Phonics Worksheets for Kindergarten - how to use a kindergarten phonics worksheet effectively for cumulative review

Phonics Worksheets for Kindergarten - how to use a kindergarten phonics worksheet effectively for cumulative review

Kindergarten phonics worksheets and printables can often get a bad reputation - and they should certainly be used sparingly. Explicit teaching, hands-on activities and rich learning opportunities should always come first, particularly when developing early literacy skills in beginning readers. However, there is also a time and place for using (evidence-based, quality) printable phonics worksheets with young learners too!

So, let's explore how to embed quality phonics printables into your phonics lessons with Kindergarten students (as well as 1st grade and 2nd grade students). Keep reading to find out how you can also get your hands on free phonics worksheets as well.

Cumulative Review

Cumulative review (otherwise known as cumulative practice) is the systematic addition of new skills to previously learned and related skills. Cumulative practice activities allow young children to consolidate new phonics skills whilst simultaneously reviewing previously taught skills.

Research indicates that once a new phonics skill is introduced, it should be reviewed for (at least) the next four to six weeks (Wiley Blevins, A Fresh Look at Phonics, 2016). Students need plenty of opportunities for systematic, purposeful review in order to master phonics concepts that have been explicitly taught. They can be completed as morning work, in small groups, or whatever is the easiest way for you to implement in your classroom. 

I tend to mostly review phonics concepts through play-based phonics games and activities because these sorts of activities can be used over and over again to reinforce concepts … plus play-based learning = super engaged little learners!! I'll share some of my favourite play-based activities for cumulative phonics practice in a future blogpost, but today's focus: worksheets/printables, and what makes a quality kindergarten phonics worksheet.

Some quality printable worksheet activities for reviewing phonics knowledge could include:

  • Read and draw the decodable words - this allows students to consolidate their letter sounds knowledge and decoding skills as they identify the sounds of letters and the name of each picture
  • Read, write and draw the decodable sentences - students can apply their letter sounds knowledge and decoding skills in the context of text (sentences) and draw a matching picture
  • Unjumble the decodable words- students must focus on the correct sound combination of the different letters, as they re-order the correct letter sounds while writing words
  • Trash or Treasure- students apply their letter sounds knowledge and decoding skills as they sort the nonsense and real words
  • Thumbs Up Thumbs Down- expose students to new words as they decide whether the decodable word matches the picture
  • Thumbs Up Thumbs Down- students must apply their spelling knowledge to determine the correct word (e.g. using knowledge of consonant digraphs and short vowels to identify whether puff or puf is correct)
  • Sound Boxes- focus on the beginning sound (otherwise known as initial sounds), middle sound and end sound in words by breaking decodable words into each sound
  • Missing Letters - another activity to encourage students to focus on the individual sounds in words. (e.g. focus on short vowel sounds by providing students with a range of CVC words with missing middle sounds)
kindergarten phonics worksheet for cvc words

Here are some examples of kindergarten worksheets which are also a free download! As you can see, they are full of fun activities to reinforce important skills which have been taught in phonics lessons. 

Answer keys are also a good idea, so that students can self-check and monitor their learning as they're going. I print answer cards 2 to a page to save on space and printing. 


Here are some easy ways to incorporate cumulative review activities and/or into your phonics unit in meaningful ways. You could also use phonics worksheets which focus on more complex skills as a lesson extension for some students e.g. long vowels, r-controlled vowels etc. 

1. Place in write and wipe mats and use as a literacy rotation

One of the biggest game-changers for me in my classroom was the introduction of write and wipe mats. Not only did they cut the need for laminating (SO much better for our planet!) but they are also one of the best ways to use high-quality worksheets and activity pages more than once - as fun games for literacy rotation activities! Write and wipe mats allow me to turn any kindergarten or first grade phonics worksheets into a game board

2. Create a booklet

I often create a Phonics Review Booklet (a worksheet packet) for my early learners - sometimes I'll print worksheets 2 to a page to reduce printing and space. I use this printable pack of phonics activities during dedicated phonics review lesson time OR as a fast finisher activity. My kids always have their phonics booklet in their chair bags ready to go whenever they finish their work early. Not only does it keep them busy while I'm working with other students, but it gives them extra opportunities to consolidate their phonics knowledge! I often add in a second worksheet set which focuses on other key skills such as rhyming words or high-frequency words. phonics cumulative review booklet for cvc words

3. Home learning activities

 Good quality downloadable worksheet pages can provide parents with an easy way of consolidating phonics concepts with their child at home. This is a perfect solution if:

  • You require some remote-learning activities
  • Your school requires you to provide homework activities
  • Parents ask for some holiday activities

Embed quality cumulative review in your classroom with these free worksheets for classroom use!

Cumulative practice will enable students to develop deep knowledge and automaticity, all while learning new skills as well.

If you would like to get started with some evidence-based printables which use a quality phonics worksheet template, these two FREEBIES are a great place to start.

Free CVC Worksheets

Phonics Long Vowel A Worksheets

And if you find these freebies helpful, you may enjoy the full sets:

  • CVC & CCVC/CVCC Sets 1, 2 & 3 - focus on single sound words, word families, consonant sounds and consonant blends. These are most appropriate for Kindergarten and first grade students. Each set introduces a new set of letters. 
  • Common Consonant Digraphs (ch sh th wh ck ll ss ff zz x qu ng) - focus on consonant digraphs. These are most appropriate for Kindergarten and first grade students.
  • Long Vowels - focus on vowel digraphs and all of the different ways to spell the long vowel sounds e.g. all the different ways to spell the long e sound. These are most appropriate for first graders and/or second grade students.

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