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A brilliant activity for pre school children and those identifying initial sounds. Set up a shop role play area. It’s nice sometimes to use real food items and packaging as this gives children the opportunity to identify print in the environment around them.
Each time your child visits the shop say that they can only buy items that starts with the same sound (bananas, biscuits, bread). As they pay for the items emphasise the initial sounds.
As a challenge you could give them a shopping list of items. This acts as a print matching activity for them. I write the list the same as the print on the food item so the words can be in capitals or lower case. They look at the packaging and try and find the words and items to buy.
Older children could read an already written shopping list with phonetically decodable words or write their own lists.
Another activity that I was super excited to set up. I know I need to get out more!
My son absolutely loves dressing up and playing Doctors. Most children absolutely love a plaster too! If you are willing to spare a few then you can use the real thing but you could always write the words on strips of masking tape. Adapt for age and phase depending on the words you write.
All words on the teddies in the photo are appropriate for children working in Phase 3 to have a good go at reading. Older children could write up their ‘notes’ and write a sentence for where they put the plasters.
I just added some signs to read. Older children could write their own.
Following on from the cakes this morning we wanted to carry on ‘baking’. I raided the play kitchen and cupboards and made a potion making station. If it was a bit warmer we would of done this outside but I laid a bit of tarpaulin down just to be safe 🙈 He spent a good hour playing here! Managed to have two cups of tea. Bonus! ☕
Work together to read the picnic foods.
Phonics Clothes Shop 👚🛍️
Using clothing items that you already have around the house you could set up a role-play clothes shop. I labelled some empty boxes and stuck some masking tape on hangers and wrote what item needed to be hung on them. Start by having all the clothes, bags, belts, hats etc in a laundry basket and hangers in a box or pile. Your child picks a hanger, segments and blends the word on it and and then finds the matching clothing item. They can then hang them on a rail (I used the end of our table) and arrange the shop.
A super activity as there are lots of clothing words that are easily decodable and therefore the activity can be adapted for every phase.
Phase 1: Your child picks a hanger, you orally segment the word and see if they can blend the sounds together to find the item and put it in the clothes shop. Start with easy CVC words like hat, bag, top, sock.
Phase 2: You can do similar to Phase 1 but they could also read boxes/hangers/labels with the words top, sock, bag, hat, red, rucksack.
Phase 3/4: Children working within Phase 3 could be challenged with these words. Some have adjacent consonants (taught in Phase 4) so they will need to be careful when the segment and blend so they don’t miss any of the sounds. You can have the words hats, scarfs, handbags, belts, hangers, green, jumper, dress, coat, brown, black, boots, slippers, tights and leggings.
Phase 5: You could include the words blue, white, trousers, skirt, shirt, jeans.
Once the clothes shop is set up you could leave them to role-play. You could also leave a few post-it notes out so they can put labels on some of the items themselves.
For all the aspiring vetinary nurses and surgeons. A great way to mix reading and role-play.
I gathered up some soft toy animals from around the house. I then wrote the vet records and medical notes for each animal. Adapt the notes for phase (see below for which record fits with which phase). This acts like a ‘What am I?’ type game. On each medical record is a tag that needs to be put onto the right animal. I used a post it note but you could use a gift tag and string like a collar or a strip of masking tape to go around a leg.
Your child’s job is to read the vet records and identify which animal it describes and put the tag on the corresponding animal. On each medical note there is a description of the problem too. Your child can read the problem and stick a plaster on the right part of the animal’s body.
Children working in Phase 1 you could read the records for them and ‘sound out’ some of the words so they can blend the sounds together and guess the animal. You could also ‘sound out’ where they need to put the plaster.
You could have blank tags instead and once your child has identified which animal the record described they could write the name of the animal on the tag.
Leave out a few other animals and some blank records for children to continue role playing and write their own notes.
The records in my photo would be appropriate for:
Rabbit – Phase 3
Snake – Phase 3
Dog – Phase 3
Pig- Phase 4
Cat – Phase 5
Bird – Phase 5
This activity will be a great alternative to matching the usual captions to pictures used in Phonics sessions or act as a fantastic prompt for writing.
We used Google 3D (I’m sure you’ve all used it but, if not, just Google an animal and press the ‘View in 3D’ button under the Wiki page) to take pictures of different animals that we had ‘seen’ on our walk around a local woodland today. A Tiger even came and joined our picnic!
If you can then ideally print out the pictures but, if not, your child can work from the photos on your phone or camera. You can then use the pictures to prompt story telling. Children in Phase 1 it would be a super way to support speech, language and develop vocabulary as you talk about the photos and recount the day. You could also have the names of the animals on cards and you ‘sound out’ the word and they match it to the picture.
For older children you could have pre-written sentences and they read them and match it to the picture, for example ‘I can see a green snake’. Some of the animal words are harder to decode but having the pictures there and using the initial sounds and other letters within the word they can try and work it out.
If you want to have a writing focus then your child could create their own book writing a sentence for each of the pictures. Children in Phase 3 could start each sentence with ‘I see..’ and children in Phase 5 could start with ‘I saw…’ and then have a good phonetically plausible attempt at writing the words, so for children working in Phase 3 writing ‘tighger’ would be a great attempt as they have used their developing phonic knowledge. Add describing words to make their writing more interesting too.
You could also use the pictures to write a recount of the trip and prompt your child to use time connectives to start each sentence (first, then, next, after that, finally).
I know lots of children love ‘helping’ with the washing up so this a super way to make phonics fun. As long as you don’t mind writing on a few toy pots and pans then this activity is perfect for children working in Phase 2 but can be adapted for children working in the higher phases by varying the words and even for children working in Phase 5 (see below).
I set out a washing up area with gloves, sponges and tea towels and got a selection of plastic toy pots and pans. On each item I wrote a word that either rhymes with pot or pan. Children find and wash a kitchen item, segment and blend the word on it and then decide whether it rhymes with the word pot or pan. For Pre school children you can orally segment the word and they blend it together and decide where it should go.
Children working in Phase 5 you could encourage the reading of words like ‘wash’ where “after the w the a says o”. Each pot and pan could have the words wasp, what, wand, watch, was, wander, wallet, swamp, swan, swallow for example.
Help sort the real post from the junk mail. Read through the post putting the real words in the postbox and the non-words in the rubbish bin. You can adapt the words for age and phase. I quickly made the postbox out of an old tissue box 🙈
The sun came out briefly and we needed to get outside! We rushed in to the garden and set up a car wash. You can write the signs for your child to read, work together to write the signs or older children can write their own. Having prices and using a till also prompts mathematical development and using the spray bottle supports physical development too 💦.
If you are willing, let your child label your car! This offers them a real motivation to write and the chance to apply their developing phonic knowledge.
For pre school children and those working in Phase 2 you can orally segment the word on the post it for them and they try and blend the sounds together to find out where to put it. For those working within Phase 3 and above they can have a good go at writing the labels independently. I would expect them to have a phonetically plausible attempt at writing all the words, so for a child working in Phase 3 writing ‘weel’, ‘windoa’ and ‘seet’ is great. 👍🏻 They have used their phonic knowledge appropriate to the phase they are in.
Those in Phase 2 I would expect them to be able to write ‘mat’ and ‘fan’ correctly. Children in Phase 3 the words ‘light’, ‘boot’, ‘gear stick’ ‘chair’ and Phase 5 ‘window’, ‘seat belt’ ‘steering wheel’ ‘hand brake’ ‘head rest’ and ‘indicator’.
Obviously this activity needs supervision as I’m sure we’ve all heard stories of children accidently releasing the hand brake!
It doesn’t have to be a car you label. It could be a bike, outdoor play equipment, or even items around the living room. Children just become really motivated to write using a post it note and sticking it on somewhere unusual!
This activity is a pretty easy activity to set up. All you need is a small tray, small cut up bits of paper or card, tweezers and a couple of sandwich bags.
Your child uses the tweezers to pick up a card. They segment and blend the word and decide if it is a real word or a non-word and then place it in the appropriate ‘evidence bag’. All of the words that I’ve used here are directly from the Year 1 screening check last year. You can see how many non-words children are asked to read.
For children learning to recognise the initial sounds and letters they could use the tweezers and sort the letters from the numbers or symbols and put them into the appropriate ‘evidence bags’.
Using tweezers is a fantastic way to develop fine motor skills and therefore support pencil and scissor control.
This activity ticks a lot of boxes. It not only encourages the use of your child’s developing phonic knowledge but it’s fun, practical, sensory, physical, supports the recall and sequencing of a story, understanding of adjectives and all through role-play!
My son has got back into ‘We’re going on a Bear Hunt’ so I set up some stations for each of the parts of the story.
Bedroom – blanket and pillow
Grass – some artificial long grass
River – a tub of water
Mud – some chocolate Playdough that I had from a previous activity.
Forest – some leaves on a chopping board
Snow storm – cotton wool pads
Cave – a sheet over some chairs and a Teddy bear.
I chose some words from the story that are phonetically decodable for Phase 4 and wrote them on cards. I also added in some other adjectives for some of the stations that are easily decodable. I then placed all the cards in the rucksack. Your child then chooses a card, reads it and then walks through each station to place it next to the correct one of which it describes, i.e squelch goes next to the mud. Return back to the start and choose a new card.
Adapt the words on the cards for your child and which phase they are in. For Pre-School children you ‘sound out’ the word and they blend the sounds together to find out what it says and where the card should go.
Once all the cards are placed you can then leave your child to further role play with the resources and retell the story.
All the activities on the tray can be adapted for all of the phases in order to support phonic knowledge in a fun and engaging way. You can pick and choose which ones suit you best and which ones you might have the resources for. I purchased the tap lights, light switches, matchsticks and plates from Poundland so the whole thing was very cheap to set up.
Your child can role play being a Handyman and complete some of the activities on the tray.
1. Draw some graphemes on a polystyrene plate and your child hammers the matchsticks into the plate along the lines to form the letter. They can say the phoneme as they do. A super way to support fine motor skills.
2. Cut up some letters out of sandpaper and stick them onto card. Your child uses their finger to trace the letter and say the phoneme as they do. A great sensory motor activity.
3. Put tap lights (mine were 2 for £1) under a word. Your child uses the lights like sound buttons. They turn the light on as they segment the word and blend the sounds together at the end. Adapt the words for phase.
4. Put light switches under a word (these were £1 each). These act as sound buttons. Your child turns the light switches on as they ‘sound out’ the word. They blend the word together at the end. Adapt the word cards for phase.
5. Help with the painting and decorating? Using a light coloured crayon write some words onto paper. Your child paints over the paper with watercolours to reveal the words.
6. Nuts, Bolts, Locks and Keys – an additional activity and a great way to develop fine motor skills.
Lots of activities on this tray to support phonic knowledge and all with a garden theme.
The activities include:
1. I made some flowers using a bit of patterned paper and I attached them to a green colouring pencil with masking tape. I then wrote some graphemes on the flowers. Your child uses the flowers to build words into the flower pots.
2. Have two flower pots one with ‘real’ written on and one with ‘non’ written. Have real or non words written on some flower labels (I cut some out of card) and your child sorts out the words.
3. Write questions on the plant labels and your child reads the questions and sorts them into the yes or no pot depending on the answer.
4. Stick or write some graphemes onto flower pots and your child uses the pots to build words.
5. Form letters using stones or clear pebbles (I got these pebbles from B&M for £1.50 a pot).
6. I stuck a flower shape to a few pegs. Your child reads the words on the card and counts the phonemes. They then stick that number of pegs onto the card, for example the word ‘root’ would need 3 flower pegs.
7. Write words and letters in the ‘mud’ (I emptied out a few tea bags for this mud). They could use a pencil flower from the above activity or the end of an artificial flower to write the letters and words. I also reused some mushroom pebbles that I made as part of the ‘Phonics Fairy’ activity to display some key words to write.
8. You could also have a ‘High Frequency Tree’ displayed as part of this activity for children to read the words or write them in the ‘mud’.
Images © Phonics Family 2020