Using Google in my First Grade Classroom to Build Phonemic Skills

Using Google in my First Grade Classroom to Build Phonemic Skills

 About a year and a half ago I decided to take the plunge and push myself outside of my comfort zone. Our school district was working hard to get Chrome Books into the hands of our students. They were slowly getting rid of the desktop computers and I knew I needed to find a way to utilize them in my first grade classroom. Lucky for me, there are many educators out there who had already taken the plunge and were super helpful in the learning process.  Once I began using them, I realized how easy it actually was, and how motivated and engaged my students were.  Living with 7 of my own kiddos I realize how driven they are by technology. In my own home we have limitations and I feel the same in the classroom. They do not consume us daily but they are definitely a small part of our day.

I knew I wanted to find different ways to make my phonemic learning and word work more digital.  I came up with 4 different activities I use consistently with my students. Usually we practice them together in whole group using the SMART board.  Then I go and assign them using Google Classroom. (The best invention EVER).  I won’t harp on Google Classroom too long but I will make a few amazing points on this Google App. It is super easy to send an assignment to your students. It automatically makes an individual copy for each student. The coolest feature is that it allows me to differentiate. I can pick students I want to send assignments to. Not everyone needs to work on the same thing! 


One of our favorite activities to work on is called Turtle out the Word.  This activity is a great way to work on phoneme segmentation. It begins with a word. The students look at the word and say the sounds slowly…like a turtle. Once they have the word identified, they drag the matching picture for the word. In this picture we were working on the diphthong ow for the week. You can see the students up at the SMART board here completing this as a whole group.  By the way..if you have a SMART board it is easy to drag and drop if you make a fist. I have 48 different assignments for Turtle out the Word.
 Here is a sample of what is looks like up close.


Another fun activity we do is called Build a Word. With this activity we focus on segmentation and spelling specific word patterns. Students look at the picture provided. Then they drag and drop the letters to spell the word in the boxes provided. Sometimes the pictures can be tricky so I do like to play them together whenever I get a chance. 
 Here is a before and after picture.

Clip activities came to me from the traditional activity where you use a laminated card and a clip. The process of cutting and laminating all of the cards, only to have them last a year or so was not appealing. Instead my students will work on the same concept but digitally instead. No laminating, copying or cutting for me. During this activity, students look at a picture. They drag the clip the correlating sound in the picture.  Here you can see that we are working on r-controlled vowels. 
Here is an up close picture of an s blend activity.


Finally, one of my favorites was also created to use less paper, time and glue. They are called digital word sorts. I have over 200 different sorts that I can send to my students throughout the year. Students drag and drop the words into the correct column. There are also little yellow frames that can be dragged over the specific phonic focus for the week. 
Here is a photo of us completing it together on the SMART board and individually on the Chromebook. 
I can finally say that I have completed all of the skills I use in my first grade classroom and have them organized for each week of our learning next year. It was a long process but so worth it. Once they are done, there is only one thing left to do, send them to the kids.  This MEGA BUNDLE contains 333 different assignments you can use with your students throughout the entire year. It is an all access phonemic pass. It covers initials sounds, final consonant sounds, cvc words, short vowels, cvcc words, long vowels, cvce words, vowel teams, digraphs, diphthongs, r-controlled vowels, blends, and word endings. I took the plunge on Google and have never looked back.



  • Hello!

    I am excited to see this idea in another classroom. I also use google slides for the same purpose and the ease of accessibility when I’m working from home. While your slides are BEAUTIFUL I also like to have my students drag and move but it seems we can only do it when it’s in a certain mode, not in presentation mode (full screen). How are your students able to click or move when it is in presentation view? Thank you!

    • I use the google chrome Fullscreen Interactive Google Slides extension. Its orange with a green arrow.

  • Patrice,
    You can not click and move in presentation so we are never in that mode. We just open up the slides and use them that way. When we work on the SMART board, I am still not in presentation mode. I use my mouse to advance to the next slide, I have a wireless one. I also like to make the slide we are working on as large as possible so I hit command and the minus key to enlarge the screen. This makes it look more like a presentation mode. I hope that helps.


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I’m Megan, a first grade teacher and a mother to 7 amazing children. I love to create and collaborate with teachers. When I’m not teaching, I love spending time with my family, baking and playing tennis.

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