FREE 1st Grade Phonics Scope and Sequence
It is impressive all of the phonics content that a first grade student learns in one year. They are expected to come in as early readers and learn basically every phonics pattern in our language! It is impressive what some of these little seven year olds know.
I created a simple 1st grade phonics scope and sequence to help guide myself and fellow first grade teachers. This is a great guide for the school year and I hope it helps you in your classroom!
Since there is so much expected of these little first graders, let's talk about some of the major phonics topics here.
My absolute favorite thing to teach is CVC words. Simple CVC words are decodable and therefore students use their prior knowledge of letter sounds to read each word. It's best to start out the school year with something simple, it helps students get back in the swing of things.
I spend the first several weeks reviewing CVC words in first grade. This is a great way to benchmark students and if students are not able to master this skill, an interventionist is most likely needed.
First grade students do not need much time with digraphs. These are pretty simple patterns. Most students learned digraphs in kindergarten. Nonetheless, it is best to review these patterns with students for a few weeks.
Not all digraphs are taught in kindergarten though, for example the KN sound is typically introduced in first grade. So spending some time on digraphs is not a total waste of time! Furthermore, its always best practice to teach all patterns, never assume your students know something. Be explicit, clear, and consistent with your instruction...always!
Consonant blends are typically introduced in kindergarten, but students need to spend some time reviewing these words because they are still tricky for an early reader. Spending several weeks dedicated to consonant blends will do your first graders some good. You can pick up the pace compared to a kindergarten classroom, but know that some students may still struggle blending and segmenting four to five sounds. Especially when spelling unknown words. This time spent on consonant blends is beneficial for the students who needs that extra support.
There are hundreds of different resources out there, but I really love my consonant blend intervention unit. It has over hundreds of different consonant blend activities. These are perfect for your sweet first graders!
CVCE: Silent E
Silent E may have been a struggle for some kindergarteners, but in first grade students really grasp this concept well. But, silent E still takes a lot of practice to gain mastery. Have students spend ample time decoding, encoding and building words with the CVCE pattern as much as possible.
Some of the best activities I use are found in the Words Their Way Within Word Stage Resources Product. There are so many hands on activities for students to practice this unique spelling pattern.
Some R-controlled vowels are pretty easy, like AR and OR, while the other three are not! They all make the same sound, so spelling these words is a mess. bird...burd..or berd?!?! Phonetically those all say the same thing! Nonetheless, students need exposure to these higher level spelling patterns because they will see these patterns in the higher level texts they are reading.
There are way too many rules in our language if you ask me! The FLOSS rule is when you double up the letter, "f", "l", "s", or "z" at the end of a word with a short vowel. For example, floss...hence the name! Other examples include buzz, pill or puff.
At this point in the year, your students have only used long vowels when spelling words with the CVCE spelling pattern. Vowel teams are when two letters together, typically two vowels, make the long vowel spelling pattern. For example "ai" say /A/ like in rain. This is the long vowel sound.
If students have mastered previous skills vowel teams are manageable. That's why it is essential to spend the big chunk of time in the fall and early spring focusing on other patterns. Students need to really master these patterns before moving to the most challenging spelling patterns in our language, vowel teams and diphthongs.
I have tons of awesome vowel team resources in my Words Their Way: Within Word Stage Resources.
Diphthongs are the last thing I introduce in first grade. Diphthongs are two vowels together that make a sound beginning as one vowel and moves toward another. The most well known diphthong is "oi" like in coin.
Diphthongs are just another pattern students need to learn. If they master these sounds and spelling patterns they will find success when reading and decoding unknown words.
There are so many spelling patterns in our language and most first graders are expected to learn them all! This is mind blowing to me! Just remember with explicit instruction and consistency your students will get there!
Writing is a great tool to measure if your students have mastered the targeted phonics patterns in your unit. Students should be utilizing words with the pattern correctly. Writing is a great tool for progress monitoring and assessment.
First graders spend a lot of time working through the writers workshop process. Students write a variety of different genres and practice their revising and editing skills.
Sight words are my LEAST favorite thing to teach in any grade level. They are boring but so necessary. In previous years I spent so much time and energy focusing on phonetic patterns and didn't address sight words. My students could not master the benchmark readers because they continued to get stuck on sight words.
The best advice I have for sight words is to be consistent and repetitive. One of the major tools that I learned to use was when I created my own decodable book series. I found that my decodable books needed to build off each other, especially with sight words.
Students need to practice sight words for multiple weeks, do not just move on to the new words the following week and never go back to review old words. There are plenty of ways to practice sight words, I love using my Fry 100 Resources. There are over one THOUSAND pages of activities. Such a game changer having it all organized and ready for me right in one spot.
First Grade Final Thoughts
First grade is a super fun year filled with lots of content. There will never be a day when you can fit it all in! I hope this 1st grade phonics scope and sequence is helpful for you in your classroom! Happy teaching!