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.
Simple activities using toys we already have in our playroom are my favorite. Finding new ways to use the toys inspires creativity and play. This Hexbug race activity was a spur of the moment idea that I made my son pause as I ran downstairs to grab my camera. We played from after dinner all the way until bedtime and again after school the next day. We didn’t places bets but the way my son was hooting and hollering you’d think he had money on his little Hexbugs. Here is how we set it up simply enough that anyone can do this with very little planning. I apologize for the terrible light in the photos, I could have re-taken the photos in the daylight the next day but I try my best to always share it like it is, and this was done after the sun went down with bad photography light. The good news is that didn’t change how much fun it was.
Gather your materials. You will need some Hexbug Nanos , habitats, and bridges. I have links to the exact toys we have at the end of the post. If you want to take a more hands on approach you could try making your own bristle bots and make your own mazes with Lego! With a little extra planning there is no reason you have to use these exact toys.
Set up the course. We don’t have a ton of tracks so our courses were short but we made two identical ones with what we had. You could do this with one track and a stopwatch too, just send the bugs in one and a time and time them.
Some activities have a clear academic goal,some are about creating something together, some are for physical development, and some are just about having fun with your kids. They are all important.
Quick Links Supply List
This is a list of the supplies ( or very similar) items used in the post. This list contains affiliate links.
A few weeks ago my son was home from school because of parent teacher conferences and I made him a Word Ladder Printable. While we were printing it out my daughter begged me to make her something special just for her. Time was short and I needed to start dinner but she was really sad that she didn’t have something. So I through this alphabet coloring sheet together. Matching upper and lowercase letters is still a fun activity for her and adding an element of secret code into it made it special. I didn’t plan this activity but she loved it! I wouldn’t call this a handwriting activity because the font used is anything but standard but coloring in the dots still takes good hand control and concentration.
Explain the sheet to your child by showing them the colorful lowercase alphabet on the bottom and telling them that they need to use the crayons to color in the uppercase alphabet in the same colors as the lowercase letters.
When she was all done she recited the alphabet from A to Z. Then asked me for another sheet. I think 6 have been completed since in about 10 days which is usually just enough quiet time for me to answer a few emails that can’t be put off until after bedtime.
Alphabet Books With Upper & Lowercase Letters
all our book lists contain affiliate links.
Eating the Alphabet: Fruits & Vegetables from A to Z by Lois Ehlert is an alphabet book extraordinaire and perfect for a letter F since it’s all about food! Wonderful paintings of fruits and vegetables seem ultra simple and it is but somehow the way the author has pieced this simple book together is brilliant. Maybe it’s that children learn about food at the table multiple times a day and feel proud being able to identify not only some of the letters but some of the pictures too! From a teaching standpoint I love that there are both upper and lower case letters on each page. This book will grow with your child, and beware it will also make you hungry.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom: Anniversary Edition by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault is one of my absolute favorite books ever. Many alphabet books are great tools but this one not only entertains it never gets old. Its text is musical , its premise is brilliant in its simplicity and kids love it. My favorite line is ” Skit skat scoodle doot. Flip flop flee. ” I hope I am conveying how much fun this book is to read out loud. I have never had a class who didn’t like it and if you don’t have it, you should!
The Sleepy Little Alphabet: A Bedtime Story from Alphabet Town by Judy Sierra is a great alphabet book. I couldn’t help myself, I read it to my son to the tune of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom . It is clearly its own book though. The alphabet is getting ready for bed and just like your little ones, these lowercase letters are pulling out all their tricks and antics to avoid bedtime. Well almost all of them, z is more than happy to go to bed! It’s a sweet book that your kids can relate to and I like that it focuses on lowercase letters.
One of my most popular posts ever is my Play ( and learn) Room post where I walk readers through all the elements I think are essential for a playroom. The playroom in that post is designed for a young toddler and preschooler, the post explains what toys we had in our playroom and why they are important for learning. Here’s the thing my playroom looks very different now that my toddler is a preschooler and my preschooler is in 2nd grade. I am not ready to give up on this room though, it’s a happy room and with a few changes and a good clean my kids are completely in love again. This post is about how to set up a playroom your kids will use once they have outgrown your existing one. I knew I had to share the changes with you.
In this post a lot of the toys my children use and love are listed with affiliate links.
In the original post ( read it here) I listed these elements as the must have for a good playroom for very young kids :
- Table and chairs to create on.
- Dress up
- Practical life
- Musical instruments
- A comfy place to look at books
- Art on the walls.
Here is how I have changed the room as my kids have aged. The main elements haven’t been deleted just adapted.
Our block area no longer has Little People Builders , wooden, or Tegu Magnetic Wooden Blocks instead our toys have turned from these wonderful basics to the next step with Gears
, Automoblox , HEXBUG , and Color Clix . All of these toys allow my kids to build at their own level which is important when you have a 4 year old and an almost 8 year old. They also let them build and play together. Having them all out and ready lets them use the toys however they want. This weekend my daughter made a gear machine to spin her Magiclip Princesses
and see which could stay on and which would fall off. No prompting just access to the right toys. One toy that has been a favorite from day one and is still is LEGO
and DUPLO ( yes they both still play with it). The Duplo is in the playroom but Lego is in their bedrooms where they can protect their creations from demolition.
Our book nook is pretty much the same although most of the board books are gone ( a few favorites remain) and more non-fiction and chapter books have made their way on to the shelves.
One notable difference is our craft table. The table is the same but now it’s filled with art supplies within reach. The only thing that I don’t have out and available are liquid tempra and sharpies. Once my daughter is past her finger paint to whole body paint stage I will have it within reach. The sharpies… I’m just not ready yet. I have art daubers, markers, colored pencils, crayons, glue, googly eyes, buttons, gems, scissors, paper and more all out ready to be used.
Our kitchen area is filled with a lot more food, tea sets, and crocheted sushi. But we play grocery store with the cash register and shopping cart ,using the kitchen as the produce section and working on everything from manners, building confidence and math while we play.
The instruments have been moved to my toddler classroom where they are enthusiastically used! If your kids don’t use toys get rid of them no matter how awesome you think they are. You can pass them on to a friend or just put them away for a while and see if absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Some of the things we have added is the easel and a writing center on the top of the drawers that hold our Duplo, puzzles, and more. The writing center is a place to play with letters with pencils, markers, and even stamps. Our travel chalkboard and small Magna Doodle are more tools for writing. The easel gets used for drawing, writing, and even as a place to hang paintings to dry. You might recognize our cutting station which is used often and a great way to use scrap paper and broken beaded necklaces. It’s also a fun challenge.
The space hasn’t changed dramatically but what’s in it has evolved slowly.
Do you have a playroom? How has it changed as your children have grown? Tell me about it in comments.
Power lines are down all over town after a bad windstorm so I think we might be skipping church in the morning which means… Pjs and Pinterest for me ( at least until the kids need breakfast ! ) so link up NOW and amaze me with your brilliant kids crafts, Halloween ideas, and preschool ideas. Those are just suggestions though because really any post that you think families, parents, kids, or teachers could benefit from is welcome.
I hope you have a lovely week filled with learning and play!