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We had a bit of a Literacy afternoon today and I wanted to keep things simple! I was hot, the children were hot and we were ALL bothered!! I’m sure I’m not alone when I say we’ve all had those days when we’re just happy we survived!! Aside from going to the shop this morning and being verbally abused by a five year old (NOT mine!), today has involved a lot of huffing (mine) but I’m happy to say we managed a couple of hours of lovely play!

To make this simple activity, I cut out some sounds J knows (or is in the process of learning) from some white foam and put them on a black background (our magnet board).  I put lots of different buttons in a basket (varying shapes, sizes, patterns and colours).  I told J he could make the letters ‘snazzy and beautiful’ and he set to work.

Snazzy Sounds

Picking up the buttons is a good finger work out; developing those fine motor skills needed for learning to write.

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When children are learning their sounds, I believe it is very important to place more of an emphasis on the sound it makes rather than the letter name!  It is the sound that essentially helps children blend words to read and segment words to write!  The sound a letter makes is called a phoneme and the visual representation of the sounds (the shape of the letter/what it looks like) is called a grapheme.  This activity is good for reinforcing the shape (grapheme) and therefore is a form of early letter formation.  The conversation J and I were having as he played centred around the sounds each of the letters make.  We also said things like, ‘a for apple’ and ‘i for igloo’ as we played.  J is getting increasingly good at this but still needs lots of practise and rehearsal.

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As well as discussing the phonemes and the initial sounds in words, J also used vocabulary related to size and shape.  Below he was using a high-pitched voice saying, ‘it’s teeny tiny Mummy!’

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J also used comparative language (smaller and bigger) as he was looking for a specific size button to cover his letters.  He used superlatives like (smallest and biggest) as he played.

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During this play, J had a HUGE tantrum because he swished his leg across the top of the buttons and knocked them all out of position!! Oooops!  I was ready to pack it all away (told you – bad day!) but J started again (once he’d calmed down) and completed his snazzy letters!! Look at that concentration and determination! Excellent traits to have I think!Winking smile

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The finished product!! J got so much out of this activity and it only took five minutes to cut out the foam letters.

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What did J learn?

  • Beginning of letter formation (graphemes)
  • Recognition and rehearsal of sounds (phonemes)
  • Fine motor development
  • Language development (size, pattern, colour)
  • Problem solving (finding the right size buttons for the spaces
  • Understanding of initial sounds at the start of words e.g. a for ant, s for sun
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