Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Phonics Clean Up Time Game

What do you get when you mix one big mess in your living room, a small white board and a highlighter?

 Inspiration for a new clean up activity, of course:

The Phonics Clean Up Game

What do you need?
the aforementioned mess, a highlighter (or whiteboard marker), a whiteboard and a rag/tissues/whiteboard eraser

How do you do it?
How Do I Teach This Kid to Read?: Teaching Literacy Skills to Young Children with Autism, from Phonics to FluencyEasy!  Write a letter or combination of letters on the whiteboard.  Ask the children to tell you the sound the letter(s) make.  Then, challenge them to find an object in the mess that begins with the sound to clean up.  If using two-letter combos like "sh" or "ch", try using the Diphthong Song from How Do I Teach This Child to Read as a clue for beginning readers to remember the sound the letters make.  If the children like writing, allow them to take turns writing letters on the white board for the next objects to be cleaned up.

What inspired the creation of this game?
Luke and Nina spent one of their recent  free-play periods building a Santa's sleigh construction, packing their toys into bags and happily engaging in dramatic play, zooming about the air to deliver presents to boys and girls.  (Who cares if it's months after Christmas?  They still love playing Santa and I love witnessing their creativity as they do it.)

After some time, the dramatic play began dissolving and, since it was "past time" for Family Work Time, I told the kids they needed to land the sleigh and think about what we should attack during Family Work Time.

Not so surprisingly, Nina was eager to do her favorite practical life activity of late -- vaccuming her bedroom, while -- and this was a shocker -- Luke volunteered to "make the living room clean" by himself.  (Luke rarely, if ever, volunteers to clean up much of anything by himself. In fact, he usually lays on the floor, languishing, and whining about how he is "too tired" to clean, until Mommy or Daddy remind him that if he is too tried to clean up, he must be too tired to play or do anything further, which prompts Luke to begrudgingly help with tidy times .)  So while I helped Nina, Luke did a surprisingly adept job his choice of work.

However, when the Family Work Time timer went off, I found Luke losing steam fast as his job wound down.  All was tidy in the living room around him, except a deep pile of puzzle pieces in the center of the floor that he'd just dumped out of the last of Santa's sacks.

What to do?

Well, commend Luke, of course.  He had demonstrated enormous independence and sticktoitivity in the work he had done.  Also, figure out a way to help Luke finish the job without taking away his well-deserved pride in a job well done and his sense of independence.


With a happily surprised look, I commented, "Wow!  Luke, you cleaned all this up by yourself.  Nina and Mommy just finished vacuuming together and need something else to do.  Do you want us to help you use the puzzle pieces for a challenge?"  (Luke has been loving "challenges" of late.)

Then, when Luke excitedly asked for the challenge,I had to come up with one quickly.  Since Luke and Nina have been very interested letters and sounds lately (due in no small part to the  Leap Frog videos they received during our free family Christmas exchange), I knew I should weave a bit of early literacy and phonics work into the challenge.  And, since my tutoring bag - with a small whiteboard and highlighter in it - were nearby, I knew I could capitalize on the kids' additional interest in reading and  writing by adding a read-and-write element in.  And, so the Phonics Clean Up Time Game was born.

With lots of suspense, I grabbed the whiteboard, drew an "s" and asked what sound it made.  The kids hissed accordingly and I asked them if they could find a puzzle piece that began with that sound.  In seconds, the "starfish" pieces were back in theri puzzle trays.

Before long, the "f" fish and fingers, the "b" bird and butterfly and lots of other pieces followed suit.  Then, the kids started to ask if they could write letters for the game themselves (with Luke actually writing them and Nina doing her best to).  And, they also picked up puzzle peices and asked me to write the letters they started with so they could put the pieces away (a sort of backward take on the game.)  Plus, they did a bit of say-it-fast, say-it-slow Funnix style.

And, so clean up time morphed into a fun learning activity in itself, much like it did one day when we approached cleaning up with fine motor fun.  The Phonics Clean Up Game is one we'll be playing again!

This post is being shared at We Are THAT Family's Works for Me Wednesday and Many Little Blessings Helpful Homeschool Hints, since we hope Phonics Clean Up Time might work as well for other families with young children as it did for us and since keeping spaces tidy is such a huge part of hoemschooling .  It is also being shared at Sunrise Learning Lab's Reggio Wednesday since, although not a Reggio project, the clean-up time came about partly due to my own reflections on our children, their learning and my role as their teacher/facilitator.  (Reflection is an important part of the Role of the Teacher in Reggio-inspired education.)    If you have a moment, please pop on over to both link-ups to be inspired by others' ideas!

1 comment:

Angie @ Many Little Blessings said...

Great phonics activity! I'll have to try that with my daughter who is a beginning reader.


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