Word Building With Letter Magnets & Word Families

word family activity with letter magnets As children get a firm grasp on letter sounds they will be able to manipulate those sounds to create new ones.  My daughter has been playing with letter sounds for a while ( I think she is desperate to catch up to her big brother) and rhyming is one of her favorite things to do. All of her time rhyming has definitely helped her be able to isolate and substitute sounds and I wondered if she was ready for some word families. She was. I chose the word families that we used in this activity ( all, ap, at, it ) because she can sound them out without help. I wanted her to be able to build the words without me, because you are using masking tape you can easily switch up the word families as your child develops.

 

Gather your materials. You will need some masking tape, some letter magnets ( try to find ones that are fully magnetic instead of having little magnets glued on the back to be safe) , a cookie sheet, and a marker. The older brother overseeing the activity is completely optional. word building word families with magnets supplies

 

Add a few strips of masking tape on your cookie sheet.Write the word families you want to work on with your child. You can do a few or stick to just one. Here is a list of the 37 most common word families. word building with magnets

Take a few moments to have your child sound out the word families for you to make sure that this activity will be challenging but not impossible. When we give children challenges they grow but if we give them impossible tasks we end up discouraging them and sending them the message that learning is too hard for them. word building with magnets

 

Add a bunch of letter magnets ( I had 3 packs available) and help your child do the first modeling sounding out the word family and then adding the first sound and sounding out the word again.  Then let them at it.word building with word families

She started adding the magnets then sounding them out with her brother overseeing under strict instructions “To let her do it herself.” Sometimes she’d add one that didn’t make sense, he’d shake his head ,  and she’d just remove it and try with another letter. After a few letters he declared he wasn’t needed and left. I left words that she sounded out but might not know the definition of like pall. Even though should couldn’t tell me what a pall was she was sounding out the words correctly so I decided to leave it be. When kids are a little older I would ask is that a real word? Then ask them to look it up to find out.word building with letter magnets

I am so happy I caught this picture. After she made a word it was so amazing to her she turned to me saying ” Mama I did it again!” as if the other times were just flukes. I LOVE moments like this when kids take ownership of their abilities. She KNEW she could do it at that moment and continued to build the rest of the words.word building learning is fun

We will do this again soon with a few of these word families and mix in one or two new ones. Remember kids love repetition, it feels good to know what to expect and it gives them a chance to master something.word building with magnets and cookie sheets

 

Recycled Robot Craft inspired by The Ricky Ricotta Books by Dav Pilkey

robot craft for kids I love books.  More than my love of books is my love of getting KIDS to love books, especially my own kid. Before I share how we made this super rad robot inspired by Dav Pilkey’s Ricky Ricotta Mighty Robot series of books, I need to tell you that this post was sponsored by Scholastic.  I am so glad that the publisher sent me these books because my son loved them. LOVED. So much that we decided to make a shiny recycled robot craft that reminded us of the shiny full color pages of these awesome books. The whole book is beautiful and I really think those silky full color pages made reading the book even more enjoyable for my son.

Gather your materials. You will need some recycled materials. I save anything that looks interesting so I had some ribbon spools, plastic lids, card board, crusher lids, etc… you will also need metallic paint, a hot glue gun, and something to protect the surfaces you are working on.

ricky ricotta mighty robot supplies

Start by spray painting some of the recycled materials. When you read the books you will see that the Robot is really shiny so my son and I decided we needed to get really shiny silver paint. You might want gloves for this too. My nails are still silver.ricky ricotta silver robot

When dry gather all your pieces and plug in the hot glue gun ( ours is a low temp one) robotricky ricottaand let your robot builder go nuts!robot craft

He has inherited my love ( need?) of symmetry. At one point he was asking me where I think he should put something and when I suggested something asymmetrical he responded with ” Um I don’t think so, that would wreck the symmetry! ” OK then.

I think the robot turned out to be pretty awesome, well worth the days and days of silver spray painted hands ( seriously use gloves!)

robotoooo

 

About The Books!

RickySeries

Ricky Ricotta Series by Dav Pilkey illustrated by Dan Santat

These early chapter books are about a little mouse Ricky who is not the most popular mouse. He gets picked on at school until he ends up saving Robot’s life and the two of them become best friends! You’d think that with a giant robot as a best buddy a little mouse might let it go to his head. Ricky is a good mouse through and through and as the series continues he and Robot continue to save Squeakyville from all sorts of evil.

When my son and I snuggled up in bed to read the first book I did most of the reading. The books themselves are below my son’s reading level ( The series is listed as DRA 20 )  but reading levels are not the only things parents need to consider. Do you always read at your maximum reading ability? I can guarantee that I do not. Reading for pleasure isn’t always challenging. We flew through the first book and he begged me to read the next. I read it then left him the other two books and told him he could stay up as long as he was reading. Less than half an hour later he came downstairs to ask me if we had the 5th book! He’d read the other two books immediately. My son is a great reader but he doesn’t LOVE reading fiction, so his desire to read more more more was huge. I was THRILLED.dav pilkey bo

When I asked him what he loved about these books he said the illustrations by Dan Santat were amazing, the cool features like comics and flip book in the middle , and how quick they were for him to read. Patience is not something most 7 year old boys have in spades so I get that. The illustrations really are awesome but I want to let you know that the whole book is full color. The book is really beautiful , seriously every page feels special. I have already been telling friends in real life about how these are great early chapter books for reluctant ( and not reluctant) readers and I am thrilled to share it here too.

Visit the Ricky Ricotta Official Site
Learn more about author Dav Pilkey
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As stated above this post was sponsored by Scholastic.

 

 

Rhyming Dominoes and Speedracer Game – Learning After School

rhyming game for kindergarten The school year has started and that means that some of our longer activities get shortened into smaller bite sized pieces of hands on learning that won’t compete with homework or my son’s need to just chill out after a long day at school.  Our whole Learning After School series is all about how to have fun with learning without stressing our school age kids. My son gets out of school early once a week so that is usually when we do one of these types of activities. I want to support his learning, work on any areas he might need a little work on but more than anything I want to have fun with him. This rhyming activity is simple but so adaptable. For my son I noticed that he was starting to confuse rhyming and word families. They are similar yes but rhyming is all about sound, spelling doesn’t come into it. This game helped him remember that. For children not yet reading you can skip the words and use clip art pictures instead.

 

Gather your materials. You will need some card stock ( I used sentence strips from the dollar store), a permanent marker,  and scissors. If you want to get all fancy you can use a ruler so the lines are exactly in the middle of each card too.  It’s also helpful to come up with a list of rhyming words to have on hand. rhyming bingo

Start by cutting your sentence strips in half.

 

Draw a line down the middle. rhyming bingo game for kids

Write two words on the card that do not rhyme with each other. Make sure you have used all your rhyming words at least once.  I was specifically trying to find words that rhyme but are not spelled using the same spelling patterns like bear and care. Choose words that fit YOUR child. rhyming game for kindergarten

Play!

rhyming game for preschool and kindergarten

Dominoes – For our version of Rhyming Dominoes we split the deck into 2 and hand each player half. The younger player puts the first card down and the other player sees if they can put down a rhyming match. If not the other player goes. The first player with no cards left wins.  Simple and quick enough to keep moving so players are engaged. rhyming dominoes and speedracer game for kids

Speedracer.

rhyming dominoes and rhyming match game

My son LOVES this game. It’s simple and always seems to end up in major trash talk ( in the nicest way) , which means my 7 year old loves it. The rules are easy. You lay two cards down to start and leave the pile as one. You flip the cards and if it rhymes with your card you grab it and add it to your line. If the card has a rhyme that works for both players it’s whoever gets to it first. The only thing you need to watch out for is that when you choose the first two cards that they don’t rhyme. If they do you could end up with a stale mate. rhyming game for first grade

First person to the end of the table ( or any line you make) wins. speedracer rhyming game

 

Books That Rhyme

 

Another fun way to work on rhyming is to read great read alouds that rhyme. Here are some of our favorite books to read together that rhyme. For the full list of 25 Books That Rhyme Click here. All our book lists include affiliate links.

 

Granny Went To Market

Granny Went to Market by Stella Blackstone is a book I got to know very well when writing lessons for Itty Bitty Bookworm preschool curriculum using it. This a a really fantastic book that is filled with language arts, geography and math lessons. Granny is a traveler and everywhere she goes she picks up a number of souvenirs. Not only are a number of countries like Switzerland, Mexico and Peru visited, but the souvenirs she buys relate to the country’s culture and offer even more learning opportunities for interested kids.  The rhyming text will enchant even the youngest world traveler , this is a must for any jet setting family!

My trucks is stuck

My Truck is Stuck! by Kevin Lewis is a fun book full of great rhymes and funny illustrations from Daniel Kirk. The story is simple a truck is stuck and even though other vehicles come to help, nothing budges until a tow truck arrives. The best part is the cargo of bones in the truck are slowly stolen by hungry gophers while the others work to free the truck. It’s got a great message about helping people and the illustrations make me giggle, especially the guy in the moving van who is blowing bubbles. I have never understood that but it makes me laugh.

Flashing Fire Engines

Flashing Fire Engines by Tony Mitton is a favorite at our house. The book is a rhyming masterpiece, somehow keeping up the rhyming pace as it explains how firefighters fight fires and rescue people! Details like what gear they wear, and how hoses and hydrants work are included as well as ladders and sirens. My son loves this book and as an adult who has  read it hundreds of times it’s fun to read,  even over and over again . We also love all the other books in the series like Cool Cars   and Terrific Trains   it’s completely worth checking out anything they do!

 

 

 

 

Twig & Bead Fairy Wands

twig and bead fairy wand craft for kidsI love exploring in the woods and while my children enjoy it they take it for granted. I love finding new ways to get them exploring their own environment and finding creative ways to use what we have in our yard. These twig and bead fairy wands were so much fun to make. We brought some of our favorite art supplies down to create with twigs. My daughter was all over this idea and I think this was the longest she’d ever beaded anything without asking me to take over. Beading is a fantastic fine motor activity and beyond that it often leads naturally to counting so you can slip some math in there too.  We also had a friend over who is 11 and she used the same materials to make her own funky twig and bead fairy wand.

Gather your materials. You will need some twigs, pony beads, yarn or cord, markers and scissors. bead fairy wands supplies

Before sitting down to create explore and find some twigs. I had found some that would work before inviting the girls to create in case they gathered the wrong size. twig hunting fiary wand tutorial

Break off any of the little bits and bobs on the twig and color it if you want to. I loved how much concentration this required. We used smelly markers because you can’t really see the color on the twig but the scent stayed and made it extra special. twig and bead fairy wand craft for preschool

Bead! Most twigs will naturally get wider at the base but if they don’t you can put a little dollop of hit glue to create a wider base. I just love how many great skills she is using by doing this fun activity. Her fine motor skills got a great work out!beading with twigs and beads

Wow look at all those beads! This is when you will want to casually say ” How many beads do you think are on there?” If you are trying to sneak in even more counting ask about specific colors too. ” How many green ones?” twig and bead fairy wand fine motor craft for kids

While my daughter was beading our 11 year old friend was beading on to the cord and then wrapping it around the twig and securing it with some tape. bead and fairy wands for older kids too

When my daughter was all done beading we attached some string to a bead and tied a knot.fairy wand tutorial Then beaded it on to the twig. fairy wand tutorial for kids

Next we wrapped the cord around the twig and make a handle. When it was all wrapped we tied it a few times and trimmed. magic wand tutorial

Now it’s ready for some serious fairy spells! magic wand tutorial for kids

You can see the rad wand our dear friend made too !beaded fairy wands for kids

Books About Fairies

All our book lists include affiliate links.

 

princess books for girls

The Very Fairy Princess by Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton is a cute book about a little girl who loves all things princess related. What I like about this book is that it’s message isn’t heavy handed and it celebrates princesses while sneaking in some very positive messages too. In a world where many parents ( me included) have issues with this whole princess thing and struggle to find that balance this book has it. It tells you it’s OK to want to be a princess and to “let your sparkle out!” and talks about confidence in the process. I must admit though I am a total Julie Andrews fan and I am not sure I’d ever dislike anything Maria , I mean Mary Poppins I mean Julie Andrews wrote.

Alice the fairy

Alice The Fairy is such a sweet book about a fairy who is still learning the ropes. I love the spells she casts and kids relate to her type of magic, I promise! I love that this book is about a fairy but not the Disney idea that we are so often bombarded with. It’s fresh, fun and my daughter absolutely loves it. I have been in love with this book for many years and to see my daughter connect with Alice so well just tickles me to pieces.

princess in the forest

Princess in the Forest by Sibylle Von Olfers is more than 100 years old yet my toddler absolutely loved this book. The story is amazingly simple and the illustrations are what a fairytale should look like. The princess is met at different times of the day by various magical fairy children and forest creatures who care for and play with her. My daughter loves babies and the Dew Children who come to help the princess get dressed , the Moss Children who bring her food and the Star Children who illuminate her night enchanted her. She would immediately turn to each page with these angelic creatures and touch each one with her little fingers. This book doesn’t have a strong moral message but it’s simplicity is so peaceful and calming that it makes a wonderful bedtime book for young kids.

 

 

 

 

Spelling Activity

spelling practice activity for kids Spelling is a hot topic at our house these days. My son loves to spell and now his sister has started requesting to sound out and spell simple words as well. One day when he had a day off school I put together this spelling activity for him giving him a challenge while working on his spelling. This activity cost me nothing but if you don’t have a dowel on hand you could use a pencil in a pinch! Have fun with spelling and your kids will think it’s fun too.

Gather your materials. You will need some empty ribbon spools a dowel and a sharpie to make the spinner and then paper and a pencil to write down the words that are created.spool spelling supplies

Start by writing letters on the spools. I tried to have a mix of vowels and consonants on each spread out then as I played with it I added more when I realized I was off by one letter to spell something. spool spelling activity for kindergartenPlay round with it because only then will you also see if you can spell any naughty words. I missed one and our lesson included a lesson in the power of words and when and where they are appropriate. I actually didn’t mind getting a chance to talk about this issue at home but if you are doing this with a class or a child that isn’t yours it’s best to make sure no naughty words can be made.spool spelling activity for kids

Pop them on the spool and write a prompt. Ours was simply how many words can you spell but then together my son and I came up with other challenges :

How many words can you spell?
How many verbs can you spell?
How many names can you spell?
How many foods can you spell?
How many Pokemon types can you spell?
How many numbers can you spell out?
How many adjectives can you spell?
How many country names can you spell?

The list could go on and on.

Have fun and spell! spool and spell

This was my real goal for the activity… writing. My son loves so many things but the physical act of writing is not one of them. Any time I can get him to write anything is a win for us. spool spelling game

He loved the spelling which made the writing a non issue. See how sneaky I am? He’s totally hip to my groove but if it’s fun enough he doesn’t resist. I want to keep it fun at home as much as possible because I know he works hard at school. spelling activity for kids spool Kids need downtime, they need time to rest their brains so even when they have something ( like writing) that needs work we can make it more fun and less work so they will never get anywhere near burning out especially at 7! For more activities like this for school age children check out our Learning After School series. fun spelling activity for kids