I am excited about this post as we have really enjoyed these activities in the lead up to Easter and I can see us continuing playing them long after Easter has finished. The games focus on identifying long vowel sounds and blending letter sounds to make a word. A friend recently asked me for ideas on how to blend (read) and segment (write) letter sounds to make words especially four letter words. The most common issue for children is trying to remember how many sounds are in a word and then saying them in the correct order. Most of us need to have some visual clues when we are learning something and physical reminders are also useful in addition to just listening. One example is if you have asked for directions and you are told the way to go then you may or may not reach your destination. If you are given a map of the route then that will give you a higher chance of reaching your destination, then if you add some physical reminders to that map like landmarks then you have an even higher chance of reaching your destination. Learning is the same for children they need to see, hear and do as they learn and it will give them a much higher chance of remembering. So when helping children to segment sounds think of these three things. Do they have a visual clue, a physical clue as well as hearing it. My top tips for doing this are: 1) Tell them if it is a 3 or 4 letter word and ask children to hold up that number of fingers. 2) Say the word to your child. 3) As they say the sounds in the word tap one finger for each sound. They will easily notice if they have missed out a sound because they haven’t tapped every finger. 4) When they have finished say the sounds again together and the whole word. This method is useful if your child is having a go at writing a word and they ask you what sounds they need. So back to the Easter activities!
Game 1: Egg hunt You will need: Plastic eggs that break in half, a container to collect eggs in, paper and pens. (I got my eggs and baskets from the pound shop)
Write a selection of sounds onto the paper, fold up and place inside the eggs. I focussed on the long vowel sounds as there are a few that Isabel still needs to practise. (If you are unsure which sounds then ask your child’s class teacher for a list of sounds your child is currently working on.) Once the eggs are ready then hide around the house or garden, then let your child find the eggs and place in their buckets. Once all the eggs have been found have a look inside and see what sounds you have found. Encourage your child to say the sound correctly. This game kept Isabel and Megan occupied for over 50 minutes the first time we played it. They were taking it in turns to hide the eggs and find them. They would both open the eggs and Isabel would read the sounds. I did have one egg with a chick in it, so they were both trying to find who would get the chick each time. We have played it every day since and Isabel definitely knows every sound in the eggs now!
Game 2: Making Easter Nests You will need: Chocolate, Shredded wheat/Krispies, mini eggs, a sugar writing icing pen (these can be bought from any larger stockist of baking goods, I got mine from Amazon). Make the Easter nests as normal by melting the chocolate and stirring in the shredded wheat. Then spoon into cake cases. While the children are spooning the mixture into the cake cases you are able to write on the mini eggs. I chose to write words using the ‘oa’ sound as this is the one that Isabel needed to practise. Once I had written the words out (one sound per egg) I gave Isabel the eggs mixed up. I then gave her a word for each cake and she had to find the correct letters and put them in the cake. Isabel loved this and enjoyed making the words. When the cakes were ready to eat she then told everyone which cake they were allowed, she read each word and handed out the cakes. This game was great for writing and reading practise. Megan had an egg with a ‘m’ written on it to help her start to notice the first letter in her name.
Game 3: Sound Buttons You will need: Paper, pen and Easter stickers (I got mine from the pound shop.) Write down a selection of 3 and 4 letter words on a piece of paper as a reminder for you. On a larger piece of paper write one of the words down in large print. Ask your child to put an Easter sticker underneath each sound and then count how many sounds are in the word. Most schools will call this adding sound buttons and so your child may understand this terminology. Isabel loved doing this and we did a whole page of words, she wanted to do more so she did a few while I was giving Charlie his milk and Megan could feel involved as she was able to make an Easter sticker picture.
Game 4: Building words You will need plastic eggs, a blob of play dough and a dry wipe pen. Children love constructing and building. We had a go at seeing how high we could build the eggs by sticking them together with the play dough. This was an activity I saw on pintrest but as we did it I thought it would be good to use to build up words. I decided to focus on words that have 3 letter sounds in them, but then can be changed by adding a 4th letter e.g. ‘ten’ becomes ‘tent’, ‘men’ becomes ‘mend’. This is really to emphasise that it is important to use every letter in the word or you could be writing/saying a different word. I wrote the letters on the eggs, then asked Isabel to build the 3 letter word first. Then once she had done this successfully change it to make the second word. Initially she took the 3 letter word apart and made the 4 letter word from scratch until I showed her she just had to add the extra sound onto the end. She was fascinated that we could change the word so easily and wanted to know how many more words did the same. I must confess it was hard to think up the words on the spot so I definitely suggest writing yourself a list before you start.
I hope you enjoy these activities. Happy Easter everyone 🙂