Paint Chip Phonics

I found a great idea on The Snail’s Tail. She really does a good job of explaining it on her site, but I’ll try to do it here too. The idea is to practice the consonants, blends, digraphs and common word families. I have to admit I was a tad intimidated to walk into Lowe’s and grab a whole pile of paint chips, but the lady was talking to me the whole time and didn’t seem to mind. (Note: I did try Home Depot first, but didn’t like their paint chips, they were mostly 1 color on a card and didn’t have the ones with the hole cut out. Though later, I decided the hole was too small and used a 1 1/4″ hole punch to make it bigger.) Here is the list of the phonograms she used. The Phonogram Page is a great site that lets your child hear the phonograms correctly. All About Spelling has a list of Phonograms and how to teach them.

Shopping List:

  • 13 long cards (6 colors to a card) or 26 short cards (3 colors to a card) for consonants, blends, and diagraphs
  • 34 cards that have the hole cut out…12 if there are 3 colors on a card.

Here is a sample of the families, blends and digraphs (you can click on the images to see them larger):

Consonants and cards in action:

Since I had cards left over, I decided to make a “Shades of Color” game with them for my preschooler. You can download my color grid here, and I used a 1 1/4″ square punch to punch the colors out.

These word families go on the cards with the square cut out on them:

  • ag
  • ab
  • ail
  • ain
  • ack
  • ake
  • am
  • an
  • ank
  • ap
  • all
  • at
  • ay
  • eed
  • ell
  • est
  • ew
  • ick
  • ight
  • ill
  • ine
  • ing
  • ink
  • ip
  • ob
  • og
  • ore
  • ot
  • out
  • ow
  • uck
  • um
  • unk
  • y

The following consonants, blends, and diagraphs are all written on the long paint chips.


  • b
  • c
  • d
  • f
  • g
  • h
  • j
  • k
  • l
  • m
  • n
  • p
  • q
  • r
  • s
  • t
  • v
  • w
  • x
  • y
  • z


  • bl
  • cl
  • fl
  • gl
  • pl
  • sl
  • br
  • cr
  • dr
  • fr
  • gr
  • pr
  • tr
  • sc
  • sk
  • sp
  • st
  • sm
  • sn
  • sw
  • spl
  • spr
  • str
  • squ


  • ch
  • wh
  • th
  • sh
  • ph
  • thr
  • shr

How many words can you make? (there are over 500+ words in this set)

  • ab cab, lab, blab, crab, flab, grab, scab, slab, stab
  • ack back, pack, quack, rack, black, crack, shack, snack, stack, track
  • ag bag, rag, tag, brag, flag
  • ail fail, mail, jail, nail, pail, rail, sail, tail, snail, trail
  • ain main, pain, rain, brain, chain, drain, grain, plain, Spain, sprain, stain, train
  • ake bake, cake, fake, lake, make, quake, rake, take, wake, brake, flake, shake, snake
  • am ham, Sam, clam, slam, swam
  • an can, fan, man, pan, ran, tan, van, bran, plan, than
  • ank bank, sank, yank, blank, crank, drank, thank
  • ap cap, lap, map, nap, rap, tap, clap, flap, scrap, slap, snap, strap, trap, wrap
  • at bat, cat, fat, hat, mat, rat, sat, brat, chat, flat, spat, that
  • ay day, may, pay, say, clay, play, pray, spray, stay, tray
  • eed feed, need, seed, weed, bleed, freed, greed, speed
  • ell bell, fell, sell, tell, well, yell, shell, smell, spell, swell
  • est best, guest, nest, pest, rest, test, vest, west, chest, crest
  • ew dew, few, knew, new, blew, chew
  • ick kick, lick, pick, quick, sick, brick, chick, click, stick, thick, trick
  • ight knight, light, might, night, right, sight, tight, bright, flight, fright, slight
  • ill fill, hill, pill, will, chill, drill, grill, skill, spill, thrill
  • in bin, fin, pin, sin, win, chin, grin, shin, skin, spin, thin, twin
  • ine fine, line, mine, nine, pine, vine, wine, shine, spine, whine
  • ing king, ring, sing, wing, bring, cling, spring, sting, string, swing, thing
  • ink link, pink, sink, wink, blink, drink, shrink, stink, think
  • ip dip, hip, lip, rip, sip, tip, chip, clip, drip, flip, grip, ship, skip, strip, trip, whip
  • ob knob, mob, rob, blob, slob, snob
  • ock knock, lock, dock, rock, sock, block, clock, frock, shock, stock
  • op cop, hop, mop, pop, top, chop, crop, drop, flop, plop, shop, stop
  • ore bore, more, sore, tore, wore, chore, score, shore, snore, store
  • ot got, dot, hot, knot, lot, not, plot, shot, spot
  • out grout, scout, shout, spout, sprout
  • ow cow, how, now, brow, chow, plow
  • uck buck, duck, luck, cluck, stuck, truck
  • um gum, hum, drum, plum, slum
  • unk junk, chunk, drunk, shrunk, stunk, trunk
  • y by, my, cry, dry, fly, fry, shy, sky, spy, try, why

(Blends, digraphs, word families taken from The Snails Trail and word list taken from Literacy Connections)

Hope you have fun with these games and Happy Reading!


  1. Love, love, love it! Did you use the Martha Stewart square punch? I need to do that…make the square bigger. I like the color sort activity, too.

  2. That is great!!! I am super impressed. Wish I would have seen this when mine were learning to read.

  3. What a coooool idea! I love it! I'm bookmarking this!

  4. I love this. thank you and the original poster/blogger for thinking of it. I wanted to let you know that I did the above with my children. You can see it here. thanks!

  5. These are such great learning tools. Thanks, Karen

  6. Megan Gibbons says:

    Looks like Im off to the hardware! Wish me luck πŸ˜€ !!

  7. Hello, I am going still in school and would love to implement this in the class I’m doing my hours in and just was wondering if you could help me figure out how I would go about with instructions, how would I explain to the students what we are doing and/or what they need to do. I love this idea, I am off to the hardware store soon too!

    Thank you!

  8. Hi Erica! I’m really enjoying your website, thank you! I just ordered the LOTW curriculum for my 4 1/2 year old… a mid-year curriculum switch :-/ I am not doing the World’s Greatest Artists curriculum this year (although I hope to in the future), but I was going to print off your free art activities, and came across this. This looks amazing! What age/level would you think this would be best for? I want to make note of it so I don’t forget! πŸ™‚ Thanks!

Speak Your Mind