I taught a combination of phonics and whole word. Phonics is extremely important to a solid reading foundation! But, to reinforce it, here’s what I did using whole words:
Make flash cards with words on them. First start with all different beginning letters (one-syllable words) such as dog, cat, mop, bat, hat, pan. Make 10 flashcards. Make 10 matching flashcards that have those pictures on it. Play this game:… Child matches the picture to the word. Emphasize the first letter and its sound. Can you find the C, C, Cat? Have him put the word on the picture. Do this for each one. Then put all the words down and have him put the picture on each word. When he does this very well, take out one word and add a word with the same start sound as one of the remaining nine. For example, take out mop and add dad. Make sure you use a picture of his dad. When he does the matching of the 10 words and pictures you have to differentiate between d..o.og and d..a..ad. Emphasize the second sound and show him the letters he needs to look for. After awhile, you can up the number of flashcards to 15 and then 20 and then 30. But don’t start increasing the number until he works well with the few.
When you begin to add words with the same first TWO letters it becomes even more difficult. Hat, hand, cat, can, cap…..etc, then he has to rely on later sounds in the word to make the match. Wait for this difficulty level until he does very well with first letters. Start with 10 alphabet letters and work up to 20 (different first letters). Then go back to 10 cards and have one or two cards that have the same first letter.