Jolly Phonics Tricky Word Games 1-20

I have been busy planning another game to help reinforce Jolly Phonics Tricky words 1-20. Variety is the spice of life after all!

I have yet to try out the games with my class but am dying to do so. I am saving them up for my Gingerbread Man unit. I though they were too cute to keep and decided to share them with you guys!

There are a number of different ways to use these cards:

  1. A word treasure hunt
  2. Concentration game
  3. Snap or Old Maid
  4. Flashcards or a Word Wall
  5. Word Headbanz

All of these games are explained in my pack. I have created two for you to choose from: black & white or full colour. You choose!

Please click here to download Black & White Tricky Words

Please click here to download Colour Tricky Words

I hope that you have lots of fun learning and revising these Jolly Phonics Tricky words. Let me know that you think. I just love to get comments!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

ps Clip art by DJ Inkers

Tricky Words 11-20

I have been busy doing my prep for the week to come. What a way to spend a Sunday, eh?! As my class have been playing with my first set of Tricky Words Bingo Boards for a little while now I thought that it was time to move on. My scheme for this term indicated a similar plan for the week ahead ;).

 Voila! Trick Word Bingo 1-20.

Click here to download Tricky Word Bingo 11-20

Print out, grab your Bingo dauber and off you go!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

PS. Clipart by DJInkers

Tricky Words Bingo Boards

The Jolly Phonics Programme has 72 “Tricky Words”. Tricky words, also known as High Frequency Words (HFW) , are small commonly occurring words in such as “was”, “is” and “their”.They are not phonetically regular so they cannot be sounded out. They are not nouns so a child cannot picture them either. In short,  children need to learn to read these word by sight. Even if you are not following the Jolly Phonics programme these words are critically important for reading fluency.

I have created these small Bingo Cards for Tricky Words 1-10 for  fun way to learn and reinforce learning 🙂

I designed them for use with a Bingo Dauber Pen (below) or a highlighter as a change from counters. Bingo daubers are easy to get and not that expensive either.  I am also fed up of laminating everything and pouches cost a fortune in the large numbers required for classroom use!

Counters can of course be used with my boards. Unifix cubes fit perfectly as would small cubes of Lego.

Tricky Words Bingo 1-10

The Caller Card is also included at the end of the PDF. I will create more of these boards over the coming weeks.

I would love to hear what you think of them so please leave me a comment. Would you like larger boards that can be laminated instead or even as well?

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

ps. Clip art by DJinkers

Monkey Match for Uppercase & Lowercase Letters

How about an online Concentration Game to help your child  match uppercase and lowercase letters? Children love this one!

Click on the coconuts to reveal a hidden uppercase or lowercase letter. When you make a correct match the coconuts disappear!

Drill and practice has never been so much fun! Monkey Match will have your child happily spending time developing both fluency and accuracy at upper and lowercase letter recognition. An added bonus, and the clue in in the title, is the fact that the game will engage your child and encourage the development of concentration and visual acuity (attention to detail necessary to see the difference between fat and cat, wish and dish, p and q, b and d).

Click here if you are just dying to play!

Why not take a visit to your local Euro Shop and search for some cute notepads or cut-out and make your own “non-digital” version? You could then make the game into a competition to see who can match the most!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

p.s Keep your comments coming. I am always delighted to hear how you are getting on

Learning the Alphabet (Part 2)

Practice your “abc’s” with ABCD Watermelon.

Join in and sing along as the letters appear on the screen. This will help to reinforce the name of the letter and how it is written (a grapheme) in a simple and clear way.

The song stops when something “silly” appears. Your child then needs to use his/her knowledge of the alphabet to click on the missing letter. It’s short and sweet :). This would be a great game to play together! Your child could tell you the missing letter and you could click on the grapheme until your child is able to play unaided.

Click here to play ABCD Watermelon 

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

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 🙂

Scrambled Spellings !

This is another quick and simple way to practice spellings. My class get great enjoyment from it.

Click here to download.

After you have finished practicing your spellings for the night, whip out my Scrambled Eggs Handout.  In the “Scrambled Egg” column your child writes his/her spellings back-to-front or completely mixed up. Then put the sheet away for tomorrow evening. Start your spelling practice by having your child figure out the scrambled up words from yesterday and writing them in the Un-scrambled section. Alternatively, you could scramble the words for your child to decode.

What do you think? Let me know if your child/class enjoyed this game. I just love getting comments!!!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Blank Battleships Template for you to use

I have had some requests for a blank version of my Battleships Game. This will allow you to completely customize the game to suit individual needs. Either write the words into the boxes or type them out and paste them in.

My class are just loving it! I hope that you love it too 🙂

(Please click on the image below to download)

Note: You must have your Gmail or Google Docs account open for the download to work.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Battleships Ahoy!

A few weeks ago I made a Bingo Board for my students to take home. It was a revision exercise to ensure that they hadn’t forgotten all of last term’s work. Anyway, I got some really positive responses from parents. I have been wracking my brain all week for another easy take home game and then it hit me! Battleships! I have some old boards from but they didn’t suit the words we were revising.

I have created two different Battleship Games for download. The first corresponds to the reading scheme that my class follows. Anyone using Starways might like to use is as it covers half of the vocabulary for “Visiting”. The second one covers Dolch Pre-Primer words (I made 2 boards to cover all the words).  Instructions on how to play are also included in the download.

Just click on the picture to download.

Click on the picture to download.



Please let me know that you think.  I will make more Battleships games if people are interested.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Word Slide for tricky words (the, then, them, there, they, these)

Some of my students are having terrible trouble with the following tricky words:

  • then
  • them
  • they
  • there
  • these

The don’t call them “tricky” for nothing! They look similar, too similar, and only some can be “sounded out” correctly. So, where to begin?!

It is important to draw their attention to the familiar chunk in all these words :

  • then
  • them
  • they
  • there
  • these

I have created a word slide to help make the similarities and differences between the words more obvious.  I also think that it is kinda cute! What do you think?

You just slide the letter up into the window to create a “tricky word”. Generally, after doing this for a few days the penny will drop 😉

To download your free word sliders please click on the image below. There are two different images to choose from, a Gingerbread Man and Monkey Business.

It is pretty easy to put together. Just have a look at the photo. Fold it in half across the flap. Cut out the window and a tiny piece from the top to allow the letters to slide up and down.

Note: When downloading don’t forget to have your gmail or google docs account open. Click save when requested to do so at the bottom of your screen ( the warning is because the document is large, not because it is unsafe!)

I really hope that you find this useful. Please let me know if you would like me to create some more word sliders.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Clipart by DJInkers

Concentration Game

Concentration is a great way to practice numbers, words, colours, or shapes.  The possibilities are endless.

I made this  “Shape Concentration Game” from a really cute note pad produced by Trend Enterprises Inc. They are available for purchase on

You can make your own by photocopying a shape ( eg. a cupcake) on to card and cutting it out.  (Note: it must be card as paper is too light and you can see through it 😉 ). I have laminated mine for extra durability.

I have uploaded some free printable for you to use, just click on the link: Free Printable Concentration Cards

How to make your concentration game:

Stick pairs of words/shapes on  the back of interesting cut-outs or notepads.

How to play alone:

Shuffle the cards and spread them out on the floor.

You many turn over two cards at a time.

  • If your cards do not match: turn them over again ( they should be in the exact same place as where you found them).

  • If your cards match: take them from the floor and keep them in a bundle.

The game is over when all the cards have been located and matched.

How to play together:

  • Alternate turning over cards.
  • The winner is the person with the most pairs at the end.


You could just laminate your cut-outs without adding anything to the back. This will give you blank shapes. You can then temporarily tape or blu-tack your words to the cards and change them for new ones as necessary. Cheeky!

DIY Word Family Sliders

Pick up some paint sample cards from your friendly DIY Shop. You will need two different types of sample, a block colour card and multi-coloured card.

Divide the block colour card in half.  Then draw a square the same diameter or slightly smaller than the squares on the other sample.

Now carefully cut out the square that you drew to create a window for your slider.

Fold your card in half, trace the right and left side of your window viewer.

You then apply glue to only the right and left of these lines, not above and below. You are creating a back for your slider.

Write out the letters of the alphabet on your multi-coloured samples, one letter per box.

Label your slider with a word family, in this case “an”.

Insert your multi-coloured card into the slider.

Get sliding to create your own Word Family Cards 🙂

Why should I make this?

For the science behind this game please see my post on Onset and Rime.

It’s a fun way for children to practice Word Families.

Not all of the letters you slide through the window will create “real words”. This will help your child to learn to distinguish between real and nonsense words (an important reading trait. Difficulties with this in an older child could indicate Dyslexia).

It would take me forever to make…

You will only have to make the letter slides once as they can be inserted into any family slider that you create.

After that you will only have to make one or two sliders per week to match your child’s spelling list. If you are feeling lazy you could put a sticker on the slider and write the family with your pencil. You could then rub out and re-use the same slider.

I hope that you find this post helpful!