Sunday, June 3, 2012

Letter Ball: fun with phonics

My eldest son began to show an increased interest in letters this past winter.  He was curious about how to write them, the sounds they make, and the words they form.  We try to let our children take the lead and show us what they want/need to learn.  We play with letters in the standard ways, writing words, notes to faraway friends and family, reading signs, picking out letters and sounds from words in books, etc.  But I wanted really capitalize on this increased interest by having some fun with phonics.

This activity is super fun, can be played solo or in groups, and can be adapted to fit lots of interests and abilities, ie. sight words, which we will be doing this summer, numbers, which we have done in the past, addition and subtraction, colors, animal sounds, etc.

The supplies:
  • markers/crayons
  • 26 pieces of paper - mine were approx. 3x4 (or 13 if you use front and back)
  • a soft stuffed ball
  • paper plates (optional - gives a larger target and could also be decorated)
  • painters tape - or other removable tape
Depending on the age and attention span of your child, you can either prepare the game ahead of time or your child can help.  I was pleasantly surprised that my son wanted to write the letters himself.  He confidently wrote most of the alphabet, needing to see examples of B, J, K, Q, R, U and Z.  We wrote one letter on each piece of paper.  We originally used crayon, but later traced over it with purple marker to make it easier to read.  We then folded over the painters tape, stuck it on the back of the letter paper and stuck them on the wall.  We used 6 letters at a time with a few inches of spacing in between.

We put a wood block on the floor, but you could use any placeholder, like the painters tape.  Leon stood behind the line with the ball and as I made the letter sound he threw the ball to hit the letter.  We did two tries per letter.  If there were letters that he struggled with we would come back to them before switching out the letters for another set of 6.  Then we switched it up and I would say a word and Leon would throw the ball to hit the letter that the word started with.  I started out easy with letters I was sure that he knew well to build his confidence and then gradually made it more difficult by putting letters that he sometimes confuses in the same set of 6 - like the sounds made by C and S.  

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