Giraffe Phonemic Awareness Game

Inside: use this cute giraffe theme phonemic awareness game to work on distinguishing the palatal sounds /sh/, /ch/, /j/, /y/, and /r/. This would be a fun addition to a zoo unit.

giraffe spinner and tokens with giraffe phonemic awareness game

I dipped my toe into the Science of Reading this summer. It has a huge emphasis on phonemic awareness. I was interested to learn that Science of Reading experts categorize sounds by how our mouths form them.

For instance, we use the roof of our mouths to form the “palatal” sounds: /sh/, /ch/, /j/, /y/, and /r/.

young boy covering his mouth with a classroom in the background

It’s important for little learners to hear the difference in those sounds – and to feel the difference as they repeat them.

That way, later, after they learn letter-sound correspondence, they will have an easier time decoding and spelling words.

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Giraffe Phonemic Awareness Game

With all that in mind, I made up a simple spin and cover printable game to work on the palatal sounds. I picked a giraffe to remind kids that this group of sounds includes /j/ for giraffe! (There’s really no need yet to confuse them with the hard /g/ sound.)

This giraffe is looking for just the right leaves to eat…

Materials & Preparation

You can grab the free printable at the end of this post. You might like to either print on cardstock or laminate the pages.

You’ll also need a spinner of some sort. I popped in this plastic spinner (affiliate) – I like these a lot and have used them for several spinner activities, such as this race car vowel activity. Of course, you can also just fasten a paperclip with a brad to improvise a spinner.

If you want to use the optional recording sheet you’ll also want to have some Do a Dot® markers on hand.

How to Play

  1. Spin the spinner and say the name of the picture that it lands on. Then, isolate the beginning sound and say just that.

  1. Look on the Leaf page and find a picture that begins with the same sound. Then, cover that leaf with a token. For example, if your spinner lands on the cherries, you could put a token on the chick.
  2. Continue until you have covered every leaf. Near the end you’ll likely need to spin again until you land on the sounds you need – that adds to the suspense of the game and is part of the fun!

Extend the Learning

If you have a toy giraffe, children can “feed” it the leaves or tokens, repeating the initial sound as they go.

More advanced learners can also find the sound pictures on the recording sheet and mark those with a dot marker.

Download the Free Printable

Ready for the free giraffe phonemic awareness game?

To get your very own copy, you can sign up right here:

    I’ll add you to my weekly-ish newsletter too – it’s full of ideas and more free printables. Of course, you can unsubscribe at any time.

    More Zoo Theme Resources

    If you’re looking for more ideas that have a zoo theme, you may like one of these:

    Free Zoo Name Worksheets

    Put Me in the Zoo Glue Activity

    Zoo Theme Personalized Readers

    zoo personalized emergent readers

    Happy Teaching,


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