Paper Plate Phonics Activity

3.7 based on 17 ratings
Updated on Jul 3, 2013

In first grade, the reading wheels are turning. First graders develop their reading skills rapidly, applying lots of different strategies to decode words they don't know. One strategy is learning to recognize beginning and ending letter patterns, such as "st-" and "-ack." Once kids start learning these patterns, reading new words gets a lot easier! This spinning phonics wheel is a cool way to practice word endings, and it's fun to make, too.

In phonics terms, beginning letter patterns are called onsets, and endings are called rimes. Rimes always start with a vowel, while onsets are groups of letters that come before the vowel.

What You Need:

  • 2 paper plates
  • Scissors
  • Marker
  • Brass fastener

What You Do:

  1. Stack the paper plates on top of one another, and poke a small hole straight through the center of both plates. Separate the plates.
  2. Use scissors to cut a 2” square in the top plate. The square should be about an inch to the right of the center hole.
  3. Use the marker to write a rime (or ending letter pattern) on the right side of the window, such as “at.” (See the list below for some common first grade rimes.) Be sure to write the rime about the same height as the cut-out window, and use lower-case letters.
  4. Attach the two plates with a brass fastener at the center. The plate with the rime and window should be on top.
  5. Use the marker to write a letter (or a cluster of onsets) on the portion of the bottom plate that appears in the cut-out window, such as “c”.
  6. Turn the bottom plate clockwise until the “c” disappears, then write a different letter in the window. Continue in this manner, writing a letter, then turning the plate, until you come back to the letter “c.”
  7. Now it's time to play! Hand your child the plates, and have him turn the wheel until a letter appears in the window. Help him blend the beginnings and endings to make new words!

Some common first grade rimes include:

-ab, -ag, -ack, -at, -ap, -an, -am, -ad, -ake, ate; -ed, -en, -ell, -eck, -eel, -est,; -id, -ill, -ig, -ick, -ip, -ide, -ike; -op, -ot, -ock, -og, -oat; -ug, -uck, -ut.

Liana Mahoney is a National Board Certified elementary teacher, currently teaching a first and second grade loop. She is also a certified Reading Specialist, with teaching experience as a former high school English teacher, and early grades Remedial Reading.

How likely are you to recommend to your friends and colleagues?

Not at all likely
Extremely likely