Quick and Easy Reading Puzzles

reading puzzles

Creating activities for your child at home or students at school shouldn’t take you all night. Whether you are a teacher or a parent ( or both ) you are busy. Creating fun holiday themed activities can wipe you out. These simple 5 minute reading puzzles can be done with ANY theme. You can find foam cut outs in pretty much any shape ( right now there are 3 different holiday ones available at the dollar store ) and together with stickers you can make a fun activity for free choice, literacy centers, or as a before lunch activity for a day when we didn’t have school.  I like using stickers because drawing is not a talent I posses and I want my daughter to focus on the word not sit there trying to decide if Mommy drew a cat or a pig. If you can draw grab a sharpie and go for it!

Gather your materials. You will need some foam shapes, we are using hearts because someone is getting very excited about Valentine’s Day, some stickers of things like animals, household items etc… and more stickers with lowercase letters. If you are going to focus only on the beginning sound  ( matching bear to B ) you could use uppercase but now that my daughter has been asking about spelling and sounding words out I have shifted to all lowercase as much as possible. Different teachers ( and districts) will teach letters in different sequences but I have never had a hard time teaching letters in tandem. In my 2 & 3 year old classroom I point out both naturally like when they see their name we take time to mention that their name has one uppercase letter and the rest are lowercase. I use both when playing games and already I have students who easily recognize both as different forms of the same letter. reading puzzles

Stick the object sticker on one sidequick & easy reading puzzles

The word on the other. easy reading puzzles

Cut. I cut each heart differently so that these simple puzzles are self correcting. If the heart doesn’t come together the child knows to keep trying.

easy reading puzzles for kidsI set them up so that the items were out and she had a pile of the words. I did this on purpose. I wanted her to read the word, then find the item. I didn’t want her to see the bear and then scan for a word that started with b. Can you see the difference? How you set it up will depend on what your goals are. My daughter has made the big leap from sounding out CVC words like cat, mop, and fan to much longer words with more syllables and complicated phonetic rules like r controlled vowels. This game lets her do that without the pressure of an adult over her shoulder but with the self correcting feature built in she can get back on track herself if she makes a mistake. reading puz

Put the puzzles together! easy reading puzzles for children

She had no trouble starting with sounding the words out then finding the match. Some of the words were challenging but she’d sound it out initially then look at what other half might make sense. This is NOT cheating this is a perfect example of how children can and should use illustrations in text as a scaffold.

easy reading puzzles for literacy centers

All these strategies in a quick and easy to put together activity.

8 Easy Phonics Activities

phonics for kidsPhonics 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.

phonics activity for kids

Flip Top Phonics

letter sounds
Unlock The Letter Sound

phonics game for kids
Letter Sound Pound!

rhyming spin
Spin & Rhyme

letter sounds hands on activity
Letter Sound Matching

letter sounds
Outside Letter Sounds

letter sound matching game with princesses
Princess Phonics Game

word building with letter magnets
Building Words with Magnets

Phonics Game for Kids Who LOVE Princesses

phonics game for kids princess toys 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. phonics game princess letter sounds

I wrote out the first letter of each Princess ( or prince) on the paper.

princess letter sounds activity for kids

All ready for matching!

letter sound activity for kids who love princesses

She played as she matched up. Belle and The Beast were very happy to see that their letters were so close together.

princess letter sounds match up

The second time around there was some debate about Aurora or Sleeping Beauty? Use these sort of questions to say ” If she is Aurora what letter sound would she make? What about Sleeping Beauty?”letter sound matching game with princesses

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.princess letter matching

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 letter sounds matching game

 

Princess Books For Kids

All our book lists include affiliate links.

TenBigToesandaPrincesNose

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.

Paper_Bag_Princess

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 !

NotAllPrincessDressInPink

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
Permanent Marker

 

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

 

Phonics Game For Kids – Pound The Sound

letter sounds activity

 

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.pound the sound letter game for kids

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.pound the sound letter learning activity

Cut the tape to fit on top of the blocks and pop them on.pound the letter sound activity for kids

Pop the animals in the bag and you are ready to call your little one over.phonics game for kids

Pull an animal out of the bag, say what it is and then find the letter than matches the first sound.pound the sound phonics activity for preschool

Find the letter that makes that sound and pound it down!pound the sound letter game for preschool

Keep going!hammer the sound letter game for kids

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.