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 three 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 possess 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 the 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.
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.
I set them up so that the items were out and she had a pile of the words. I did this on purpose. The idea was to have her 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 reading puzzles game lets her do that without the pressure of an adult over her shoulder. But it has a self-correcting feature built in she can get back on track herself if she makes a mistake.
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. It’s a perfect example of how children can and should use illustrations in the text as a scaffold.
All these strategies in a quick and easy to put together activity.