I am new to this. I am trying to figure out where/how students would get enough phonics practice in Daily 5 (outside of a teacher conference). It seems that just writing the words in word work would not be enough. I am dealing with first graders who might not have all the letter/combo sounds down yet.






We looked for a way to make phonics fit into authentic reading and writing, and came across a program called “The Phonics Dance”. It’s really not a dance, but rather chants to the alphabet sounds and common hunks and chunks. The lessons definitely fit into the “mini” category, and there are charts up in the room and sentence strips available for students to use as reminders and tools while reading and writing. It’s a program that allows you to introduce the hunks and chunks as your students need them, groups them in common patterns and introduces easily remembered chants to help the kids remember them.
After the alphabet and chunks are introduced, and students practice saying the whole routine daily (takes at the most 5 minutes. Teachers (and other students) refer kids to them all the time while reading and writing.
I’m sure my description is not too clear, so let me give you a link to a youtube video showing Ginny Dowd (the originator of this program) doing the Phonics Dance with her class. Also, her website is , It works perfectly with Daily 5/CAFE for our K, 1st and 2nd graders, and is used consistently across those levels at my district. Definitely worth checking out (and inexpensive).
You tube:

Kristy Dearden

I use one infamy mini lessons for phonics. Our ohonics is imbedded into our basal program so I use the ohonics lessons from that.

Robin Wooten

These are good suggestions and I appreciate them, However, I am still trying to reconcile not having specific phonics practice outside of the mini-lessons to reinforce the subject of the phonics mini-lessons. Without a reading selection tied to the phonics lesson and a quick small group session - they could easily go a period of time before hitting those letters/ combination of letters/ sounds again. The first grade students I know have still been gathering their letter/sound correlations and seem to need a lot of practice. I also wonder if merely writing the vocab/sight words provides adequate practice in reading them. Perhaps, more of you with more experience than myself could sound in on this. Thank you!


I think once you start looking around, you will see that most of the phonics skills you will be teaching your first graders appear in most texts that they will be reading. What books do you use for your small group instruction? Pointing them out in the text you read will help them see that the phonics skills appear not only in “special texts” but in everything they read.
Also, there’s nothing to say that your strategy groups can’t have a phonics focus say once a week, or as appropriate for a specific group. I would ask you to think about your usual group of first graders . . . I would be very surprised if they all really need the same phonics instruction. Yes, some will still need the practice and support of working with letters and sounds, but I’d bet you have some that have mastered those and are ready for more sophisticated phonics skills. It would be as unfair to hold those kiddos back as to push kids who aren’t ready too quickly.
I hope those thoughts make sense, and would love to hear your response. I love having these conversations with others.

Robin Wooten

I liked the suggestions but I really worried about the ability of the common Word Work activities to meet the great need of first graders for phonics practice and wanted this phonics practice to be included in Daily 5. After much thought on this. I came up with another idea - to form TWO Word Work areas. One is Word Work for Accuracy (for phonics related work) and another is Word Work for Fluency & Extending Vocabulary ( for more traditional sight word practice, etc). I am hoping naming them such will keep students focused on the goals as well. I like including self-checking activities in the accuracy area so students would have immediate feedback. I am toying with having a set rotation in the first two days of the week so every student gets to each area, then incorporating choice the rest of the week (of course they will have choices in each area). Does anyone already do this/something similar? Comments? Suggestions?

Deirdre Kavanagh

I’m super new to all of this (I’m in Nunavut Canada) and we’ll launch the Daily 5 at the end of March. I like your idea of two stations for word work.


R–I think whatever works in your classroom and makes you feel comfortable with what your kiddos are learning is fine. Each one of us has some differing and over-riding parameters that we have to deal with. Wishing you the best–and keep us posted on how it’s all going.
D–The best of luck to you in your launch, and let us know if we can help in any way. We want this to be a forum to help you implement Daily 5 in the best way for your school.

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