Phonics Sounds Binders

Phonics Sounds Binders are one of my favorite secret tools for teaching reading! Keep reading to peek inside one of them :)

Phonics sounds binders - peek inside mine!

They are so great for helping students who are struggling readers (whether it's with a specific phonics sound or in general). They're also awesome activities you don't ever have to prep once you do it once for those "I'm finished!" moments during centers. They can grab a binder off the shelf.

Yes, they can grab it!! I recommend making one for each phonics sound you learn and putting them on a low bookshelf students can easily grab and take them to their seats.

Put them in the order that you learn the sounds so it is easy for them (and you) to put them back. You could also have a ruler, pointer, or long object they put in between the 2 binders they took it out from so that they know exactly where to put it back when they're done :) That's a teaching trick I absolutely love and makes shelf organization something the kids can do!

They do take a little bit of time to prep but once you do it once, you have it to use with your classes year after year!

They are also fantastic for, if you have a volunteer or someone who comes in to help in your classroom, you ALWAYS have something prepared for them to work with a student. Phew!

Okay, so let's look inside one of them!!!!

Phonics Worksheets Section of Binder

Long i worksheets in a binder for easy write and wipe practice!

The beginning of the binder has worksheets they can simply write the answers on with dry erase markers.

Long i sound words practice... look at this fun way to do this in a binder!!

They can go through and do the pages in the binder (or as much as they get done before clean up time) then wipe it when they're all done! So instead of printing copies of worksheets, they can use this same one over and over and over and over and over :)

Short and long i worksheets where students look at the fun picture then circle the correct spelling of the word for simple and easy practice!

It's so funny, you put the worksheets in sheet protectors and give them markers and all of a sudden, a regular worksheet feels like a game or challenge they're so excited to do.

Put the sheets in back to back (2 worksheets in each sheet protector) so you can fit as many pages as possible in the binder.

Long i word families worksheets and activities for easy and fun practice

All of these pages so far are out of my Long I No Prep Phonics Pack which has over 65 different long I worksheets to choose from and is heavily differentiated so you can pick the exact worksheets you want for the binder.

I recommend picking just 1 or 2 of each kind of worksheet so the binder stays exciting. If you're new to my Phonics Packs, I have them for almost every phonics sound and the activities are consistent throughout them so you'll never have to explain HOW to do each worksheet once they've done it before.

So, even though the sound may change, the activity is the same so they can spend all their focus on learning the new sound, rather than how to do the activity. Plus, like I said, you don't have to explain directions for any of the binders and they can truly manage it themselves.... SO nice.

Circle and sort long i words and short i words in this super fun activity for long vowel practice!

Sometimes I put more than one version of the same activity though! The Circle & Sorts above are a great example of that.

The first one I showed you was having them read sentences and sorting the words in the sentences by Long I word family. I like to include a sort for all of the word families so they get a ton of practice reading and sorting.

This is a favorite activity because you get to use 2 colors of markers to sort the words :)

Long i crossword worksheet puzzle that kids love to practice phonics sounds - these are one of my favorites!

The crossword is another favorite! If you think your kids might not be able to do it, try it! You'll probably be shocked how even your struggling readers can do this and it is adorable how proud of themselves they are for completing a crossword. I love it!

These are just some of the worksheets from my Long I No Prep pack that I would include. Other great ones to include are any of the word and sentence practice sheets - pick out whichever ones you want!

A favorite I love to include are the A-maze-ing Sentences sheets. At least 1 of those is in each no prep pack and they're a lot of fun!

Reading Activities Section

The next section is SO fun! Once they get past the worksheets section (or however many worksheets you want them to do first), they get to do the ACTIVITIES section!

Short or Long Vowel sort of fun pictures by the phonics sound they represent plus easy directions for how to make this into a game as you see here

I grab a handful of cut and paste worksheets also from my no prep pack and turn them into binder games!

All you do to make them is:

- Print TWO copies of the cut and paste

- Slide 1 of them in a heavy duty sheet protector

- Laminate the 2nd copy and cut out just the answer pieces

- Use fastener tape to put the fuzzy side directly onto the sheet protector where you want that answer to go. Also put a fuzzy side on each answer in the answer bank. This is where the pieces will start and where they put them back when they're done.

Note: Fastener tape is one of my favorite things!! If you've never used it - it comes like a roll of tape and you cut off the exact size you want. Then you peel it apart and it'll have a fuzzy side and a scratchy side that lock together. When you cut off a piece, I recommend making it slightly smaller than the box you're putting the answer in like below and putting it directly in the middle of the box.

- Put the scratchy side that is the exact same size of where the answer goes onto that answer piece.

Long vowel word families -ive -ite and -ide sort and so many other fun activities for long i

See how there is a fuzzy side in each of the answer boxes? The answer pieces all have a scratchy piece that matches in size on the back of them. I don't recommend doing it the other way around because then your pages are scratchy and it'll scratch up the sheet protector next to it.

See how you can see past the fuzzy pieces at the bottom where the answers were on the original cut and paste? This is SO nice and why you print 2 copies instead of putting a half sheet in the sheet protector. It makes putting the pieces back to reset it SO easy. They know exactly where to put them. AND if a piece ever falls on the floor, you can find what sheet it went to & exactly where it goes in order to put it back! You can also easily tell if a piece was put back in the wrong place (and this waayy limits that from happening). This. is. everything. haha

Long i activities binder - easy directions for how to make it!

I like to put a handful of them in there and have 2 showing at once when you open the binder like this.

They can practice matching the picture to the word with the "I Can Read" sheet...

Long i words practice - easy directions for how to make this into a fun phonics center!

and then be challenged a little bit more when they work on the Secret Word activity. The Secret Word worksheets are another one of my favorites.

Long i games DIY centers, so easy and fun!

They build the picture they see with each letter (in this example, they can use the activity they did next to this for assistance) and write the word. Once they're all done building the 3 pictures, they'll have leftover letters! They unscramble them to figure out the secret word! It's a lot of fun!

ABC order with long vowels words and other fun long i activities

I also like having 1 ABC Order sheet in every phonics binder to keep that skill fresh!

They simply move the words from the answer bank in alphabetical order in the boxes.

ABC order fun and easy practice

I wanted to show a close up picture of this one so you can see the tape is a smaller, more rectangle shaped piece for this activity sheet. That's the awesome thing about the tape - you can cut it to the exact size you want! Play around with it to figure out the size you like.

Once they have a lot of word practice, I definitely recommend putting in 1 or 2 of the cut and pastes from the no prep packs that practice sentences. It's great that they can read the words but it's so important for them to read them in sentences too. It's especially great if you can give them picture support with something like this:

Long i sentences practice with picture support - love these for building reading fluency and confidence!

For this activity, they read the sentence then put the picture that matches what they read next to the sentence. Easy but wonderful practice for moving from words to sentences.

Reading Comprehension Section

Now that they are ready for sentences, they are ready for the next section of the binder: Reading Comprehension Practice!

Long i reading passages that focus on 1 long vowel word family at a time for super focused fluency practice

Put all the word family reading passages for that sound in here and it's a great resource to grab anytime to practice reading that sound with a kid. Perfect to have available if you have anyone come in the room to work with and read with struggling students.

You can use your own or whatever your kids are used to.

These simple long vowel word family passages are perfect for practicing reading words with each phonics sound. 

If you notice, that passage focuses on the -ike word family, not all long i sounds.

If you want to include your own passages, I highly recommend only putting ones that focus on a word family at a time while working on short and long vowels. If it's ALL long i words, that might feel overwhelming or hard to read for some kids. This binder is meant to be a support and the quickest way to discourage a little reader is to give them something they can't read.

Plus, if the passages feel easy for them, it will build their fluency AND confidence. :)

If you need word family passages, these are from the Long Vowels and More Word Families Reading Passages set. I also have a short vowels word set as well as sets for vowel teams, bossy R, beginning blends, ending blends, digraphs, soft c and g... that are all in my Reading Comprehension Passages ULTIMATE BUNDLE if you want a ton of these for the year.

If they're doing it independently in the binder, you can have them circle the word family or sound they're working on in the corner like in the picture above. Then highlight words they come across with that sound while reading. Then, they read it a 2nd time with fluency. Last, they answer the comprehension questions at the bottom. It's great phonics, fluency, and comprehension practice all in one if you have them do that. :)

If you already have your own passages then you can use those. Just make sure they're easy and fun ones so the binder stays fun. Bonus points if they have pictures like mine. They can color those with the marker after they're done if they want.

Writing Practice

The next section is writing practice with words with the phonics sound - woohoo!

Long i writing paper with words down the side to make writing stories or even simple sentences super easy and fun!

Let's be real, it can be so tough to get some kids to write. Some kids love writing and other kids absolutely hate it. The solution?? Phonics Picture Helpers Writing Paper! They help SO much with the "I don't know what to write about!" and "I don't know how to spell it" objections. 

They're included in each sound's no prep phonics pack and have words with that phonics sound down the side.

Kids use the words down the side to write a story!

For kids who struggle with writing, need more inspiration, or simply like having 3 separate little stories, they can use the version below with 3 boxes.

Phonics writing paper in different levels that helps kids by providing pictures and words to include in their story!

The 3 boxes versions are great for the kids who really struggle to come up with writing. They can pick 1 picture from the side for each box to write a sentence about and draw a picture.

Most of your kids will probably use the sheet on the right, though. You can challenge your high kids with it by seeing how many of the words they can fit in their story and make it a fun challenge.

Phonics Games

Okay the last section... games!

You can put any games you have for the sound in here! As long as they are a page, they will fit! Spin A Word from my no prep packs is a fun option or anything where they roll dice to complete the page.

Long i reading practice in the form of a game! Kids roll the dice to read long i words then sentences with them!

I include level A (top left corner) of each word family (top right corner) in the binder in the words version first then the sentences version that includes those words.

They roll the dice then read the line for the number they roll on. Simple and easy reading practice!

Long vowel reading games to help build fluency and phonics skills!

If you want, you can put the level A version AND the level B version in there.

Long i word families like -ide in words and sentences for a ton of reading practice

Kids can roll and read independently, with you, or with a partner.

That's what I put in the back of my binder but you can also stuff any center activities you have in a sheet protector if you want to put centers in the back. You may not have room though - these fill up quick! It's really easy to put a center into a sheet protector though and adds to your binder's fun!

You may remember these roll and read games from my Short A Activities blog post where I show the short vowel versions of these :) They're a fun center!

So that's my Long I Binder!! 

I hope you enjoyed peeking inside of it! I am going to list some of the most common questions below with my answers but if you don't see yours, ask me in the comments section so I can help.

I hope you've enjoyed this post! If you want to see an organized list of other blog posts by me, 
be sure to check out my Miss Giraffe's Blog Post List page!

FAQ (feel free to ask me more below!)

Do you always use white copy paper for the binders?

I do. 

I absolutely love using bright colored paper typically and usually love having colorful activities for centers. You may remember my explanation of how I use fastener tape to turn cut and paste activities, much like the ones above, into colorful and reusable math center games in my Fact Fluency blog post (scroll to the red "Fact Fluency" center to see it).

However, for the phonics sound binders, I like to use white paper.

If a student is using the binder, it may be because they're struggling with the sound. I don't want them distracted by bright colors. I have had binders of colored centers and it's just too messy and overwhelming looking.

Also, having only white copy paper makes all of the activities look like the same "fun level" and they go through it so much quicker and thoroughly. A piece of colored paper sticks out in a stack of white paper. They'll race to get to it, thinking it looks more fun. Kid psychology, I don't know haha.

When do I use them?

Any time you want!

I think it's fun to make it a super exciting thing like, "Oooh Bailey, you finished your work?? You can pick a binder if you want!" so they're all excited to do them. Or even, "You can find a friend, pick a spot, and do a binder if you want!" 

If using it as a fast finisher activity like that, don't pick what pages they do or which sound they pick, let them do whatever they want. Even if your most advanced reader picks the Short A binder. Even if they skip right to the activities section or the game section, that's totally fine, they're still busy reading and learning! You can also have it be one of many fast finisher options so it keeps its allure. If it's always available (like anything in a classroom), kids can lose interest.

What I love them for most is helping a student struggling with a certain sound. They're fantastic for your struggling students to go back to any sound they need help with and specifically practice that.

Let's say you have a student that is on grade level but really struggles with beginning blends - grab that binder and work with them for 5 minutes or so after their small group is finished or during centers. It's so nice to have something to grab for those situations that is already prepped for you. Flip to reading passages... or do the activities with them... or write a silly story together using the words. It's an easy way to squeeze in a whole lot of practice!

You could also have a struggling student work on the binder for the sound for the previous week (or any sound they struggle with) as their center work a day or two. Instead of, not addition to. If they're struggling, you don't want to add to their work pile. They'll probably be very happy to skip their normal work to work on a binder instead and they'll get a lot of practice with the exact skill you want them to work on. If their normal work is something social or fun that they wouldn't want to miss out on or really enjoy (like reading with a friend), I'd keep that instead of the binder though.

If a parent shows up at your door in the morning wanting to volunteer without notice for you to prepare anything (eek!), you can have them grab a binder and work with a student. Then you don't have to scramble to figure out something for them to do. This is one of my favorite reasons for making binders. I find that ahh-what-can-I-have-you-do scramble so stressful.

If you have advanced students who finish their work super early and ask for more things to do (I was that kid), act like they're getting special VIP access to pick a binder for a sound you haven't even learned yet... gasp! It will challenge them and probably make them feel special. This is a lot of extra work (only once though!) but if you have either of my Phonics No Prep Packs bundles and there are sounds in there your curriculum doesn't teach (for example: the EW UE UI sounds), you could make a small binder for that sound that they can do. It will help extend their learning and reading skills AND they'll feel so cool they're working on a sound their grade doesn't even do.

Ways I DON'T recommend using these:

As a punishment or what they use if they 'fail' work for a particular sound. They shouldn't know they're doing the binder because they struggle with that sound or it loses aaaaall its fun.

I also don't recommend making it a mandatory activity they have to finish. If they don't finish multiple pages, that's okay! They're for fun and practice! They can pull them out and put them back, do 1 page or do 10 pages. I recommend keeping it laidback to keep it fun. You can "check" it like I said above so they don't just sit there but I'd make that a super quick skim and not stressful for them. Actually skimming it to see how they did is a great and quick formal assessment though too!

One of the cool things about it being a binder is they can take it to their seat and easily carry all the work they did to you to show it to you if you call them up to see it! This is probably me being cheesy as usual but try to act enthusiastic and super proud of them if they show you they completed a page or want you to flip through the worksheets or activities they did to show you :)

Can I send these home with a struggling student to work on at home?

I really, really, really, really don't recommend doing that. Did I say really enough? haha! They take a lot of prep work for you to send it home, not knowing how they're going to treat it or if you'll get it back. They could take out or move pages, lose activity pieces in their home or in their backpack, or damage it. It's just such a huge and wonderful resource that I recommend not ever letting it leave your classroom. Not even within the school.

What size binders do you use?

That is up to you! Mine are 1" and 1.5" depending on the sound. I highly recommend making ONE and seeing how thick yours is. You don't want it to be so stuffed that is hard to turn the pages.

The activities section makes it a lot thicker faster since the fastener tape is not flat. They also take the most time to prep compared to simply sliding pages into sheet protectors. An easy way to make your binder less thick (and spend way less time prepping) is to limit the number of those. BUT they are part of what make the binders so fun and game-like so I recommend including a handful of them at least.

Once you pick out the binder size you want, I recommend buying bulk sets of binders so they're all the same. I use white binders but you could do pink binders for short vowels, green binders for long vowels, blue binders for digraphs, and so on. That would make it a lot faster to find the binder you want and be really pretty on your bookshelf. :)

What if a student doesn't wipe it and reset it?

You can train them to always wipe it and reset it when they're done OR you can have a specific place they put the "done" binder so you can "check" it then put it to another specific place where fast finishers can grab it to reset it. 

You can also make it a classroom job for one of your fast finisher kids to reset any binders that land in the Reset Pile. 

If you want accountability (again, I recommend keeping that as light as possible if you can) for doing the binder, you can do it that way so they know you're going to look at what they did. Totally up to you whether you do or not, they won't know if you skimmed through it before putting it in the Reset Pile. :)

I recommend having a Reset Pile either way so if there are times where a student doesn't have enough time to finish resetting it (ex: they get picked up early), someone that's not you can reset it. You could even have them put it there even if they think they reset the whole thing for the person with that class job to check it before putting it back on the shelf.

The less you have to manage it, the better!

Can I make these for other skills?

Of course! I make something similar for each concept in my math units

The Composing Shapes binder is probably my favorite one! You could also make them for grammar skills or whatever you want!

Where do I get the pages to put in them? 

You can use your own or I have No Prep Phonics Packs for almost every phonics sound. You can get them for each sound you want to teach or I have them in 2 big bundles. This Literacy Page shows all the sounds I have if you scroll down a tiny bit. The specific pack I used in this example was the Long I No Prep Pack. I have them for a ton of different phonics sounds so you can use them to keep your binders the same all year if you want!

I also showed pages from the Long Vowel Word Families Reading Passages and Long Vowel Word Families Roll and Read Centers. I also have those in the other sounds as well.

I have a TON of phonics activities and, if I have them for one phonics sound, I usually have them for the other sounds too so you can keep your activities consistent all year. You can see a lot of pictures of my phonics activities in my Short A Activities and Digraphs Activities posts. If I show something for those sounds, I probably have it for the sound you're looking for too. I absolutely love reading and phonics as well as writing about them so I hope you enjoy those posts if you read them.

You can also use your own worksheets and activities and simply use this idea, of course! My biggest recommendation is to make sure the activity types aren't new in the binders so kids can do them independently without needing directions.

Any additional advice?

I already mentioned this but make sure you get heavy duty sheet protectors if you're going to make the fastener tape activities so they don't rip when kids take the pieces on and off.

Also - I already mentioned this too but these DO take a bit of time to prep each one. I recommend making ONE to see how long it takes you before you commit to making one for every sound you learn. You can really adjust how much you put in them to make prep take longer or less time as well. You could easily start out with binders that only have 10 pages in them - a few worksheets and a few activities. You can build them later and slowly make them thick like mine have become. Mine didn't start out that way! I added to it as I thought certain worksheets or activities would be fun to include. The great thing about a binder is you simply unclick and click it to add or take away pages. A 10 page binder for each sound is still AWESOME.

I know many people don't but if you do have volunteers, you can give them the sheets you want in the binder in order and have them slide them in the sheet protectors back to back for you. That would save a ton of time prepping! Prep them for the volunteer by putting the papers for each binder in an empty binder (be mindful of which ones will be back to back and next to each other when you're putting them in order) and have them stuff them. I personally like doing that myself so I can make the binder exactly how I want it but it really would save a lot of prep time to enlist help putting the pages in.

Make sure you pull out the 2nd copy of any of the activities sheets you want to use fastener tape to make so the 2nd copy doesn't end up in the binder. Set those aside to be laminated and the answers cut out.

This may sound silly but I recommend YOU put the fastener tape on the sheet protectors and answer pieces because, let's face it, many of us are perfectionists with that sort of thing and you can NOT pull that off in a pretty way once it's on there so you want it straight and in the right places.

& Lastly, don't stress yourself trying to make these each week. Make them as you make them and add them to your shelf. Maybe it takes you a whole year to get them done and you use them only a little this year. No worries! You'll have them already all done all year the next year. :)

Happy phonics binder making!!

Feel free to ask any other questions you have below and I will try to answer! :)

If you want to save any of these ideas for later, I made it so you can hover over any of the pictures and click the red "Save" button to pin them to your Pinterest boards. You can also follow me on Pinterest if you want to see more fun ideas like this as I share them! Thank you so much for reading!