Word Detective & Phonics Printables sh/ee/oa/ai

I just thought that I would share with you the word detective sheet that I created for my class today. It was a big hit so I am sure that you might know someone who would love it too! I am always on the hunt for or creating phonics printables. I am sure that many of you are exactly the same so I am only too glad to share.

I always do my best to trial my phonics printables them at school before posting them. Generally, I create printables for my own classroom use and then share them with you guys afterwards 🙂

This Sound Detective Sheet is a great way to integrate maths and literacy. My class certainly enjoyed the challenge! Using different colours for each digraph also simplified the process and ensured that almost all children had a completely correct graph 🙂

I plan on using this sheet tomorrow as the revision part of my lesson. We have been practicing “encoding” or sounding out words on our whiteboard so this activity should be a nice extension of this. My class just love it when I use the big timer on our Interactive Whiteboard! I am sure that this printable will be a big hit. Hopefully they won’t spend their time glued to the timer rather than writing their words!!!

The final activity in this pack is a crossword which, I plan to use on Friday. I have checked it twice so I am pretty sure that is is correct 😉

I hope that you find these worksheets useful. Please click here to download all three sheets

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

p.s The monkey clipart is by DJInkers.com and the rest are from MS Word

Digraph assessment sheet

Spurred on by the positive comments I received about my Sound Identification sheet I decided to create a  Digraph Assessment printable. As I am currently loving the assessment sheets that I created for my class reader, Look at This, my new sheet is a similar format.

I am sure that many of you regularly conduct digraph assessments and might like a new format to use. I will be stapling this Digraph Assessment sheet into my pupil’s notebooks to facilitate home practice. This will also allow serve as a running record of each child’s phonetic knowledge during the year.

I hope that this sheet looks friendly and will set my pupils at ease. I have also tried to ensure that the size and type of font was favorable to beginner readers.

Please click here to download a copy.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

ps: Clipart by DJInkers Font: Kidsprint, source unknown

Sound Identification Sheet

I have been busy testing my new class to see how many letter sounds they remember from Junior Infants. It ‘s a mammoth task but very worth while. I created these cute and incredibly useful sheets for easy testing. Please click here to download both. I laminated them and punched them so they can be kept in my ring binder for ease of use.

Incidentally, the sound sequence matches the letter sound introduction pattern used by Jolly Phonics.

I thought that it was about time that I created a recording sheet to directly correspond with it. I have added some explanations to the image below to help you use the sheet to it’s full potential. These obviously will not appear on your copy!

So here we go: click here to download

I prefer to tick only the unknown when testing children. It  makes it so much easier to read scores at a glance. It also allows you to concentrate more acutely on the child and to document the difficulties that  he/she has or the incorrect responses made. It is also easier on the hand when you have lots and lots of children to test ;).

I will be creating similar test sheets for digraphs over the coming weeks. I think that these sheets are equally useful for parents and teachers. We both have to keep track of how well children are doing and to figure out what sounds to practice that day. By the way, only revise/teach 3 sounds at a time regardless of how many your child did not know. If possible separate out the teaching of those that they reversed eg b and d.

How do you keep track of scores? Have you any clever tips that you could share with us?

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

p.s The graphics are by DJInkers and the fonts by kevinandamanda.com

Blending cvc’s

Exploding the Code!

The English language is a code that your child must develop skills to crack. The tool for cracking this code is, of course, Phonics. I like to call this “exploding the code”! Most children will be following Synthetic Phonics Programmes such as Jolly Phonics. These programmes often send home sheets for your child to practice blending cvc’s.

Children can never have too much practice at “blending” or stretching out sounds to “explode the code”. Phonics programmes begin with CVC’s (consonant vowel consonant) words eg cat, man, bed. It is, however, important that children learn to blend sounds correctly as this allows them to decode words more efficienlty. With practice your child will blend sounds almost instantly in his/her head. To read my article on how to blend sounds please click here.

I  find “Powerpoint” very useful when teaching my class to blend cvc’s. It allows me to create large flashcards of our cvc’s. I am also in control of the pace at which flashcards appear ie. I can click to proceed or time them to appear automatically. This allows for plenty of instruction time.

Here is a slide that I prepared during the week to cover the “an” & “ed” families. This corresponds with the spelling programme I use, Prim Ed’s “My Spelling Workbook”. It is useful regardless of what spelling programme you follow :).If you would like to download this presentation, please click here.

You need to download and save the document to your computer.

Open the document, click on the “view” tab and then” full screen”.

It will now look like a conventional Powerpoint Presentation. I couldn’t figure out how to keep the slide animation so you will have to click your mouse to move from slide to slide. Sorry! If anyone knows how to do this please, please email me.

Have fun,

Cathriona 🙂

Fun learning with Elkonin Boxes

Here is the science of why beginner readers need to use Elkonin boxes!

Phonics vs Phonological Awareness

Phonics: is the awareness of the relationship between oral sounds and the written letter symbols.

Phonological awareness: is an awareness of sound in the spoken word.

It is really, really important that children have a good understanding of phonological awareness before we start to instruct them in phonics. If your child is starting school this September why not print out my next activity and give them a great start!

Elkonin boxes are used to:

  • break words into sounds.
  • teach children to count the number of phonemes (sounds) in words rather than the number of letters.
  • helps children to see the connection between letters (graphemes) and sounds (phonemes)

Generally the boxes are so plain and boring that I find it hard to motivate myself to use them, let alone my class.

I decided to shake them up and have create some cute ones for you to use. I can’t wait to try them out with my class.  Here are just two examples of my creations. I am so excited by them! Oops, did I say that already!

                                                                             and this                                                                                  What  do you think?!   I bet that you want to know how to play now, right? Click here to download 🙂 

How to play ” Say it-Move it”:            

 Give your child 3 counters  ( novelty erasers, lego, bottle tops…).

Slowly say a small 3 letter word eg. c/a/t. Ask your child to put one counter into each box for each sound ( phoneme) that he/she hears.  Each box in an Elkonin box card represents one phoneme, or sound. Cat has 3 sounds so your child should have 3 counters on his/her board.    

 Ask your child to  say the word again, sliding his/her finger below the boxes from left to right: cat.


  • Encourage  your child to place the counters going from left to right. This will help to prepare for reading at a later date.
  • Remember that it is the number of sounds that can hear heard and not the number of letters in a word. Let’s look at the word ” fish”. Fish has  4 letters but 3 phonemes f/i/sh.

Other ways to play:

Use Elkonin Boxes to locate a specific sound in a word eg. “sh” in shop and then the “sh” in dish. Ask your child to put a counter on their board to show where the sound is in the word. For shop the counter goes in the first box and it would go in the last box for dish. This will help your child to learn about initial, final and medial sounds ( beginning, middle and end sounds.)

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂


Around the World with Tricky Words

My school follows the Jolly Phonics Programme and as part of that I must teach some “tricky words”.  Tricky words are those that cannot be easily sounded out, eg should, little, and must be instantly recognized instead. I don’t have that many commercially bought games to go with the programme as they are beyond my budget. For those of you in the same situation you might like a copy of my Tricky Words Around the World Game! It covers Tricky Words 31-60. Even if your school or child is not covering the Jolly Phonics Programme learning to read these words would certainly speed up fluency 🙂

To play, each child is given one card, sometimes more! The child with the “go” sign starts the game by saying “I have go. Who has only?”. The child with the word “only”will respond with “I have only.Who has old?”. The games continues in a loop until the last child calls “stop”. My class love it and when they are familiar with the words I set a stop watch and they race to beat the clock. It’s hilarious!

 Click here to download!

Cut out the flashcards going across the page so that you have a white and a blue section still attached!   

I hope that you all have as much fun and learning with this game as we do.

Have fun!

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Monster Digraph Fun!

I made this cute sheet to use during my 5 a-day reading lesson. You can read more about this on my Fruity Labels for Daily Readers post. It encourages children to hunt for and recognise digraphs in books that they are reading and is a good compliment to my Dainty Digraph Quilt activity. I ask my class to read their book twice. The first time is for the enjoyment of the story and the second time is to find as many Monster digraph words as they can and to write these words into the correct column. I made a double sided sheet for my class which meant that they were looking for lots of different digraphs. You could hand out just one sheet and have them complete that. Then you could save the other sheet for another day ;). Click here to download both sheets.

Clipart by DJInkers

This sheet would be useful at home or in school . The digraphs used as from the Jolly Phonics programme , but would compliment any phonics instruction. It would be a great “busy bee” activity sheet for earlier finishers too!

I have already used this sheet with my class and it got a thumbs up for cuteness! I hope that you have the same happy response 🙂

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Dainty Digraph Quilt!

I was inspired to make this cute quilt by http://www.fantasticfirstgrade.com.  Mrs. Oakes has a cute quilt for sight words. I wanted to make one to compliment our Jolly Phonics programme. My kids are OBSESSED with finding digraphs in every word they meet either on a worksheet or as I write stuff on the white board. I sometime think that they have a secret competition to be the first to spot them outside of English class! So if you can’t beat them, join them…

I have created two different quilts. The shorter one covers the basic Jolly Phonics Digraphs and the longer one includes some advance digraphs such as the magic e.

Click here to download the advanced sheet which includes “magic e”.

Click here to download the easy sheet

These sheet is perfect for both home and school use!

They work great with any reader your child brings home to read or with a book that you have chosen to read together. If you want to know more about choosing a book for your child to read this might be useful https://missmernagh.com/2011/02/16/how-do-i-pick-a-book-that-my-child-can-read/

I will be using my as part of our ” 5 a day programme”. Click on the link to find out more about this https://missmernagh.com/2011/02/28/fruity-labels-for-daily-class-readers/

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Magic e practice sheets

I create these sheets for my students to practice blending words that have “magic e” in them. There are 3 different sheets for blending the “long a ” sound. I send home one a week for parents to practice blending with their child.

Note: this is not a spelling list. It is just for practicing how to “sound out” and “blend” words containing the Magic E.

Click here to download

Note : open your Gmail or Google Docs account before downloading!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

What is blending?! Stretchy Snake will explain all.

If your child is learning phonics it is really important that you understand the concept of “blending”. Blending is the process of saying the individual sounds in a word and then running them together to make the word such as m-m-a-a-n-n (man).Sounds must be said quickly, accurately and fluidly to hear the word. This smooth and accurate blending is essential for reading fluency and correct phonological processing (hearing the blended word correctly)

Note: Blending is the opposite to spelling where you chop up the word into individual sounds and say each sound separately such as m/…a/…n.

Blending is something that needs to be practiced on a daily basis once your child has begun to learn phonics. It can often take a child quite a while to hear the sounds in words, so do not worry.

To encourage children to stretch out the sounds in words I give them an elastic band and introduce them to Stretchy Snake ( we pretend that they elastic band in our snake!)

Click on the image below to download

(have your Gmail or Google Docs account open before downloading)

The elastic band is a really helpful way of showing children how to stretch out a word. Take a deep breath. Turn your two hands into the elastic band and stretch it out opposite directions. As you stretch out your elastic band, slowly say each sound in the word without stopping, so they run into each other in a long string eg sssuuunnn. Then say the word eg. sun. The stretchy snake band helps your child to remember the long,  seamless string that they need to make when blending.

Sometimes, singing the sounds can be easier for young children to do. Just pick and note and sing all the sounds without stopping.

Make sure that your child is pronouncing his/her sounds correctly. Any mispronunciations or choppy sounding out should be corrected as early in the learning process as possible.

When your child is comfortable with blending you can use and ” imaginary elastic band”. Make the same pulling action, but without the elastic band 😉

It is important to begin with oral blending first. Once your child can hear the sounds in words and  can easily blend them together to make words, then he/she is ready to practice blending written words.

Once your child begins to read, remind him/her to try using “stretchy snake” for unfamiliar words. Children need to be reminded of word attack strategies until they become automatic to them.  Explain that Stretchy Snake doesn’t always work, but is worth a try.

I shall cover other word attack strategies in the coming weeks.

Miss Mernagh 🙂

I know my sounds inside out and upside down!

How about this for a cute checklist for alphabet recognition?! I think that this would be a fun sheet to pull out for homework or in a classroom. What do you think?

Point to sound and have your child name it or call out a sound for your child to point to.

Click on the first picture to download both sheets

(don’t forget to have your Google Docs or Gmail account open first!)


Clipart by DJInkers

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Digraph Checklist

I thought that you might like a copy of my Digraph Checklist. I use this with my class to quickly identify known and unknown sounds.

You can use it two ways depending on how well your child know their sounds:

  1. Point to a sound for your child to name
  2. Say a sound and have your child point to it

I hope that this makes homework or testing a little quicker, easier and cuter!




Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Clipart by DJInkers


Alphabet Soup Fun

Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?!

sesamestreet.org has some fantastic free games and videos for toddlers to 6 yrs.

I really like Cookie Monster’s Alphabet Soup game for beginner readers.

Click on the image below to play

Generally, beginner readers learn to hear sounds in words in a set or order:

  1. Initial (first)
  2. Final (last)
  3. Medial (middle)

Teaching a child to hear medial sounds can be tricky and requires a lot of practice. Alphabet  Soup is just perfect for this! Cookie Monster will walk your child through using medial sounds to make words. Your child picks the sound and Cookie Monster blends it to create a word. Simple!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Free Phonics Fun for Little Kids

Starfall.com is just a brilliant way for beginner readers to learn their sounds. I just love how easy it is to use. You just click on whatever sparkles. Cute! It is always really, really popular with Pre-schoolers and children who have just started school. It would also be useful for a slightly older child as a way to revise or to get some extra practice.

Click on the screenshot below to visit the site 🙂

Your child will learn:

  • to recognise the capital and lowercase form of each letter
  • it’s phonetic sound
  • to recognise what begins with that sound

Each time you click on the letter or the navigate button you will hear phonetic sound of that letter. This encourages quick and easy learning.

The illustrations are bright and cheerful to look at. There are games built in to the end of most of the lessons. It is also a great way to check that you are pronouncing your sounds correctly.  Check out my previous blog on the Top 7 problems when teaching phonics to learn a little more about this.

The only negative about this site is that pronunciations are American and can therefore be slightly different to Irish pronunciations. This is only the case for a small few letters, though, and it certainly hasn’t stopped me from using it.

Starfall also offers free ABC Printouts for each letter of the alphabet. They are of a really high quality and are great for writing practice too.

It is worth reading the bottom of each printout for more game and activity suggestions

Have fun 🙂