Gross Motor Reading Game – Pizza Delivery

I didn’t know what to call this game because it uses so many skills . The player needs to recognize sizes , sound out words for the street names as well as recognize numbers for the house addresses. Also it incorporates gross motor and balance as they push the car along the streets. Of course I wouldn’t be posting an activity like this without making adaptations easy. The street names could be turned to letters  such as  A Street. B Street etc… and the houses could be colors instead of numbers!  My son who is almost 5 loves this game, we have played with with friends and alone over the past week. The best part is that new street names and house numbers can be added so easily!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a patch of floor, painter’s tape, some construction paper ( I used black, brown , orange and yellow), a glue stick, a marker , white paper and some sicssors. Oh and a toy car , my son wanted one with space to actually put the pizza in it so ours is huge. Use your favorite.
  2. Start by choosing the words you want to make into the street names.  The player will have to find the right address to deliver the pizza and will have to read all the streets they drive on. I chose to do all sm , sn and sp blends but any words will do. For us my son needed to work on sounding out so I chose words he wouldn’t be as apt to read by sight. Write them on white paper.
  3. Glue them on black construction paper and cut out.
  4. Next up make the houses. As you can see my goal is not perfection , it’s fun so as long as my son can tell it’s a house , I am happy. 
  5. Pop some numbers on the houses. Try to make some that are “easy” for your child, ones they will recognize immediately and some that are a challenge.
  6. Time for pizza. If your child is gaga for crafts have them make the pizza while you do the previous steps. We made 6 total – 2 large, 2 medium and 2 small.
  7. Don’t forget the pizzeria – ours is elaborate ;)
  8. Now create the road way with tape on your floor.
  9. Place the streets and houses with numbers on the roadway.
  10. Invite your player to come and deliver the pizzas! How to play:   Pretend to call the pizza place asking for any combo of the pizza sizes such as one large and two smalls.  Give them your address ( which of course is determined by the house on the street… so ours was #77 Smoke street ), then as they deliver the pizza they have to read the streets they use to get there.
  11. Keep going until all the pizzas are delivered!
  12. Switch up where each road is and move the houses around for the next round! This was such a hit we played for a long time.

Books About Pizza !

The Princess and the Pizza by Mary Jane and Herb Auch is really a cute re telling of the classic Princess and the Pea. They have modernized it and made it a little more feminist in the process, exactly my kind of book. The text is a little long for toddlers but my son sat through about half before wanting to go back and look at the illustration of the horse on the first page. The message is sweet, saying that a woman doesn’t need a man or marriage to attain her goals! Beware though it will make you crave pizza!

The Little Red Hen (Makes a Pizza) by Philomen Sturges is a great retelling of the classic story. Kids will be able to relate to this hen not getting any help for all her hard work. Luckily her friends realize their mistake and do the dishes after she shares her yummy pizza. Since originally recommending this book it’s made a move from the bookshelf to the dresser pile of books that are in rotation for before nap and bedtime reading. A sure sign it’s kid approved!

Pizza at Sally’s is another great look at a small business owner , and how she does her work everyday and feeds the masses with her yummy pizza! I like how it not only explains how to make pizza but it also looks at the ingredients and how they are grown and processed.  Of course it’s not explained in depth but it is explained enough to start a dialogue with interested preschoolers for further investigation.  My son loves the cat in this book, the same cat is in many of the other books but for some reason he particularly loves it’s presence in this one. It’s inspired me to make the dough from scratch with my son next time we have pizza!  A lovely book!

Halloween Word Search

word games for new readers

I can’t take full credit for this activity idea . Word searches in bottles of rice, popcorn kernels etc.. have been around for as long as I have been teaching and probably much much longer. I was reminded of the simple genius of these last night when searching Pinterest for sight word ideas for a reader who was looking for more activities for her son.  I pinned this activity onto my early literacy pinterest board but felt like I needed to make my own version using Halloween words.  Here is what we did.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some filler ( we used our Halloween Sensory tub filler ) like black beans , orange lentils and creepy toys!  You will also need some stiff paper ( we used paint chips but card stock will work too), a clip board, markers and a permanent marker. You will also need a large plastic jar, water bottles work too but you may want to take the larger spooky toys out of the mix.
  2. Write out the words your child is searching for I had my son help me think of Halloween words.
  3. Write them on the paint chips or card stock. I wrote some words out multiple times and some like Boo! only once. Just to make it successful but challenging.
  4. Cut and pop them in the jar with the filler.
  5. Search !
  6. Cross the words out when you find them.
  7. We challenged each other to find words. I like this game because it gets kids reading, searching and can be adapted to any level. For younger kids use plain letters, older ones cut the letters of the words out and have them search and spell!

My Favorite Halloween Book For Little Ones

Ghosts in the House! by Kazuno Kohara is on my must buy list! A little girl moves into house and soon finds out it is haunted. Luckily she is a witch and knows just what to do. The ghosts in the story seem mischievous but never scary and even when she washes them in the washing machine, they are still smiling! My son loved this book, the text was the perfect length for a 3 year old, short but still descriptive.  I loved the simple  black and orange colors and had to look at the copyright twice because I was certain this was written sometime in the 30s, nope 2008. The simplicity of the book and colors is balanced so well with the little details like the litt;e girl’s constant companion , a white cat that puts on a black costume when the little witch pops on her hat. This detail had my son in stitches, “Cats don’t wear clothes , silly cat!” .  Absolutely a perfect Halloween book for children not yet ready to be scared for fun!

Rhyming Tree – Word Game

My son is all about games and challenges and this rhyming tree was just the right amount of learning ( and fun) after a long day at preschool.  Whether you homeschool or just add little bits of learning into a day full of errands and play remember that lessons don’t have to be long, they just need to be targeted. This morning as I nursed my daughter my son and I played with rhymes so when he got home I had this tree prepped for him to revisit the rhymes and some new ones too.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some sticky back foam( I used up lots of scrap pieces finally), construction paper ( I also used part of a paper bag… I love reusing things), markers , scissor and a glue stick.
  2. Start by drawing a tree without leaves.
  3. Write one word on each branch.
  4. Cut out and glue on the construction paper.
  5. Write rhyming words on the foam and cut out in the shape of leaves.
  6. Glue the tree on the paper.
  7. Add one rhyming fool . Peel and stick the words onto the rhyming branches. This isn’t a quiet time activity because I added some words to spark discussion like pair and pear as well as said which he recognizes in books but I suspected ( correctly) that out of context he doesn’t recognize. So even a little lesson( or game as my son calls it) like this can let me talk about homonyms and check on his sight words stress free.
  8. He loved it and laughed hysterically at me when I asked if I could add one becuase I was SURE that chair and bee rhymed. Another reason to stay and play… giggles! When we were done he counted up all the words on each branch to see which branch won. Yay a little math too !

The best part about learning to read are these games and play that becomes possible so don’t forget to make words a game…even if there is a lesson or two hidden inside.

Read & Find Game

If an I-Spy book and a sensory bin had a baby this is what they would wake up at 2am to feed. My son’s interests are geared mostly to games and pretend play these days and while most of our time is spent doing funny accents I like doing these  fun games that work on a bunch of skills in a short amount of time. This works on handwriting , reading and observation skills.

  1. Gather your materials. You can use almost anything , easy right? You need toys, and other small objects that your child can read but that aren’t too easy or it’s not going to be a 5 minute sparkler , it will be done in 30 seconds. So go around your house and trust me you’ll find things pretty fast. If your child is not a reader use colors or just the first letter. You will also need a bin, marker, sheet of card stock , and a crayon.
  2. Write out the words of all the objects on the card stock with marker.
  3. Pop the toys in the bin, hand your child the list. Stick around so if words are tricky you can help them try different strategies like using the objects for clues, sounding out the word or passing on to the next to return to it after.

Rhyming Jars

Rhyming Jars - early literacy lesson

Rhyming is an important component to learning to read, specifically phonological awareness ( or the knowledge of sounds letters in words make) and it’s also really fun! This game is designed to work with word families , working on reading ( decoding unfamiliar words) and rhyming. For children not yet at this level of learning to read this game can be adapted using pictures. That way they can still group and sort by rhyme without the frustration of trying to decode words they are not able to yet.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some baby food jars or other containers, popsicle sticks, masking tape and markers.
  2. I started by writing the words to match to on the tape. I find it easiest to put the tape on the table , write then rip it off. You may want to use painters tape like I did if you do it this way. If all you have is regular old masking tape , write it on the roll, then rip off. Add it to your jar.
  3. Now write the words on the sticks. I started by doing it right onto the stick, and it ran weird. Learning to read is hard enough let’s not make it harder with weird writing… so instead…
  4. I wrote it on more tape and wrapped it on the end of a stick. I wrote some words starting with uppercase and some with lowercase. I did this deliberately because my son was asking if they make different sounds. I put them both in to show him that the word still sounds the same.
  5. Time to play. Games and activities like this should be marketed to your kids as that , play. If these tasks aren’t fun try to find some way to make it fun or find other tasks they like and adapt. When learning is attached to play , the lessons stick and learning is fun not a daunting task.
  6. Encourage them to say the words out loud to match up the sounds. Here he is saying the words out loud to see if they rhyme… these did not.
  7. Keep sounding them out and matching them up.
    Rhyming Jars - early literacy lesson
  8. Soon he could hear and see the patterns , which was super cool.

Even if your child iosn’t ready for this activity, take time to be silly and talk in rhyme with them and read books with rhyming texts. It’s such a fun part of language !

Books That Rhyme

How Big Is a Pig? by Claire Beaton has fast become a favorite in our house around bedtime. I love the felt illustrations, the detail amazes me and helps distract me from noticing that I have read it 20 times in as many minutes. The story itself is great too, it focuses on opposites in the farm yard with a zippy rhyming text.

Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs! by Sandra Boynton is a cute little book about opposites with dinosaurs as it’s characters. This is a good book for little people who love dinosaurs but aren’t really ready to dive into facts about dinosaurs yet. The melodic rhyming text and adorable pictures appeals to younger toddlers, and on the page where the dinosaurs are called bad for painting on their friends made both me and my son laugh.

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.

Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin by Lloyd Moss is a big hit at our house and if you have a child into music or musical instruments this is a great book. You count the instruments as they come on stage for a performance and not only is this a great counting book, but it introduced musical instruments in it’s rhyming text and super fun pictures. I am biased though my little man is really really into instruments and loves this book. The day we bought it I had to sit in the back with him on the way home from the bookstore because he couldn’t wait to read it .