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Grab Those Gumballs: Hands-on Phonics Game Your Students Will Love! 

hands-on phonics game

Teaching phonics is a fundamental part of early elementary school years. Phonics instruction helps students develop important reading skills by teaching them how sounds and letters relate. Incorporating interactive and engaging activities into your teaching will not only keep students more motivated but also improve their learning outcomes. “Grab Those Gumballs” is a versatile and customizable hands-on phonics game your students will love to play!


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Why Games are an Effective Teaching Strategy for Phonics

Using games to teach phonics to young children is effective for several reasons!

1. Hands-on Learning

Games provide hands-on learning opportunities for students! This kinesthetic learning style is especially beneficial for tactile learners who thrive on physical interaction. 

2. Make Learning Fun

Games also create a positive and enjoyable learning environment. When students have fun, practicing phonics just feels like play (instead of work!).

gumball hands-on phonics game

This is likely to increase student motivation and excitement for learning. When they’re happy to learn, they will retain content more easily– win, win!

3. Opportunities for Social-Emotional Learning

Finally, games provide opportunities for students to practice important SEL skills like turn-taking, teamwork, forming positive relationships with peers, self-confidence, and decision-making.

How to Play "Grab Those Gumballs"

“Grab Those Gumballs” is a super low-prep and customizable phonics game. Type the targeted words once in the editable file, and they will fill in on both the gumballs and worksheet!

To make playing extra fun, use ping pong balls or create a sensory bin with rainbow pom poms.

hands-on phonics game gumballs word center
hands-on phonics game

Materials Needed:


FREE Grab Those Gumballs Editable Worksheets!

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Steps to Play

1. Prepare the “gumballs”

      a. Playing with Ping Pong Balls: write target words onto each ball

     b. Playing with Pom Poms: type the different words into your editable file

2. Place the gumballs in a clear container 

3. Students take turns reaching into the container, grabbing a gumball, and reading the word.

4. Students color the matching gumball on their worksheet.

5. Continue playing until everyone’s worksheet is completely colored in!

gumball words sensory center hands-on phonics game

When to Play This Hands-on Phonics Game

This game is perfect for phonics practice at so many different times of the day:

  • literacy centers
  • small group interventions
  • morning tubs
  • when students finish other work early
  • indoor recess
  • and more! 

Once you’ve done the minimal prep, it’s also a great substitute-friendly option!

hands-on phonics game editable gumball worksheet

Edit this hands-on phonics game over and over again as you introduce new phonics skills to your students. They’ll have so much fun grabbing gumballs, they won’t mind playing all year long!

More Interactive Ways to Teach Phonics

If you’re looking for more hands-on ways to teach phonics this year, go no further…Phonics Charades and Guess & Groove are the perfect next choices!

What is Phonics Charades?

Phonics Charades is exactly what you think it is– students act out different phonics words that fit your lesson.

It’s so much fun and perfect to play in small groups or as one large group!

What is Guess & Groove?

Guess & Groove is a whole-class activity that incorporates important phonics skills with engaging movements!

Students guess from two pictures. They practice writing simple words that match pictures. If their guess is correct, they get to groove!

“Grab Those Gumballs” is low-prep and customizable– exactly what a busy teacher like you needs. This hands-on phonics game will quickly become one of your students’ favorite ways to practice phonics skills too. Be confident in your choice to incorporate games into your phonics instruction, and watch your students flourish!

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Emily Yerty

I’m a teacher who believes in creating a classroom kids love and activities that keep them engaged all day!

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FREE Grab Those Gumballs Editable Worksheets!

Leave your email below and we'll send you this free resource right away!