Some of the best homeschool activities are fun, creative and educational. Playing word family dominoes is a great activity to reinforce phonics concepts. After all, many words sound the same but look different, and many words look the same but sound different! I created this word family phonics game out of cardboard and scrapbook paper. You can easily make your own set of game pieces and even customize them with words for your child’s learning level. Playing a game is a great way to reinforce new concepts!
One of my favorite things about homeschooling is that we can turn lessons into playtime. Once my kids have finished their math and phonics workbooks for the day, we often do a hands-on learning activity. My girls have enjoyed playing this word family phonics game and matching up the rhyming words. This game is especially good practice for kids who are learning how to read.
How to Make the Game Pieces
To make this game, all you need is a sheet of cardboard, colorful scrapbook paper, a paper cutter or scissors, glue stick and a marker.
Phonics Game Materials:
- scrapbook paper or colored cardstock
- paper cutter or scissors
- glue stick
- black marker
First, cut the colored paper into evenly sized rectangles that measure 3 inches by 1.5 inches. A paper cutter makes it so much easier to cut out lots of matching game pieces. Because it’s so efficient, I absolutely love my paper cutter and I use it all the time! However, you can also use scissors.
You can use as many different colors of paper as you’d like, or make the game pieces all the same color.
Next, glue each paper game piece onto a sheet of cardboard so they are more durable. Arrange the paper game pieces close to each other to maximize the cardboard space. Apply a thin layer of glue on the cardboard with the glue stick. Firmly press down each piece of colored paper in columns.
Allow the game pieces to fully dry on the sheet of cardboard before cutting them apart.
Next, cut out each game piece. The paper game pieces reinforced with cardboard are almost ready to play!
As an optional step, you can paint the back of each game piece with black craft paint to make them look like dominoes. I used black chalk paint.
Finally, write a variety of words on both ends of each game piece. You can use this word family list for inspiration. It’s important to pair a mix of word family words so you can successfully play the game. Pairing all “ar” words with “at” words will create a dead end in the dominoes-inspired game.
bash ——— jaw
cap ——— jar
lap ——— sail
dash ——— mail
cash ——— clap
trap ——— fall
star ——— nap
How to Play the Phonics Game
Once you’ve created the game pieces, it’s time to play your word family phonics game!
To play, first lay all the pieces blank-side up and choose 5 game pieces. Draw one extra piece and lay it down on the table as the “starting piece”.
The first player starts by laying down a piece with a word that rhymes with one of the words on the starting piece. If they don’t have a game piece with a word that rhymes, they must draw another game piece.
The next player then lays a game piece that rhymes with any of the ending words on the pieces already on the table. Lay the pieces end to end, dominoes style. Example: star | nap > zap | tail > pail | fun > run | hall > wall | dash > stash | claw … etc.
You can turn the pieces at right angles and go in any direction you want, as long as the sides of the game pieces with non-rhyming words aren’t touching.
You can come up with your own rules for points!
One scoring idea for this game is to give each player 1 point for laying a card, and a bonus point if they can match the color too. 1 point = creating a rhyming match. 2 points = creating a rhyming AND color match. You can match rhyming words and colors often enough, which adds a bit of strategy to the game.
If you can’t make a match at all, the player can draw a game piece to end their turn. However once the game gets going, this almost never happens. The first person with the most points OR the first person out of game pieces wins! (if you aren’t keeping points)
We mostly played this game for fun and didn’t track any points. This word family phonics game is challenging enough for 5 and 6 year old kids and fun for everyone else! My 8 year old daughter had no trouble reading the words but she really enjoyed looking for matches.
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It’s fairly easy to make learning fun for kids, with a little creativity and time. Now that we have this word family phonics game, we can play it any afternoon! It was such a hit with my kids, I may make another version with harder words as my kids progress in reading. I hope you enjoy playing this game with your kids too!