All three male members of our household love fishing. Actually, the female cat probably would, too. So, this week, I attempted to jump onto the fishing bandwagon with some fishing- themed literacy activities.
This game is as simple as a sensory bin (mixing bowl), with cotton wool, letters and net. As Little scooped the letters out, we practiced the sound, then the ‘real’ name of the letter, and what object or animal we could think of, starting with that initial.
The prevailing thought these days, in the Early Years world, is to just teach the phonetic sound; ‘mmmmmm’, or ‘p’, rather than as we used to say, in the olden days; ‘em’ or ‘pee’. I tend to do both:
“What sound is it? That’s right, it’s mmmm, the letter em, mmmm for Mummy.”
Is it right or wrong? Who knows, Big (aged 5) has never been confused by this method. I guess if a child was finding it tricky, you could stick to the phonetic sound (mmmmm) as that is how they will be taught it later, in school. For anyone interested in reading up on methods for teaching phonics, Read, Write, Inc. and Jolly Phonics are both used widely in settings.
Magnetic letters are cheap and cheerful, and we already had a magnetic fishing rod from another game. I’ve also seen this activity, on Pinterest, but done with a stick, string and paperclip for a fishing rod!
Little is only young, so we kept it short and fun, remembering that small amounts, often is the way forward with any type of learning.
Top tip for letter recognition at home: Keep the activity out for a few days and casually put it down in different rooms at different times; whilst waiting for the bath to run, cooking in the kitchen, outside in the garden, on the sofa…
Often, Little’s confidence starts to build over time,as he gets used to the game, and he’ll start initiating the letter sounds and asking questions, himself:
“Well nearly, that’s actually a g, letter gee, a g for Granny. This one over here is an e for elephant. Well done!”
As well as being able to talk about the letters and reinforce the sounds, any chance children have to feel and move letters is useful for their wider understanding of what the shape looks like from different angles; ultimately learning that these shapes make up language, both written and verbal. Sometimes I sit with Little and talk about them, sometimes I back off and let him potter with them. I’m never quite sure about the balance of directed activities to organic, child initiated ones, so these days I just play it by ear and relax! He usually lets me know what he wants to do 😉
At least it is the Easter holidays now, and guess what top of the agenda is?!
What interests do your children have? Have you used these to develop literacy activities? I’d love to hear your ideas; please do tweet or comment below.