Phonics Directed Drawings (Free Download)

You may be wondering how phonics and drawing are connected. Technically, they aren’t. Or are they?

A newly published case study conducted at the University of Waterloo by experts on the science of memory shared exciting findings on the power of drawing pictures and its connection to recalling information. The case study had students review a list of words. Then, they had to either write or illustrate the words they studied. Students were able to recall nearly twice as many words that they had drawn versus written down.

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This is because drawing allows us to process and lock-in new information in a multitude of ways—kinetically, visually, and semantically, which is more effective than just tapping into one modality. As primary teachers, we are already aware of the value and benefits of drawing (and making our lessons as multi-sensory as possible). How often do we ask students to illustrate their comprehension or recall information through illustrations? Nearly every day! But having the research to back it up is just the chef’s kiss, particularly if you have administrators who don’t fully understand the value of illustrating. You can point them to the full case study here.

When it comes to phonics, it’s imperative that students tap into multiple modalities when learning new phonics skills. Tapping out sounds, letter building, air writing, and writing in sand or shaving cream are all effective techniques. But it’s always helpful (and fun!) to add new techniques to our teacher tool belts, which is why I’m thrilled to share this brand new resource with you: Phonics Directed Drawings.

Step-by-Step Phonics Directed Drawings

Phonics Directed Drawings is a new, multi-sensory resource that bridges phonics and drawing into one engaging, fun, meaningful activity.

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These phonics directed drawings cover all phonics skills. Each activity sheet is divided into different sections to allow students to practice the focus skill in a variety of ways. I’m breaking each section down below.

Step 1: Identify the Focus Skill and Draw

Students will identify the phoneme and grapheme. In the example above, the focus sound is /ea/ spelled “ea”, like in eat. To help students lock in this phonics skill, they can draw a picture of the focus word.

The directed drawing component is about the process, not the product. The steps are there to help guide them but don’t stress if their illustration does not match. In fact, you can encourage students to add extra details to make it their own pictorial representation of the phonics skill.

Even a simple doodle, which is what students are being asked to do in this case, is an effective strategy for helping them master each phonics skill.

Step 2: Write a Sentence Using the Focus Word

After students have illustrated the word with the focus phonics skill, they can write a sentence using that word.

You can have students circle or highlight the focus skill (in the above example, the child would circle or highlight “ai”.

Differentiation Note: I’m working on adding a single-line option for students who may need more writing space. It will be added on August 25th.

Step 3: Read and Highlight

In this section, students read and highlight each word or focus skill. This helps students recognize the patterns in each word.

Step 4: Trace the name of each picture.

For this step, students will trace the name of each picture. They can rainbow write the words or simply bubble in the letters.

Differentiation Note: I will be adding a version with no words so students have to encode. This will be added on August 25th.

Step 5: Read the Decodable Short Passage

The final step asks students to read the decodable passage and circle the focus skill. They will read the passage three times and color a smiley face after each read.

Prepping the Phonics Directed Drawings

There is a fun cover provided for you, in case you decide to place these in folders, binders, or in composition notebooks (I would reduce the size to 80% so they can be glued inside the notebook). You can also spiral bind these, if you wish. Or, you can distribute these out individually. It’s 100% up to you!


When to Use the Phonics Directed Drawings:

You can use these at different times/content areas in your day. You will want to explicitly model how to complete the activity before releasing students to work on these with a partner or independently.

Here are a few suggestions of when to use:

  • Small group instruction
  • Partner practice
  • One-on-One support
  • Word Work Station/Centers
  • Independent practice for struggling students
  • Early finisher activity
  • Before lunch/end of day activity
  • Morning work

Want to try the phonics-directed drawing activities for free?

If you’re eager to try the phonics-directed drawing activities but you want to see some of the activities up close, I’ve got the perfect freebie for you!

Click on the pink image below to access 30 FREE phonics-directed drawing sheets. If you love the free download, be sure to scoop up the whole bundle.

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If you are looking for a yearlong phonics directed drawing resource, grab the full Phonics Directed Drawing Bundle for your classroom!

You can snag the whole bundle for just $20. Click here to snag it.

What Phonics Skills Are Included & Coming? 

  • Short Vowel Sounds A
  • Short Vowel Sounds E
  • Short Vowel Sounds O
  • Short Vowel Sounds U
  • Short Vowel Sounds I
  • Blends
  • CVCE
  • Digraphs
  • Vowel Teams
  • R-Controlled Vowels
  • Diphthongs
  • Trigraphs

BATCH 1: ab, ad, ag, am, an, ap, at, ax, ack, all, amp, ash, and, ant, en, ed, et, ell, eck, est, in, ip, it, ill, ick, ink, ing, ot, og, op, ock, ug, un, ump, uck, unk – INCLUDED

BATCH 2: bl, cl, fl, gl, pl, sl, br, cr, dr, fr, gr, pr, tr, sc, sk, sm, sn, sp, st, sw, ch, sh, th, wh, ph, kn, wr, ng, ss, dge, tch – INCLUDED

BATCH 3: a_e, i_e, o_e, u_e, ai, ay, ea, ee, ie, y, igh, oa, ow, oe, ue, ew, ar, er, ir, or, ur, au, aw, oi, oy, oo, ou, scr, spr, squ, spl, str – INCLUDED

If you have any questions about the freebie or resource, please reach out to me in the comments below OR at [email protected] I hope you and your students thoroughly enjoy this resource.

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Leave a Comment

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Mary August 25, 2021, 2:24 am

    Very excited about this

  • Laura Priest August 25, 2021, 2:30 am

    Thanks so much!

  • Shefali Veera August 25, 2021, 6:23 am

    Wish to have more knowledge

  • Alex August 25, 2021, 11:48 am

    Will batch 2 and 3 be added to the original bundle or will that be sold separately? Just want to know if I should wait to buy

  • Lisa Janes August 25, 2021, 11:57 pm

    Looks awesome!

  • Reshma Rampersad August 26, 2021, 2:26 am

    This is Wonderful.
    Very interactive,multisensory, creative and Fun most importantly.
    Children will definitely enjoy doing these activities.
    Looking forward……..

  • Lucretia Johnson October 18, 2021, 4:15 pm

    great resource