Phonics is the fancy name for relationship between the written letter and the sound or sounds it represents. Pretty important for learning to read. English is not a common sense language but giving children a good base knowledge of letter sounds we can help them build strong foundations for decoding words while reading. Most of these activities are focused on the first consonant sound in the words ( called the onset) because that is the stage my children were/are at when I did the activities with them. Some like the Spin & Rhyme and Building Words with Magnets focus on other parts of the words as well. For more rhyming activities check out this list of 8 fun rhyming activities.
I am glad I read the book Cinderella Ate by Daughter before my own daughter was “eaten” herself. My daughter loved princesses and tutus… and bulldozers too. My point is that instead of fighting these obsessions we can use them for a greater good, like learning! This is a quick phonics game that only took 5 minutes to set up ( 4 of which was me trying to find Jasmine in my daughter’s bedroom) and she played it 3 times in a row. All I had to do was set it up and say ” I made you a game, and it’s got princesses!”
Here is how we did it.
Gather your materials. I grabbed all her Little People princesses, a sheet of card stock, a marker, a clip board, and a tray for the princesses. I set this up in our sun room right where we have to pop on shoes before leaving for preschool because that’s been a challenge for us lately. I decided to lure her to where I wanted her to be without a struggle. This did the trick.
I wrote out the first letter of each Princess ( or prince) on the paper.
All ready for matching!
She played as she matched up. Belle and The Beast were very happy to see that their letters were so close together.
The other issue that popped up was that my daughter is starting to break words down and she wanted to match up the 2nd, 3rd, and last sounds she heard in the names. This derails the activity m but in a completely awesome way. Stop and chat about all the sounds if they do this. When children start noticing things like this jump on it but only when they are ready. With my daughter we talked about how she could hear a r in Aurora, and d sound in Aladdin. Listen carefully and even if it’s not completely in line with the lesson follow their lead.
And make sure that you set this out with plenty of time to play before preschool… we were a little later than usual that day. I had no idea she’d play so many times.
Princess Books For Kids
All our book lists include affiliate links.
Ten Big Toes and a Prince’s Nose by Nancy Gow is a story about two very different fairytale characters. They may be a prince and a princess but they are definitely different . I love the book’s rhyme ” I am what I am and that’s alright with me.” which is such a fantastic message to self acceptance and before confidence can be built we must accept who and what we are . The love story is pretty cute too, it is a fairytale after all.
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch has enchanted me for years. I bought it while volunteering as a leader in training at a day camp when I was a teen. It’s followed me to many schools, children I babysat and finally my own son. I can’t remember one child ever not liking it. It’s a story of Elizabeth a princess who outwits a dragon to rescue her prince. I love that the author has switched the typical damsel in distress and has the princess as the heroine. Some parents have expressed concern about Elizabeth calling the prince a “Bum” in the end of the book, personally I love it. I have always used it to explain why she was so angry, and as a reminder why calling names hurt. That said I think she is totally justified !
Not All Princesses Dress in Pink by Jane Yolen .This book is not so much about being different and facing adversity but about being yourself even if the world has decided you should fit perfectly into the mold it’s given you. When we think of Princesses we think pink, sparkly and dry clean only! These princesses can’t be pigeonholed, they do what’s in their heart not what’s expected of them just because they are princesses. The princesses have all different interests, all different looks and I love that there are some with glasses too. Strong girls being themselves isn’t too different but for a book about princesses it is and it’s refreshing to read.
Quick Supply Links
This supply list contains quick affiliate links to items used in the post.
Fisher-Price Little People Disney Princess
Fisher-Price Little People Disney’s Aladdin and Jasmine
Fisher-Price Little People Disney 2 Pack: Belle and Beast
Solid Wood Tray ( part of a wooden food set)
Array Card Stock
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is a simple game that asks children to identify the initial sound of a toy animal then pound the letter that makes that sound on the toy tool bench. What makes this game so interesting for kids is the inclusion of toys that they love. This tool bench has been in our playroom for seven years but my daughter has just recently fallen back in love with it so I knew it was time to use it for a little learning. Coupled with her animals toys this phonics game is anything but boring.
Gather your materials. You will need a hammering toy ( or you could make one with golf tees like we did here) , some painter’s tape and marker or labels, some small toys and a bag or box to pull them out of.
Start by writing the letters out on the tape. I had no labels so I just used tape. Don’t worry about things looking pinterest perfect the goal is for your child to learn while having fun not a magazine perfect set up. Also I am using lowercase letters because by this stage of learning to read lowercase is much more important. She will be encountering lowercase while reading much more frequently than uppercase.
This is such a simple game and after we played my daughter went hunting for more things that started with the letters on the tool bench and we played again.
I have a huge stash of these lids even though we use very few wipes these days. I can not bring myself to throw them out so instead I made a phonics game for my daughter. It’s so simple but really helps reinforce the work she is doing with her initial letter sounds. It took five minutes to make and I have some tips to make it re-usable too. I had a brain wave after I finished it but luckily I can still share it with you. For more phonics ideas check out more of our letter sound activities here.
Start by making your base sturdy so that when you open the lids the base ( in our case cardboard and paper ) doesn’t rip. I just stapled the paper and cardboard together but if you want to make this reusable you can pop the cardboard and paper in a page protector sleeve and then staple them all together.
Add the stickers. I didn’t even bother trying to cover the brand name. Kids won’t care and I have played this with 3 different kids at different times and no one mentioned it once. I know we as adults love pretty things but if time is short do not worry, the kids don’t care and will still learn the same things.
Write the letter that makes the initial sound under the lid. If you are using dry erase you can easily wipe and change it to ending sound or full spelling for older kids. I really wish I made mine like that to begin with. I will be modifying ours shortly.
My daughter loved this and only got one wrong. She thought the rooster was a chicken. I loved that she can do it without me directing it 100%. I found her later playing school with the board and her dollies. I like that you could switch out the theme with different stickers depending on what your child is into or what your class is learning about.