The Best Phonics Toys for Preschoolers

7 min read

Last Modified 31 August 2023 First Added 31 August 2023

Your child is growing up (fast) and now is the time to teach them how to speak, recognise letters and numbers, and eventually read.

Phonics is the key ingredient for this learning journey.

Phonics is the process of teaching children to correlate an individual sound with its corresponding letter or letter group. A bit like building blocks for literacy if you like. It is also seen as a reading instruction approach that teaches the relationship between sounds (phenomes) and their associated written letter combinations (graphemes).

Teaching your child phonics will be one of the first steps in their speech journey.

There are many tools, books and games to help your children learn phonics and develop their language skills. In this article, we will guide you through the best phonics toys to help your children learn their ABCs.  

Girl learning phonics.

The Wonderful Benefits of Phonics Toys for Pre-Schoolers

Learning phonics will pave the path to speaking, reading, and writing skills. This will also develop their vocabulary and get them to know a wider range of words and phrases. Here are our top 5 toy picks for phonics, we hope you will find it useful:

1. Abacus

An abacus will help your little one become familiar with the letters of the alphabet. For example, the Woodlets Alphabet Abacus can aid your child in learning the whole alphabet and 10 numbers using the images on one side. This is a great toy for developing your child’s learning skills while stimulating their imagination with all the colourful blocks. We recommend this toy for ages 3 and above.

2. Magnetic letters

Once your little one is more comfortable with the letters of the alphabet, they will be able to try and create words on their own (or with our help at first). This wonderful toy will help them spell words and stick them on the magnetic board. The board can also be written on, maybe you can draw a picture of a cat and watch as your child begins to spell it out. The Early Learning Centre Magnetic Playcentre (available in red and pink) is a great toy for your child to develop their language and communication skills while making learning fun.

3. Alphabet games

Nothing beats learning and playing simultaneously. There are a multitude of games around to learn while having fun, try out card games such as the Early Learning Centre Alphabet Pairs. You can hold up the letter and let your little one guess what it is, or say a word and have your child point to the letter it begins with. This game is great for encouraging your child to read while developing letter recognition.

Toddler learning phonics.

4. Interactive toys

Another great way to learn is through interactive games. There is a wide range of interactive learning toys to help your child learn their ABCs in a different and fun way, for example, the Peppa Pig’s Phonic Alphabet or VTech Touch & Teach Tablet are great stimulating toys that can develop fine motor skills and problem solving alongside an introduction to numbers, letters, colours and spelling.

5. Word games

You may find your little one finding letter recognition a lot easier, now it is time to start making words! There are several games to aid in them learning full words and making sentences such as Plugo Letters by PlayShifu – Word Building and English Grammar Kit or Plugo STEM Wiz Pack by PlayShifu 3-in-1 Words, Maths and Magnetic Blocks. These toys combine hands-on learning with healthy screen time. Toddlers can spell out words using the alphabet tiles and grow their vocabulary while boosting their creativity and storytelling skills.

This step is little more advanced but will still allow your child to learn and have fun.

There are a lot of learning toys available to enhance your children’s learning skills and toys to learn reading skills, do not hesitate to look around. You can choose phonics toys based on your child’s age as well as their interests or skill level.  

The Right Time to Introduce Phonics

You may wonder when the right time is to start introducing phonics to your children. Well, there is no definite timeframe for this. This will depend on each individual child and whether you think your little one is ready to embark on this learning journey. However, most children are ready to start learning phonics in preschool from around the ages of 3 to 5 years old.

It all depends on each child’s learning skills, and it is important not to force them or start too soon, they will get there, in their own time.  

Different Approaches for Teaching Phonics

There are a few different learning approaches when it comes to phonics: Synthetic Phonics, Analytic Phonics, Linguistic Phonics and Embedded Phonics. Let’s break them down:

  • Synthetic phonics: Also known as blended phonics or inductive phonics, is a method for learning reading skills which first focuses on the sounds of letters and then builds up to blending these sounds together to achieve full pronunciation of whole words.
  • Analytic phonics: Unlike other systems of phonics teaching, the analytic method teaches children to read by grouping words and recognising similarities between them. This approach involves teaching children how to identify whole words and then break them down into their component sounds. It focuses on helping children recognise patterns in words and use those patterns to identify new words.
  • Linguistic Phonics: This method will help children understand how the print code in English language works. It is an integrated approach, providing children with strategies to help them problem-solve words for both reading and writing. This approach involves teaching children about the relationship between sounds and spelling. It focuses on helping children understand the rules and conventions of the English language, including how different letters and combinations of letters can represent different sounds.
  • Embedded phonics: This approach involves teaching phonics within the context of reading and writing activities. Rather than teaching phonics as a separate subject, it is integrated into other literacy activities, such as reading books, writing stories or general storytelling.
Toddler sat at desk learning.

Make Your Own DIY Phonics Toys

Teaching phonics to your little one does not have to break the bank, as you can also make your own DIY phonics toys to support your child’s learning. This will also allow you to bond through arts and crafts with your child. These toys can be made from common household items meaning anyone can make them with what they find around the house.

  • Alphabet sensory bottles: Get a few plastic bottles and fill them with items that correspond to each letter of the alphabet, for example, animals for “A” or cars for “C” and seal them up. Children can shake the bottles and search for the items while learning the letters and sounds. What great fun!
  • Letter hunt: Much like treasure hunts or a game of hide and seek, hide magnetic letters around the house and have your child go on a hunt to find them. Once the letters have been found, place them on the magnetic board or chart with corresponding pictures (“A” for apple, “B” for ball etc…)
  • Letter matching game: Write uppercase and lowercase letters on small pieces of paper or Popsicle sticks. Have your child match the uppercase and lowercase letters to reinforce letter recognition and the connection between uppercase and lowercase letters.
Boy learning with blocks


Learning phonics can be as easy as ABC and if you can make it fun for your child while they are learning, it will make it even better! Do not forget that children learn in their own time, but learning in a fun way will always be easier for them (and for you!). There are so many toys and tools available to support your little one’s learning journey, it has to be something to suit every individual child’s learning skills.  

And if you do not find anything that suits you or your child’s needs, you can make your own phonics toys to make learning unique!  

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