According to the website educationandbehavior.com, research indicates the importance of teaching children phonics as a preliminary step for learning to read. Phonics is the relationship between letters and sounds as well as the understanding of how those sounds connect to form words. Research also suggests that systematic instruction which incorporates word play (manipulating letters/sounds in words to change the word), writing words, and using manipulatives such as magnetic letters to create words are all effective strategies for teaching phonics.
I personally like to use zoo phonics for teaching letter names and sounds. It includes an animal visual associated with each letter and there is a corresponding action that matches the animal and letter sound. You can see how this works on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFr_S4Jn-tg&t=28s . I also have found that Bob books from Scholastic are helpful. You can check these out at the library or order them online.
Here are a few other fun phonics games and activities:
1. Letter Races
This game requires a magnetic board, magnetic letters, and a lot of space! Set up the magnetic board on one side of the room, and place the magnetic letters in a basket or bowl on the other side. Call out a sound, or a word starting or ending in a particular sound. Then ask your child (with a ready, set, go!) to pick out the correct magnetic letters and run over as fast as they can to stick it on the board.
2. I Spy the Sound
‘I Spy the Sound’ is a fun way to build phonics skills and phonemic awareness. In this variation of the classic game, ‘I Spy’, ask your child to spy words that begin with a certain sound, rather than a letter. For example, “I spy with my little eye, something beginning with mmm.”
3. Matching Rhymes
Rhymes help children understand that sounds in our language have meaning and follow certain patterns. Find a corkboard or something you can stick pins into. Write down a list of words on one side of a sheet of paper, and on the other side write down words that rhyme with these words, but in a different order. Then stick pins next to each word. Give your child some rubber bands and ask them to match the rhyming words on each side of the page by placing the rubber bands on the pins to connect the rhyming pair.
4. Phonics Hopscotch
This game helps children develop their ability to match letters to their sounds. All you need for this fun phonics activity is a piece of chalk and the ground. Simply draw hopscotch markings on the ground (how many squares and in what shape they are arranged is up to you). In each square draw a letter of the alphabet (you may want to draw both the upper and lower case letters in each). There are many ways you can play this game – you can call out a letter or combination of letters and ask your child to jump on those letters, and as they do, for them to sound out each letter. Or you can ask your child to jump on the letters in alphabetical order, sounding them out as they go along. You can also roll dice and ask your child to jump to the square that matches the number rolled, counting the squares as they jump and sounding the letter out at the end.
There are many, many, more activities you can find online to teach this skill. You can also talk with your child’s teacher to see what other activities can be done to reinforce phonics instruction at home.