Phonics is a term you will have no doubt heard repeatedly. It is often upheld as the pinnacle of knowledge that all children need in order to be successful writers and readers.
Controversially, I am not so sure if that is true. While I agree phonics is important, I worry that children (and parents) are put under too much pressure. In my world, phonics should be a fun and interactive way to breathe passion and enjoyment into the world of reading and writing. It should be the first steps on a path that opens hidden doors, lays out magic carpets and reveals a multitude of worlds.
I want Arlo to hear the word ‘phonics’ and leap with anticipation of the fun that lays ahead and that is ultimately why I am writing this blog post. To provide you with some quick, fail safe ways to introduce phonics that are above all else – FUN!
So, without further ado, let me share with you 5 of my favourite phonics activities that you can do at home without spending a penny!
Grab several items all with the same letter and pop them into a basket or tray. There's no need to buy fancy trays, even an old takeaway tub will work! For example, a D basket might have a toy duck, donkey, dog, dummy, deer, dinosaur, diamond etc.
The very first time you introduce this activity, you can ask your child to select an item and tell them the correct name, emphasising the initial sound. D-d-d-d-duck!
After that, you can build upon their knowledge by asking them to examine the basket and work out which sound the basket represents.
Another option is to have a few baskets available and a selection of items for your child to sort into the various sounds.
Use a whiteboard pen to write on the side of Lego or Duplo blocks. You could pop each block into a tray of water and fish one out, hide one around the garden or in a sensory base. Once you've chosen a block, find something else around the house with the same sound. For example, if you draw 'p', you might run and grab a plum or toy plane. Remember, the first letters your child is typically exposed to is SATPIN, so if you're new to this, begin there!
Grab some pieces of paper and write large letters on the middle of each. If it is a sunny day, you could write the letters directly onto the pavement. You can even use chalk pens directly onto kitchen tiles!
Call out a letter and ask your child to run and 'stomp' on the letter you've called out.
If your child is new to phonics, you could add a photo next to each letter to give them a clue and gradually remove the images over time.
For this you need a few post it notes or scraps of paper. If you're a Catkin Club member, there is a pre-made version of this inside the 'writing & mark making' resources segment so be sure to save some time and print that out!
The idea here is to have a letter and a picture to match together. For example, on one piece of paper write the letter a and on the other an apple. Shuffle the cards and ask your little one to match them together.
This is a great scavenger hunt activity, too. Children really enjoy scavenger hunts. If you haven't tried one - give it a go! Simply hide the image cards and keep the letter ones. Ask them to select a letter and then burn off some energy as they run around the find the matching image!
Stick it to ya!
Arlo absolutely adores this one!
Write a letter onto a piece of paper and give your little one some stickers. You could use whatever ones you have and if you don't have any, just cut out some small pieces of paper and give them a glue stick too.
Initially, the idea is to stick stickers along the outline of each letter while they say the sound. For example, write the letter 'P' and ask them to cover it with stickers repeating the 'p-p-p-p' as they place each one.
Once they are gaining confidence, write two letters onto a piece of paper. Then, write the same two letters onto each of the stickers. The idea here is to create an element of problem solving as your little one needs to decide not only which sticker to choose, but which letter to stick it onto.
Well, there you have it! 5 practical and engaging phonics activities you can try at home and it won't cost you a penny!
I'd love to know which one you're going to try first. Let me know in the comments! ⏬