Are you teaching phonics to kids? This milk cap letter activity is a great word building exercise!
Last week I shared a tutorial for how to make your own milk or bottle cap letters. Today I’ll show you how to use my printables for some hands-on phonics and spelling practice with the short a word families.
My kids attend our church’s parochial school, but I don’t think their teachers should get to have all the fun! So I work at teaching my kids to read when they show readiness signs – usually around age 4.
Currently I’m working with my Four (soon to be five). He can do some basic sounding out with word families, but it’s not automatic yet. We use very few worksheets — while they can be useful, I think that hands-on learning is best. And with my busy boy, it’s definitely preferred.
I created a series of milk cap printables because I was inspired by the bottle cap sets made by This Reading Mama. What a great hands-on way to practice word building, reading, and spelling! No drills or worksheets – that’s my kind of phonics.
Each page has two mats – you’ll have to print and cut apart.
If you print the pages front to back, this is what you will find on the back of each sheet. Your child can do the beginner side first (matching the letters), and then flip over and spell without the letters. Or do all the beginner mats first, and then do all the advanced ones.
Another way to play? Start with the advanced side. Then slide the letters off the mat and have your child flip it over to see if his spelling was correct!
We use milk cap letters, because we’re swimming in milk caps. But if 1-inch bottle caps are what you have, never fear – those printables are included too. You can see a sample above.
When I sat down to do these with my Four, I gave him just the “at” family mats (a set of eight). First, he did all the beginner cards — matching the letters. He sounded out each word as he worked.
Next, he flipped over all the cards and did all the advanced cards. He stretched out each word as he placed the letters. (b…aaaaa….t) Sometimes he wanted to place the letters out of order – but I encouraged him to put them down in the order that he heard the sounds.
Here’s a bonus challenge: Each word family set includes at least two words that begin with a digraph (ch, sh, th) or blend (fl, tr, sw, etc.). If those are too tough for your learner, leave them out for now.
I’ve made a lot of short a word family printables — and so far my Four seems to enjoy these the most. I can’t wait to try them again!
Get your printables below. Color isn’t necessary (but it’s sure pretty! :)). Remember to print front to back!
Get all of our milk cap spelling mats!
Get your free milk cap spelling mats!
You’ll love our word family mats and games!
Short Vowel Word Family Mats & Games
This is a set of 35 printable short vowel word family picture mats with corresponding word cards. The mats come in three different versions – full color with a border, color without a border, and black and white. Each mat also comes with a worksheet and two games.
Thank you so much.
Thank you for making all these free printables available. My autistic 5-year-old needs hands-on practice for learning to read. You have made my day so much easier. I can make a huge set of cards and just bring out a few at a time for daily practice. You are awesome!
I’m so glad to hear that, Kayla! I’m actually sharing the short u milk cap spelling mats tomorrow – all in one download ;).
Thank you so much for sharing. What a great idea!
Thank you for all you do! These look fabulous. To make my milk-cap-letters, I put my uppercase on red caps and lower case on other colors for easy sorting. If I ever have to remake these, I will print each on it’s own color and not worry about the cap color!
Your idea is great too, Angie – thanks for commenting!
this is an excellent form of ‘writing’ for my struggling learner whose pencil is an offensive tool! have you made other short vowel sound families? or am i missing a link somewhere? thank you for taking the time to share these.
I do plan to create these for the other short vowel word families, but they will probably not be posted until the new year. My posting schedule is pretty full right now! I do have other word family printables for short a and a couple for short i. Before December I do plan to share all the short vowel word family houses and read and stick mats. You can find what I’ve already shared here: https://www.themeasuredmom.com/teaching-resources/
Have a good day!
Hi! thanks so much for sharing this. I have a very small daycare in my home and am looking for center type activities for my 6 year old boy to work on in the afternoon (I only have about 1 hour of organized activity time w/ the kids) and I think this will be perfect for working on his sight words.
Do you have any suggestions on something I could use these bottle caps for for a 4 year old girl who doesn’t seem to have any interest in letters? She absolutely loves numbers but not so letters. Her mom is all worried that she doesn’t know her letters yet and can’t write them…. I’m not so worried but would like to maybe do some letter matching with her. Any thoughts?
I would start with some basic matching. You can draw or use a clip art of a car. Remove the wheels from the picture and have the little girl put matching letter caps on for the tires. I’d start with capital letters, as they are easier to recognize, with just a small set. If you keep it to just 3-5 different letters to begin, the activity will be something she can master. Another matching idea would be to just write some capital letters on a piece of paper and have her cover them with the matching milk caps. I hope this helps! Thanks so much for stopping by 🙂
Thanks = that was kind of what I was thinking although I hadn’t thought to use the tires. Good idea! I thought I’d ask Connor’s teacher for a list of sight words and we can work on the weekly words they are at school at daycare this way. =d
Thanks so much! Tina
I am a big fan of milk cap activities. I used the ‘sharpie’ marker to write the alphabets and successfully taught my 7 and 5 the word families numbers and so on. Hoping to teach my third child who is just 2 using your printable mats. They are awesome !! Thanks for sharing your hard work.
You’re very welcome, Fathima! Thanks so much for stopping by.
Love the format of this Activity. I think its clever and simple to do at home. Good job!
-Reshama @ StackingBooks.com
Thanks, Reshama 🙂
I wanted to let you know that I featured you on Mom’s Library this week!
Thanks so much for featuring me, Ashley!
thank you so much! my 2 1/2 yr old son has mastered the see and spell by Melissa & Doug so i’ve been looking for things to make for him to continue that sort of activity. i’ve already made bottle cap letters so these mats are such a blessing and time saver. thank you!
So glad you can use them, Melissa!
Thanks for linking this great post to Tuesday Tots. I’m featuring it this week on Learn with Play at home. 🙂
Thank you so much for the feature, Debs!!
Deb @ Living Montessori Now
These are fabulous, Anna! Thanks so much for all you share! I featured your post as the Free Printable of the Day at the Living Montessori Now Facebook page and on Pinterest.
Thank you SO much, Deb – this post needed a boost, and you’ve given me one 🙂
Thank you so much! These are wonderful!
You’re so welcome, Janet!
As always, fantastic printable! Thanks for this, Anna. Looking forward to your writing series with Becky!
Thanks, Caroline – we’re really psyched about the writing series!
I love this idea and I love these printables. You did a fantastic job on them. I need to start saving my milk caps! My daughter is only three so I have a bit of time before we’ll need them.
Thanks so much, Molly! I hope you come back to this when she’s ready for them!