My 4 year old is at the stage where he is learning alphabet sounds, a sign that he is developing reading readiness. While we were putting together his alphabet puzzle I decided to try something new. I love how it turned an activity we started as a simple boredom buster into a fun literacy exercise for learning phonics that any parent can do at home with his or her child.
Usually when New Kid and I put together the alphabet puzzle I say, "where is the B?" or "B is for basket," then he find the corresponding letter and fits it into the puzzle. But this time I challenged him to find the letter based on the sound I made, such as "buh-buh-buh" for "B", or "ssssss" for "S". I love how this is such a simple phonics game.
He knew most of them, which was great, although some alphabet sounds are not as intuitive, like "guh" for "G" or "hah" for "H". New Kid has a bit of a jokester personality and when he didn't know the sound he had a fun time teasing me with a letter he knew was the wrong choice. That's okay, too, though, because he was still displaying an understanding of literacy rules and it kept it fun, an important quality for learning (in my opinion).
What do you think? Is this something you might try at home? How are your kids showing you they are starting to understand phonics?
MORE: Alphabet activities for kids
Jen Robinson says
I would definitely try this. My daughter isn't quite there yet on recognizing the sounds, but it will be a good next step, once she can recognize all the letters. Thanks for the suggestion!
Thanks, Jen. I was thinking that if I had done this earlier I might have just made the sounds as he put the letters in the puzzle instead of asking him to find the letter for which I made the sound. I think it can definitely be modified for younger kids, too.
Great idea! We have a few letter puzzles, including that one 🙂 My almost three year old knows most of his letters and might enjoy doing the handful of sounds that he knows. Thanks for the tip!
I love that this was not even a planned phonics activity, it just happened naturally. The best learning happens that way.
I have a challenge for your young jokester, Erica. Next time you play, tell him he is so good, he needs a handicap, and produce a blindfold. Remove say five letters from the tray. Having him feel the letter with his finger tips, make its sound AND find its home without peeking will add fine motor and more FUN. I agree with you wholeheartedly on the importance of keeping it fun.
I realised my 4 year old had picked up letter sounds by playing I spy with him. He went from randomly picking letters to things like "I spy with my little eye something beginning with 'H' and that is the 'whole entire universe' " and 'I spy with my little eye something beginning with 'e' and that is air" because he can't have got that from reading the words or someone telling him (unless someone told him the wrong spelling I suppose!) he must have worked it out himself from the sound.
It's sort of amazing how they work so much out by themselves. Kids are pretty smart little creatures.
I like how it is so simple to do yet stretches both the toy and the learning.
Elle Carter Neal says
That's a great idea. We have magnet letters for the fridge which we could do this with easily.
My four-year-old does the same jokester thing as yours - deliberately choosing the wrong item, which can then be extended into a huge game by me acting confused or pretending that it's actually the right one, or other variations. Has him, and me, in fits of giggles.
Magnet letters are a great idea, Elle. I love it when the kids turn it into a fun game like that!
This is a great idea. My son is getting ready for reading too and is often saying 'b' is for... he is great with sounds but not matching with the letters yet, so this is going to be a great way to get him to practise. Thanks for sharing!
I like how this is such a low key activity and there's no pressure to "get it right."
I think it is great to use the sounds a letter makes when referring to the letter; there are phonics programs that do just that. They introduce it as a sound rather then a letter name. Thanks for sharing at Mom's Library!
Rebecca from Here Come the Girls says
I always start with to earning the sound rather than the letter name.
Thanks for linking to the Sunday Showcase. I've pinned it to our board.
This is what I did with my son. He loved it! But instead of "I" for insect, I made up "I" for icky bug. 🙂 He thought that was so funny. He also like me to substitute "S" for stinky socks..... boys!
Erica MomandKiddo says
I love that, Beth. Plus, don't you think they learn better if something makes them laugh? I do.
Stephanie @ Twodaloo says
This is a great way to extend the use of those alphabet puzzles! And I have a "jokester," too 😉 Thanks for linking up to Discover & Explore this week!