You’ll just need a few supplies from around the house to do this fun phonics activity!
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Is your child ready to sound out words? Teaching kids to “sound it out” is tricky. I like to do a lot of playful decoding activities with my preschoolers before taking on the more serious work of decoding words in books.
Here’s a hands-on way to introduce your child to sounding out words. It’s an adaptation of one of many brilliant learning activities in the new book, 100 Fun & Easy Learning Games for Kids.
To begin, gather your supplies. You will need:
- at least three cans from your pantry
- construction paper cut into strips (mine were 9 1/2 x 4 inches)
- a marker
- a list of CVC words for reference, if desired
If you do the activity as we did, you’ll use just three cans and three strips of paper. Write four different letters on each of the three strips.
- On one strip, write letters we often see at the beginning of 3-letter words, such as c, b, d, f, h, m, n, t, or p.
- On the next strip, write vowels. I chose to use a, e, o, and i.
- On the last strip, write letters commonly found at the end of 3-letter words, such as b, d, m, t, p, g, or n.
Tape each strip around a can, and you’re ready to play!
My Four knows his letters and most of his sounds, has a good understanding of concepts of print, and is starting to recognize sight words.
He is also learning to play with sounds in words. In fact, just the other day he had brought me a piece of paper on which he had written cat and mat. “Look, Mom, M— (his brother) showed me how to spell cat, and I spelled mat!”
I knew he was ready for a playful introduction to sounding out words.
To begin, I showed him that I could stack the cans to make a word.
“See? Let’s start at the top and say the sounds. /h/ /a/ /t/. /h/ /aaaaaa/ /t/. What word did we make?”
“Can you turn the top can to make the word pat?”
“Now turn the top can to make cat!”
After working with short a words, I decided we’d move on to short o words. Next to short a, I’ve found that the short o sound is easiest for kids to remember of all the short vowels.
This time, I tried something different. I created words, helped my Four sound them out, and asked him to tell me whether or not they were real words.
Full disclosure here: this wasn’t easy for him. And it never is, the first time. The trick is to help kids drag out the sounds that can be sustained.
“Let’s say these sounds!”
“I don’t want to.”
“I’ll help you! Look. What sound does h make?
“What sound does o make?”
“O says /o/. Ahhhhhhhhh. And what sound does n make?”
“You got it! Let’s say the sounds. /h/, ahhhhhhh, nnnnnnnnnn. Hon. Does that sound like a word?”
By turning around the last can, we were able to make and read a real word: hot.
We played around with other vowels and consonants and created at least fifteen words before he’d had enough.
I can’t wait to try some of the other hands-on learning activities in 100 Fun & Easy Learning Games for Kids. This book, from the brilliant duo at The Educators’ Spin on it, is packed with 100 simple learning games for kids ages 3-7. It would make a fabulous gift for parents, teachers, grandparents, and caregivers!