Updated: Aug 21, 2021
Phonics is the process of learning the sounds that each letter, and combinations of letters make. Eventually your child will use these skills to learn to read and write. All the bits that I use in these activities can be bought via my Amazon shop.
Silly Soup - This is a lovely activity for children who are starting on their phonics journey. Take a bowl or pan, fill it with water, letters (just a few and ideally those in your child's name to start with) and other 'ingredients'. You can see in the above picture that I created a Spring themed one, but you can add anything you like! Encourage your child to stir the soup and spoon out some letters, can they recognise the letter? Model curiosity with your child "Which letter have you got? What sound does it make? Is that letter in your name?" Have fun!
Splat Bat Phonics - This is my eldest boy's favourite phonics game and is perfectly adaptable for any stage of learning. I would recommend playing this game in the garden, or in an empty bath - it does create mess! Spray blobs of shaving foam onto a flat surface, add letters, to the mounds and task your child to "Find the f", if they get it correct they can splat the shaving foam with the fly swat! Super fun and super engaging.
Bookish Play - if you've already read the Numeracy Blog post then you'll know that "bookish play" simply means using books to reinforce learning. Do you have any alphabet books? Can your child match the letters on the page with magnetic letters that you might have? They will be able to do this before recognising the letters themselves as it is essentially a shape matching task.
Unusual resources - create your own letters, as pictured you can simply use felt-tip pens to write letters of the alphabet onto stones, why not write upper case on one side and lower case on the other? Always start teaching lower case letters as these are the letters that we use most frequently. You can also use a glue gun to write letters onto cardboard, or make salt-dough letters as a family activity. Children are tactile creatures, so if they can pick up resources, and move them about themselves they are much more engaging.
Playdough and kinetic sand are fantastic for making prints! In the picture above I set up a tray with some kinetic sand, letters from my son's name, Duplo blocks, stamps and cupcake cases! The letters were there in case he recognised them and made prints - he did; and he did. The Duplo was there to count the imprinted dots - he did and the other bits were there purely to play with.
Matching - can your child match letters hidden in a sensory tray like the one pictured (dry red lentils, and coffee beans) to an alphabet written on paper? Can they tell you which letter each is and what sound it makes?
Rhyme Detectives - hearing rhyme is an important part of phonological awareness, it proves that your child is hearing the similarities and differences in the sounds of words, this is a step towards hearing how letter sounds blend together to make words. Play letter detectives with a magnifying glass if you have one and ask your child to do something silly, like jump up and down and shout "RHYME" each time they hear a rhyme. We used Julia Donaldson's Everywhere Bear.
For more ideas for first phonics activities check out my School Ready play pack.