Finding Phonics Spelling Patterns EVERYWHERE!

Today I am going to tell you how I taught my kids to find the Sounds Fun Phonics spelling patterns in just about everything that they see!  We have been using highlighter tape for this, and they absolutely LOVE it!  In fact, it is a favorite activity to do during their PLAYTIME, if you can believe it!!!

The children want to take the tape and wander around the room, searching for an “ing” or a “th.”  In fact, I finally had to put the tape AWAY, because I was pretty certain that there were NO MORE “un-taped” words with spelling patterns left on the walls to tape, and plus- they were just about driving me cRaZy!!!!

The Sounds Fun Poster with Highlighting Tape On It

This is how it all got started.  Recently, each grade level team at my school was given the opportunity to go on a “Learning Walk” through each of the classrooms in our own grade levels and watch one of our team mates teach a lesson.  (Yes, this was a bit stressful for some of us, and there was a bit of grumbling. But I’ve been through worse stress than that in the area of “being watched,” so it wasn’t too bad for me, thankfully!)

Our Color Words Pocket Chart with Highlighting Tape

While we were there, I was also able to walk around and take some photographs of some interesting projects that I saw on the walls!  One of the things that I saw in one of my team mates’ classrooms was the use of highlighting tape on a chart for shared writing!  It looked like they had written something together, and then looked for capital letters, words with the “th” sound, and perhaps also words with long vowels and/or a “Bossy E” in them.

This is the chart that I saw in my friend’s classroom.

I had seen this before, but never thought seriously about implementing it, but given how excited my students were about spotting the Sounds Fun Phonics spelling patterns here and there, I assumed that they would get a kick out of the activity!  So I decided to search for some of the 1 7/8 wide highlighting tape on Amazon, which I figured would be the cheapest place to buy it.  Actually, the cheapest place to get several rolls at once in a variety of colors turned out to be on a link that I found from Amazon, LOL!  The six rolls of highlighter tape cost me $36.50, plus $11 shipping.  I had to really swallow hard before I bought it, because that was nearly $50 bucks for TAPE, for goodness sake!  Luckily, I can write that sort of thing off of my taxes because I have my business; otherwise, I wouldn’t have bought it.  But for the record, I think you could do this with Wiki Styx also.  Just “underline” each word with a certain color of Wiki Styx.  And if you are working on a chart paper that you can throw away, you could also just use regular highlighter markers or crayons and throw the paper away when you are done.

Highlighter Tape in Six Different Colors

Once the tape came in, the rest was easy!  All I had to do was tell them that I was going to put some tape on our calendar word “March” to help us read it.  First I taped up the “ar” Pirate on our Sounds Fun poster, and then I put the matching color on the “ar” of March.  I had the kids help me choose which of the six colors it should be.  Then I had them help me choose a color for the “ch” sound, and I did the same, first taping the choo choo train on the poster, and then using the same color on the “ch of “March.”  Then we sounded out the word, using the Sounds Fun motions to help us!  It was easy!  For the rest of the month, each time we read the word, we stopped and sounded it out that way, (as long as there was time.)

Notice the days of the week with the “ay” covered with tape.
“Spring” in the upper left corner also has tape on the “ing.”

After that, it was a natural thing to invite them to find more “ar”‘s and “ch”‘s, and watch while I added more tape to other words.  Then we started branching out into other sounds.  We always first designated a color for that sound on the poster first, and stuck to it every time.  I was only able to find six colors of tape online, so some of the colors had to be used twice.  No one seemed to care about that, though!

Months of the Year Chart with Highlighting Tape

The funny thing about this activity is that the children now CANNOT stop looking for these sound spelling patterns!  They tell me about them all the time, no matter what lesson I am giving.  They tell me about them in the titles of story books, and on the words on the screen of the Animal Cams that we watch as I am taking roll.  They point them out when I am giving a math lesson, if I happen to write a word.  They see them in the objectives that I post for the day.  They find them on the calendar and focus board for the day.  They will interrupt ANY lesson and tell me about them.  (It’s getting to be a bit of a problem!)

My Helper of the Day Bear with Tape.

They wander around the room at playtime and find them on the walls and on books.  They LOVE to use the tape themselves, but I don’t let them very often, otherwise it disappears too fast!  I have let them do some taping at playtime, though, just because they are so “into” it.  I think that I am going to need to create a worksheet or something that has random words on it and see if they can use highlighters to find as many of the sound spelling patterns as they can!!!!

This is a chart that shows how to write a word like it sounds.

This Lakeshore Sound It Out Digraphs puzzle is a great match for Sounds Fun Phonics!

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  1. thank you so much for so many wonderful ideas!

  2. Awesome! One way I use so kids can show me they saw a popcorn word was just to do the motion silently. Perhaps you could have your kids do that with the sounds fun phonics... When you are teaching or they are reading, they simply silently do a mini motion of the sound and you smile in acknowledgement.

  3. I bought some rolls of repositionable book cover ??? at Dollar works just like the tape only so much cheaper. And you get a whole roll so you can cut it to fit whatever words you want. I save the pieces and place them on a place mat in order to keep them flat. Dollar Tree had several colors. I bought this stuff in August. Make sure you repositionable cover...NOT self adhesive!!

  4. To anonymous:
    Awesome idea!!!!! Sounds like that would save a ton of money!
    And to alohaging:
    That's a good one, too!

  5. I have planned to introduce your sound fun phonics this week; /sh/ is first up. I purchased my tape from Really Good Stuff. Kids do love it. I encourage them to reuse the tape if possible.

  6. To S. Parker,
    I have not thought about saving the tape to reuse it, but that's a good idea! Let me know how it goes with the "sh" unit!

  7. I reuse my highlighting tape by storing pre-cut pieces on overhead transparencies. It works really well! Once in a while, if you're not careful, they will rip when you pull them off, but if you start at a corner and slowly pull it, it works fine.


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