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This was a very quick activity to set up and J really enjoyed it! I put some sand and shells into a cat litter tray, it has never been used by a cat, promise!! Next, I cut up some white card into small pieces.  I wrote four of the sounds J is learning on a piece of card and did several copies for each sound! (‘s’, ‘a’, ‘t’ and ‘p’). 

Inspector Phonics

Finally, I part buried the card pieces in the sand and put one sound in each section of the ‘sorting’ basket sections. I put the game outside with a magnifying glass for the ‘inspector’ feel and tweezers to develop J’s fine motor skills and to keep the ‘evidence’ and ‘clues’ from getting finger prints on!

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The fact J got to use his magnifying glass and was looking for clues was enough excitement to get him into the activity! He couldn’t wait to find some ‘evidence’ and put it into the evidence box! Sometimes, J can be reluctant to use the tweezers as he says he can just use his fingers but I wanted him to have a hand workout so I told him we didn’t want his finger prints on the cards!!  Obviously, as soon as J’s hand was tired he instinctively put the tweezers down and used his hand – I did not say anything as I wouldn’t want him to hurt or overwork his hand!

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As soon as J started, he said he could see letters and began making the sound ‘s’ as he picked up the S and so on!  He is loving practising his sounds through play and NEVER sees it as work! This is why play is so effective; if thought about carefully and creatively, learning through play, in my opinion, is unbeatable for young children.

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When J’s hand got tired, he began digging with his fingers for the letters and this in itself is still working his little fingers!

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What did J learn?

  • Developed recall and recognition of the phonemes (sounds) and the grapheme (visual representation of the letter).
  • Developed fine motor skills.
  • Learned new vocabulary: evidence, inspector and finger prints.
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