara Price

says:

We have started using the all about reading course, and love it. The games that go along with all about reading are fabulous! Our child loves the course and the games makes learning so much fun!

Merry

says: Customer Service

That’s wonderful, Tara! I’m so glad you and your child are loving All About Reading!

S Jones

says:

Sounds fun & a great way to reinforce phonics skills!

Jennifer

says:

There are so many things I love about the All About Learning programs, but one thing I really appreciate are the posts with games and how to incorporate them into my children’s daily learning. It’s so relieving to trust a program and know that the resources I find here for reading and spelling will hit the mark!

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

Thanks for your kind words, Jennifer! :) Games are such an effective way to reinforce reading and spelling skills!

Ashlee Flechas

says:

Dominoes are a hit with kids!

helen Schwartz

says:

With two grades to teach this would be an extremely helpful resource

What a clever game! Fun and educational! I’d love the chance to win AAS level 2.

Donald Knight

says:

Wow! Sounds fascinating!

Karina

says:

Wow! I am sooooooo excited to get this game for my kids!

Britani

says:

Love All About Spelling! So helpful and thorough!

Katrina Angele

says:

My son is in first grade. This would be a oerfect game for us to play together!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Katrina,
Yes! This game is perfect for your son’s age and learning is always more fun when it’s social. 😊

Becky

says:

This looks fun! Bummed I didn’t know about them earlier!

Kela

says:

Looks like a lot of fun!

Lanette Tyler

says:

Planning to download this at the computer later. Thanks!

Alyse

says:

How fun! This looks like an engaging way to teach these skills.

Tamara

says:

This reminds me of a flip book I had as a kid allowing me to turn just parts of the page to create new words. Great concept and a fun way to learn!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I know exactly what you are talking about, Tamara! We call them Word Flippers and you can download some in this blog post. They are a fun way to work on blending!

Laura

says:

Adding this to my kiddo’s birthday list!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I think games are always great birthday gifts, Laura! 😊

Betty Bair

says:

Where can I get the tiles to play this game? Somehow I missed something!!

Marge

says:

Awesome dominos!
Where can I order them?

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

Hi Marge! They are pretty awesome! :) Amazon has them in stock–check out the links in the first paragraph of the post. Enjoy!

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

Hi Betty! The Phonics Dominoes game is readily available on Amazon and other online retailers. Amazon links are provided in the first paragraph of the post. Have fun with it! :)

Betty Bair

says:

Thank you so much

Brianne

says:

What a great way to practice important skills! Thanks for sharing!

Abby

says:

This is such a great idea and my son would love to play this game. Thanks!

Aubrey

says:

What a fun idea!

Amanda H.

says:

My daughter loves regular dominos for math; this will be right up her alley!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Amanda,
If your child already likes dominos, these should be a hit!

Linda

says:

This certainly looks like a fun way to learn how to read.

brittany berezhnoy

says:

This looks like a fun interactive way to learn for those who are more hands on learners.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Brittany,
Yes, it is great for hands-on learners. And it’s also a great way to review blending skills in a low pressure, fun way for any type of learner.

Shyla Klee

says:

Thank you

Kristen

says:

Downloading now just what I needed to help my first grader

Lida Bringe

says:

This is fun!

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