game · letter work · STEAM · word work

word work Wednesday- lowercase letter practice

If you have been following my blog for a while, you know that I strongly believe in the importance of children recognizing, writing and matching the sound to lowercase letters. You can read about this here. Playing games with the alphabet makes it more enjoyable and helps your child build fluency.

Children need to be able to quickly recognize the letter by name and sound. Just as later on it is important for children to master sight words, phonemic blending and vocabulary in order to read fluently, they also need to master letter recognition and phoneme matching. So, this means keep playing games with those letters until your child is able to confidently and quickly name the letter and the sound it makes!

Here are a few fun games.

This first game can be played indoors or out…

It’s raining letters!

Create a collection of letters (magnetic letters, letter cards, flash cards, post it notes… doesn’t matter). Put all the letters in a bunch, when I play this in the classroom we use magnetic letter and I put them on a plate. Now toss all the letters up into the air and let them fall down. Now find the letters. In the classroom we do this by having each child pick a few and then we put the letters into alphabetical order. At home, you could call out a letter name and have your child go find that letter. If you have multiple children, or are playing yourself, you could have the children find as many letters as they can, but they can only keep the letter if they know the letter’s name.

Chalk Alphabet Fun

chalk letters

Want to get outside and use some chalk? This is a great medium to practice letter writing. Have your child write his/her name. Pick 3-5 letters and have him/her write the capital and lowercase letters. Play hopscotch, but put letters instead of numbers. Create an alphabet caterpillar. So many fun ways to play with letter writing and chalk

If you do not want the letters to sat on your walk… play another game. Give your child a paint brush and water, a hose or even a squirt gun. Ok now tell them a letter and have them squirt the letter until it is gone!

rock alphabet letters

Here is one more fun outside alphabet activity. Have your child recreate the letters using natural object. They could use rocks, sticks, grass, or any other items they find outside. This is part of loose parts learning. In the loose parts learning philosophy, you provide children with bits of this and that and let them create their own expression. This can be done with natural items, Lego blocks, bottle caps, pipe cleaners, or any other item that can be used in a variety of ways. Loose parts is open ended and allows your child to use their imagination to show what they know.

And just in case you are stuck inside with rain or need your child to plug in for a bit… here is a fun bubble alphabet game.

game · math

Math Monday- Numbers and Bubbles

I did not get around to posting my topic post yesterday. Oops.. oh well I’ll call it a Mother’s day pass.

This week I have provided my students activities that deal with bubbles. Who doesn’t love bubbles? I will share links to stories and science videos tomorrow during topic Tuesday.

Here are two fun games to play with numbers and bubbles.

Count the bubbles… yep that’s it. Children at this age love an excuse to count. So blow bubbles and have them count the bubbles as they pop them. Or work on blowing bubbles and have them count the number of bubbles they can blow. Want to make it a challenge? Set a timer and each person blows bubbles for 2 minutes or so. See who can count more in that time frame.



This is a fun game that can be adapted in so many ways.

  • game board, this can be done on a piece of paper, or even on your sidewalk with chalk!
  • 2 dice
  • counters/markers (outside you can use rocks, inside anything you can put on top, clear or little are better)

Roll the dice. Add them together. Find the number on the board and cover that number. Now it is the next players turn. He/she rolls. They also cover a number, but if they roll the same number they can choose to put their piece on an uncovered number or bump their opponent off the number. (if player A rolled a 5 and player B has a piece on a 5, player A can put their piece on that 5 and take player B’s piece off the board). If you do not want to get bumped, you can double stack your piece (by rolling the same number twice). The first person to cover 5 numbers wins. (adaptation, cover the whole board and then the person with the most covers wins)

pop the bubbles

One last fun thing to do… ok, yes I said 2, but you get a bonus this time. If you have play dough, then this is a fun game for your child.

Pop the bubbles

Have your child write the numbers 1-12 or 0-10 or whatever combination of numbers you want to work on today. Give your child play dough and have him/her make play dough bubbles to match the number. Now go back and pop (squish) the bubbles to check your counting. Another skill you could practice is counting down. Have your child count up as they make the “bubbles” and then count backwards while “popping” them.

game · phonemic awareness

Phonemic Awareness Thursday- Rhyming

I have found over the years that rhyming is a lot harder for children to understand than you would expect. I can give you a few theories I have, but remember they are just my thoughts!

First, often times children listen to the first sound of a word and then make assumptions of the word based on context or background knowledge. This is very evident when children begin reading. They will look at the first letter and then just guess a word with that beginning sound.

Also, children are typically better at picking out two words that rhyme than coming up with words on their own. Again… children see/hear words based on the first sound and with rhymes you need to hear the rime of the word not the onset. They also have to have the word sense and vocabulary to pull words out of their memory.

There are lots of ways to play with rhymes and they are all important! When working with rhyme, I usually start with poems, song and stories that have many rhymes. Songs and poems can be memorized and then adapted. This is why children enjoy nursery rhymes and songs such as Down by the Bay by Raffi.

There are many online rhyming games, such as these games on PBS Kids. But you can also make your own rhyming games at home.

Play I spy with rhymes. I spy something that rhymes with head– bed, red. something that rhymes with hair– chair, pear. etc…

Sing head shoulders knees and toes, but put in words that rhyme with the body parts instead

red, boulders, trees and rose

bed, folders, please and grows

skies and years and south and does

bread, holders, sneeze and hose

keys and snows

Make it fun! Play games with rhymes all the time. They will get it… it will click. Have fun

game · math

Monday Math- Frog jump addition

There are many different concepts that are taught in the early years to help set children up to master addition. We teach addition concepts without using the words addition, adding or even plus. Children at this age understand the concept of putting together. They understand AND. They do not need to, but often do, master addition facts and enjoy these concepts.

Here are a few games that you can play to work on early addition skills.

frog jumps

Frog jump on a number line-

materials: ruler/yard stick, die (dice), and a frog

Have your frog start off the end of your ruler. Roll the die and have your frog jump up that many spaces. 0 And 3 more puts your frog on 3. Roll again 3 and 4 more jumps lands your frog on 7. (this is the concept of adding on a number line).

So, here is the big thing I want you to work on with this skill…. the most important skill at this age, have your child count on from their start point. Children at this stage of math development struggle with counting if the do not start at 1 each time. They need to work at a skill called counting on. So with the second example, they would say 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. If they are struggling to count jumps and count at the same time, put a piece of paper or other writing device (white board would be great as it can be used over and over) under the ruler. Draw out the jumps, but don’t move the frog. Now, have your child count on as he/she moves the frog forward.

frogs and flies

Frog and Flies

Materials- paper, marker, something to be frogs and flies, 2 dice (two different colors would work best)

Draw a 2 x 6 grid on a sheet of paper.

Have your child roll the dice. Once die will represent frogs and the other one flies.

Have your child add the frogs and flies to the grid based on the number they roll. 2 frogs and 4 flies makes 6. You can easily flip this and compare to see more and less. I have 2 frogs and 4 flies, so I have 2 more flies than frogs.

This game works on a few skills. First it works on one-to-one correspondence. Putting one frog/fly for each number on the dice, then putting them into one box at a time…. AND comparing based on the columns are all levels of one-to-one correspondence.

Remember these are introductory skills and are not expected to be mastered, but played with and experienced

game · phonemic awareness

Phonemic Awareness Thursday– stretching sounds/ The Talking Ghost

Many children struggle with combining sounds they hear out loud, but this is a key skill in sounding them out on their own. Here is another fun way to practice what they need to do to stretch and blend phonemes!

Have your child draw and cut out a ghost!

Practice talking like a ghost first. Hhhhheelllloooo mmmmyyyyy ffffrrrriiiieeennnddd! Remember to just stretch it out the way you say it out loud. Once your child gets good at ghost talk, you can begin a fun game.

This is an I say, you say game. You will say a word with the sounds in isolation (/d/ /o/ /g/) and then your child will say the same word like a ghost ddddoooogggg. Have them move their ghost from left to right as they say the sounds aloud, so the ghost moves with the sounds. After they stretch out the word, have your child say the word fast.

Here’s another example

  • you: /h/ /ou/ /s/
  • child: hhhhhoooouuuuusssssseeeee — HOUSE!

Continue with familiar words. Want to switch it up? you stretch out the word and have your child say the individual phomemes they hear (switch roles)

you: ssssshhhhhiiiiirrrrrrtttttt

child: /sh/ /ir/ /t/ –SHIRT!

game · letter work

Wednesday Word Work- alphabet review

I figured we had not done any letter identification practice in a bit. I’m going to show you a few games that can be quickly altered to make it more enjoyable for your child, and hopefully you! I hope you are going back and visiting the letter game I showed you here.

Children love to use highlighters, bingo daubers, markers and pens when they practice letters. You would be shocked at how just changing the medium they are using will motivate them to practice writing and recognizing letters.

The first game is a roll and write. I am sharing it with the letters c, o, a, d, g, and q filled in, but you can change out the letter to any letter you want to practice. Have your child roll the die and then write the letter in the column above the number the rolls. In this example, if they roll a 2 they say “o” and practice writing the letter “o” above the number 2 die/letter “o”.

The reason I choose c, o, a, d, g, q is when you start writing them correctly they all begin by writing a “c”. The next set of letters I teach are i, t, l, b, k, h, p (all start with a straight line down) r, n, m (all go down, up, curve) v, w, y, z (all have slanted lines) e, u, s, f, j (each unique letters…. to write the lowercase e which is tough for them teach them to go over and then make a c).

letter sheet

The next game is a letter hunt game. This game can be made by writing letters at random on a piece of paper, printing out a sheet, letting your child search through a magazine OR using a word search to find the letters.

There are a few ways to play this game. Provide your child a set of letters that match the letters they are searching for and have them find the match on the sheet. (Have your child circle, cover, highlight or other ways to mark the letters already found/matched)

Provide them with the capital letter and have them find the lowercase that matches it on the sheet.

Say the letter name and/or sound aloud for your child and have him/her find the letter on the sheet.

Say a word and have your child find the beginning sound (want to make it harder? have them find the ending sound instead)

Provide a stack of pictures and they say the word and then find the beginning sound.

See… lots of ways to switch it up and help challenge your child with one simple sheet of paper.

game · math · STEAM · topic

Monday Math– game boards

Games are a great way to work on many different learning skills with children. I love when I can get a lot of learning in and they don’t see it as learning, just as having fun. Today I created a simple game board. I made it in the shape of a snail since we are learning about pond ecosystems this week and the shape of a snail lends itself easily into a game board shape.

game board

I find that children who do not play games at home struggle to count on a game board. They want to count the space they are on as 1 and then the space in front of them as two. If you did this, then every time you roll a 1 you go no where. When I teach children to count on a game board, we start with 0. Zero is the spot you are standing on and 1 is the spot in front of you. This does two things… it gets you to understand how to count on a game board, AND it reinforces counting from zero instead of one.

Here are a few simple ways to use the board to practice math skills.

Simple Version

Start at the snails head. Roll a die on your turn and then move forward that many spaces. The first person to get to the inside of the shell, the finish spot, wins. As we say in class… easy peasy! This skill works on counting forward 0-6, recognizing the common dice configuration of the numbers 1-6, taking turns and playing a game.

Skill based

count and move pieces

Create cards that your child can use to practice a skill. I created counting cards with items you would find in a pond ecosystem. The child would draw a card and count the number of items on the card. If he/she gets it correct they then move forward that many spaces. This allows you to practice counting items beyond 6, work on varied configurations of counted objects and much more. If you want to work on numbers higher than 10 you could have the child count the number of items on the card and then if they get it correct roll the die and move according to that so you don’t move through the game too quickly.

This same game board can be used for any number of skills. Practice letter recognition, matching shapes, and any skill you want. Create game pieces that show the skill you wish to work on and then move around the board as you get the answers correct. You can even do it with various level children by creating different skill cards for each child. So a 3 year old might work on recognizing shapes and colors, a 5 year old might work on counting items from 6-12 and a 7 year old might work on addition facts. This way they are all working on skills they need to practice, can play the same game and have an equal chance of getting the answers correct.

game · phonemic awareness

Phonemic Awareness Thursday- name chant

Today’s activity is a blending of onset (first sound in a word) and rime (the remainder of the word).—— If you are saying the sounds and having your child put them together they are working on pre-reading skills. If you provide the word and have your child break it apart they are working on pre-writing skills.

Here is a simple chant to try:

  • It begins with a /w/
  • And ends with /eb/
  • Put it together
  • And they say _____ (your child should say web)

I suggest that you start this with simple CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words. Another way to do this is to pick words your child is familiar with such as names, animals, colors, or other favorite topics.

When your child gets good at hearing the combination, have your child do the chant and see if you can hear the word they are breaking apart.

I feel like I’m pushing the importance of phonemic awareness each Thursday. Phonemic awareness is the understanding how phonemes, the sounds letters make, work in the spoken word. When children are able to manipulate phonemes aloud, without the visual clues, it will aid in their ability to read and write.

When a child begins to read they need to decode the printed words. The start of this is being able to manipulate phonemes. They need to know the sound each letter makes AND be able to put those sounds together in words. Children who develop a strong phonemic awareness already know what it sounds like when you push phonemes together.

When children begin to write the are encoding words. This is the ability to break apart a word into its phonemes and then write them down. Again, when children learn to break apart words orally they are already confident in breaking apart words on their own and then only have to make the connection to the phoneme and the printed letters.

game · phonemic awareness · STEAM

phonemic awareness Thursday- compound words

Today we are going to work on breaking down longer words. The easiest way to begin this orally is to start with compound words. A compound word is a word made up of two smaller words. These typically are words that children are familiar with, yet they may not always see that they are two words in one.

Here is a fun on-line game to practice this skill.

This skill can be worked in both directions… tell the compound word and see if your child can break it into smaller words: basketball = basket + ball, jellyfish = jelly+fish. Or you can give the two smaller words and see if your child can come up with the compound word basket + ball= basketball.

After you have practiced the skill orally a few times you can provide your child with picture cues of the broken apart word and see if your child can put the pictures together as a whole word. This game can be played as a cross the room game, memory or just toss the pictures down and see if they can match up pairs.

Here are some other compound words to try

  • applesauce
  • basketball
  • bathroom
  • bedroom
  • birthday
  • blueberry
  • cupcake
  • downstairs
  • earring
  • firefly
  • fireman
  • goldfish
  • grasshopper
  • haircut
  • inside
  • jellyfish
  • mailbox
  • outside
  • pancake
  • playground
  • rainbow
  • snowflake
  • snowman
  • toothbrush
  • treehouse
  • upstairs
  • underwear
  • watermelon

When your child gets good, play silly compound words. Take and mix up the parts of compound word to make your own word. Have your child illustrate what the new word would look like… what would a upmellon or an applehouse look like? Get creative and most important… have fun!

game · math

Monday Math- Roll and color/cover

This week we will be working on things to do with the weather. So for today’s math activity I decided to create a roll and cover/color activity. You can do the same skill with either covering the numbers or coloring in the spaces.

The rainbow picture I used on die and created a roll and color. I drew out a rainbow and filled the spaces with the numerals 1-6. The child will then roll the die and color based on the number they roll on the die. The goal is for your child to be able to look at the dice dot configuration and know what number it represents without counting. You also want your child to quickly recognize which numeral matches the number of dots.

In the umbrella picture, I drew raindrops (ok some look like hearts, but hey it is what it is). On each raindrop I wrote the numerals 2-12. For this set you would use two dice and have your child roll both. If your child understands addition, they can use addition facts. If not, have your child find the bigger die, in this case 6, then count up on the smaller one, 6, 7, 8. This is the counting on property. It is a beginning step of addition. If your child is confident in the dice configuration of the numbers 1-6, they should be able to move onto this concept. It might take a bit of practice to not start counting at one, but it is a key skill needed for addition.

This same concept can be used with more than two dice, or even to practice multiplication. If your child is working on multi digit numbers, you could have two different color dice and the blue is the first digit and the green is the second and they have to say that 46 is forty-six or 51 is fifty one for example.