Getting started with Phonics

I thought it would be a good idea to post a blog showing the variety of ways that you can expose your child to the world of phonics without actually sitting down and saying we are learning phonics. Learning letter sounds and eventually learning to read and write starts from very simple basics mainly being able to listen and distinguishing different sounds, from taking turns in conversations listening and responding. Below are a few ideas that can be used easily with little or no resources. Most children are able to do them from around the age of 3, some children can do these activities before that and some children a little later. All children develop at different times so you can judge when to start playing the games, you will soon know if it is too soon as they won’t engage with the game. Once the games have been established they can quickly become favourites and can be enjoyed for a number of years.

The Listening Game

This game uses no resources other than the world around you. It can be played inside the house or outside, but I would recommend starting outside as you will get more material. It is as simple as listening to the environmental sounds around you and naming what you can hear. For example we went for a walk to the park, and I challenged Isabel to name all the sounds she could hear, I also added an element of competition to it and said let’s see who can hear the most sounds. We named things like children playing, adults talking, birds tweeting, cars and even the sound of water from the canal. It can be fun to close your eyes and listen as this can heighten the sense of hearing although small children find this very difficult. Once you get home if you wish to extend the activity you could draw a picture or make a collage or painting of the sounds you heard and talk through them again. The picture doesn’t have to represent objects accurately so long as your child can interpret what they have done for example the orange blob is children playing. Whenever we have attempted to make a pictorial representation of what we have heard all I see is a variety of blobs in different colours across the page, but Isabel can talk about her picture and remembers most of the sounds we heard on the walk.

Kim’s Game using sounds

Collect up to six different household items that make different sounds. Some examples are empty crisp packets, a set of keys, musical instrument, a bag of nuts being shaken etc. You will need two of every item. Firstly show one set to your child and show them the sound each one makes, encourage them to make the sound too. Once your child is familiar with them hide one set under a towel. Place the other set in front of your child. The adult can then discretely play one of the sounds under the towel, you may need to play the sound a couple of times before your child recognises it. Once they know what it is can they play the same sound back to you? If you both play the sounds together do they match? Then if you agree reveal the object and check that they are the same. We love this game in our house, and play it on a regular basis. Megan has even started to get involved and has a go at guessing the correct object to match the sound.


The storyteller

We all know that reading stories is very important and we should try to do at least once a day. However as with all things there are some days when there really just isn’t time to sit down quietly and share a book together. That’s when becoming a storyteller is great. All children have fantastic imaginations and if you listen to them playing they can come up with all sorts of great story lines. This activity utilises their imaginations and can be done anywhere at any time. The last time we played this game I was cooking dinner with a baby banging pots at my feet and the toddler wanting a cuddle. You start the story by saying ‘Once upon a time’ and then you can take it from there. The adult structures it and the child makes the decisions about time of day, weather, the characters, what happens, and the ending. Here is the beginning of the last story we made up (the words in bold are the ones that Isabel said). Once upon a time, one sunny morning, a little girl called Anna was having breakfast in the garden. Suddenly she saw Elsa running away from a cow. 

As you can tell she really likes Frozen (still!!!!) but our story was nothing like the original. If your child can’t think of anything then give them two options e.g is it morning or night? Is it a girl or a boy? The story can go anywhere and there are no right or wrong answers. This game is also great to play if you are going on a long journey or stuck in a traffic jam as it can pass the time quickly.

Hopefully you find these ideas helpful and enjoyable 🙂

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