Five Minute Daily Phonics

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Names of Teachers: Adam Chludzinski, Ogata/Yabushita Sensei

Class/Grade/Language Level: Elementary 5th and 6th

Textbook and specific lesson: Hi, Friends 1 and Hi, Friends 2 - Alphabet

Goal: To teach students fundamental phonics, reading, and writing skills, culminating in being able to read and write a 10 plus sentence self-introduction, and better preparing them for Junior High School English Education

Preparation: 1xHandwriting notebook for each student, preferably the same type that your JHS uses

Class time: 5 minutes each lesson

[note]: Examples of students' work from this phonics program can be found at the bottom of the page.


The largest problem among 1st year JHS students in my area is their reading and writing skills. I started this project this year to try and help improve these two areas of English language acquisition.

This is my 5th year, and this project has been ongoing for the past eighteen months or so.

The larger aims of this project are

  • To improve students’ confidence in their own English skills.
  • To better prepare students for JHS by bridging the gap between ES and JHS English Education.

Goals for 5th graders include

  • Being able to write and recognize the lowercase and uppercase alphabet
  • Being able to sound out and read common words through basic usage of phonics
  • Being able to correctly write basic sounds of the Japanese language in accordance to phonetic rules (Shi vs Si, Tsu vs Tu).
  • Being able to write a short self-introduction

Goals for 6th graders include

  • Being able to recognize and read basic, commonly found phonemes (th, de, sh)
  • Being able to recognize and read basic, commonly found words (what, like, play)
  • Being able to read and write a basic, 10+ sentence self-introduction

These are lofty goals, but given the relatively small individual-lesson time commitment, it is extremely possible to cover a large amount of material over several weeks. Once students become accustomed to the flow of the activity, it can be done in less than five minutes of class time.

Preparation requires each student to own his/her own English notebook. My school provided the funding for this after several weeks of using copied lined paper. It is best if the students get the same type of notebooks used by 1st year JHS students – ones with 4 lines to help guide individual letter size, and anywhere between 10-12 lines per page.

The first few lessons will take longer, as students will not yet be used to how to use their notebook. Especially for 5th graders, be sure to cover proper spacing, formatting, and letter size.

Once students grow accustomed to how to use their notebooks, the required class time goes down. For 5th graders, we cover the alphabet 3 letters (Capital and Lower Case) at a time. For the 6th graders, focus on the building blocks necessary for a self-introduction.

Students will only copy the sentence down, and the actual practice is homework. This means you have to dedicate your own time to marking the notebooks. Providing feedback is extremely important. Examples included.

Student work
Student work