It is an uncertain time and there is no doubt anxiety and fear are huge emotions bubbling away right now.
If you are stuck at home and your usual routine has gone out of the window, keeping your little ones busy can be a challenge. Why not create pockets of playful learning that will help keep boredom and technology at bay whilst building knowledge, skill and connection. Great advice for this time comes from Winnie the Pooh, “When life throws you a rainy day, play in the puddles.” Making the best out of this crisis will help your children see how you deal with difficult situations and guide them to deal with their own sticky situations in the future.
Here are 5 playful reading activities to encourage oral language skills, vocabulary building, and fluency whilst having fun with phonics and writing for a reason.
1. Word building games
Word building is a great activity for any age. It primes little learners for print as they manipulate sounds to create words and engages older children in word play. 10 minutes of word building helps children to develop and apply phonological knowledge and skills as they segment and blend sounds to build words.
Use of a movable alphabet or post it notes with letters on them are a great way to help your child focus on the sounds and letters to create words. As your child manipulates the tiles remind them to say the sound as they see the letter to cement the sound to symbol correspondence needed for fluent reading and spelling.
Try these fun ideas
Add sounds to small words.
Say and ask your child to add a /h/ what is the word now….hand
Take away sounds
Say can ask your child to remove /c/ what is it left… an
Create rhyming strings
Start with a small word like bat and show your child how it is only the first letter that changes to create a rhyme. A movable alphabet is a great tool for this activity as you can have the letters ready and switch out the letters to build the new word. Check out the link here to my website to grab a free basic code movable alphabet.
Go on a hunt
Treasure hunts are a fun activity that can incorporate lots of sounds and alphabet learning. The chase is fun and is a great way to actively build letter sounds awareness, especially with little people who can’t sit still!
Find some items or pictures beginning with the letters you are focusing on /b/ bat, bus, brush, block, bead, boy
/s/ sun, star, sock, skittle, square, as in the picture.
Hide them around and about and say,
“We are hunting for /b/ things today.”
Once found have a chat about the initial sound and pull sounds out of each word.
Always discuss the initial sound and train little ears to hear all the sounds in words by segmenting each word into the smallest unit of sound, this is called a phoneme.
Use a mixture of words, some decodable, like bat /b/ /a/ /t/ that you can play with and sound out, and use some pictures with more complex sounds such as boy and discuss that boy has 3 letters but 2 sounds /b/ /oy/ By talking about this as you hunt you are training your little one to hear the smallest unit of sound in words.
Sun has 3 sounds and 3 letters.
Let’s stretch the word to spell it sssss u nnn.
If your little one is struggling to segment words try starting with continuant consonants – letters that stretch and hold the sound s, n, m, w, f are examples.
To extend the hunt when ready use short decodable words such as bat or can. Always get your little learner to segment the sounds linking these to the letters and blend back together to make the word when you find them.
Once you are done with the hunt ask your child to write the letter that all the pictures or objects begin with. Later on you could have your child write the words that go with each picture or object. Play the odd sound out game with the pictures or objects. Set up 4 things sun, bus, brick, bead and ask your child to point and name them. When they have done this play the odd one out. Which ones all have the same first sound? Which one is the odd one out with a different first sound? A great listening game.
3. Read together and create
Books can be a wonderful stimulus for art and craft activities that go beyond the book. Talking about a book is just as important as reading a book. To be able to discuss a book you have to be able to understand what is going on. Discussions around the text are vital for comprehension and vocabulary building.
As you craft with your little one discuss the story and model how to give an opinion and ask for one.
What did you like?
What don’t you like?
Let’s retell the story and sequence the begin, middle and end.
As you talk you are helping your little one to develop new vocabulary and extend their speaking and listening skills. A child’s vocabulary growth is directly related to their success at school. So, the daily chat can help your child academically, as a robust vocabulary helps them understand the curriculum and the wider world.
4. Play libraries
Our library is closed right now, and we really miss those weekly visits. Have your little librarians gather some favourites and create a display area or book basket as their “library”. Talk about the books, model how to give a recommendation, ask for a recommendation.
Use this as a role play set up and make tickets, use something as a stamp and even set up a cash register for those pesky fines! You could also get older children to write out their recommendation and leave it with the book for the next visitor to read. Don’t forget your book bag!
5. Storytelling and story making
Stories provide the perfect base for storytelling. After reading create a story basket for small world play to encourage imaginative play and active retelling. Story baskets are not just for the early years. We always make a story basket to go with our daily read aloud. The Harry Potter basket is a favourite in our home. Change up elements of the story or shuffle the characters. You could even extend the story and add new characters, a new setting or a new problem.
Storytelling is a powerful way to help your little one create their own stories and extend favourites. Another fun idea is to use my FREE chatterbox storyteller to inspire your own story making. It contains 4 story starters, 8 characters, 4 settings and 4 problems to help your little one tell a story that they could then make into their own little book with a quick fold of paper. The link is here to get the free chatterbox and other free literacy printables.
Reading together frequently is a great way to connect and build a love of books in your home. This positive experience will lay a firm foundation that explicit literacy instruction can firmly sit on.
Have lots of reading fun together.
Take care and stay safe x
Tiny Steps Make Big Strides
Tiny Steps Make Big Strides
Free downloads: https://tinystepsmakebigstrides.com/library/
Word building: https://tinystepsmakebigstrides.com/reading-adventures/