Starting today, with the letter a sound, I’m going to take each letter of the alphabet in turn, and suggest a few fun activities that begin with that particular letter sound. You’ll love these activities for the ‘a’ sound
The Jolly Phonics website sells a book and CD of short, catchy, action songs for each letter of the alphabet at around £10. I love these as they are fun songs that young children enjoy singing over and over and, along with the accompanying actions, a huge help in fixing the sounds in their minds.
If you go to the link above, you can listen to six of the songs, as a sample. They’re not in alphabetical order as Jolly Phonics teaches the sounds in a different order. (The song for ‘a’ is the second one on the video.)
Activities for the letter a sound:
Introduce this sound, as explained in my first post, by holding up a letter card you’ve made and having your child say the sound along with you. Look at your alphabet books together and talk about the things you can see beginning with ‘a’. Repeat the sound a few times as you say the word eg ‘Look, here’s an a-a-a- apple.’ The stuttering repetition at the start of the word will help him pick out the sound from the rest of the word. You can explain that the sound is ‘a’ but we’re saying it several times as a game to help him remember it. Focus on objects that have the short ‘a’ sound such as apple and for now, skip words such as acorn, ape or aeroplane. Next, show your child how to write the sound using one of the activities mentioned in posts 2 and 3. Chant the instructions together: “All the way round, then down, and flick,” as you do them. Then choose from the following activities:
See if you can spot some ants in the park or your garden and spend a few minutes looking at them (with a magnifying glass if possible.) Make an ant from egg box sections and pipe cleaners and sing the Jolly Phonics song ‘a-ants on my arm.’
Do some acting
focusing on words that begin with the letter a sound, ask your child to: pretend to be an acrobat, an alligator, a tiny ant, mime being asleep, then suddenly awake. (Play a game with a glove puppet who is asleep, then awake.) Your child could pretend he’s hurt his ankle and say a-a-a! as he tries to walk. You could pretend to drive an ambulance to come to his rescue. Can he pretend to be a fish in an aquarium? Make an angry face? You join in with the acting too and make the activity lots of fun.
Play at being an astronaut
Look at books/the internet about outer space to spark your child’s interest in astronauts. Then help him make a space helmet out of a big square-shaped paper bag e.g. a big brown paper lunch bag/take-away food bag, or a light coloured gift bag. (Turn it upside down, remove the handles, cut a big circle in the front for his face and provide an assortment of self adhesive silver and gold stars for decoration.)
If you have some tiny figures (like Lego men) you could extend the astronaut theme into small world play by placing the figures in a deep-sided plastic tray e.g. a cat litter tray, along with some moon sand to act as the surface of a fantasy planet. (You can make your own moon sand using 4 cups of flour and half a cup of baby oil.) Heap the flour in the middle of your tray, make a well in the centre, add the baby oil to the well, and use a spoon and then your hands to mix it thoroughly. Place a plastic table cloth under the tray so you can easily pick up any spills. If you collect some tiny containers like mini yoghurt pots, cheesy dipper pots or those tiny plastic containers of milk that some cafes supply with their drinks, you can build miniature sand-castles to act as buildings on the planet’s surface.
Make some animal biscuits
For this activity you need a set of animal biscuit cutters. The recipe makes about 25 biscuits. (Note: The mixture needs to spend an hour in the fridge before you roll it out and use it.)
100g of butter
100g of castor sugar
I egg (beaten)
225g of plain flour,
2 level teaspoons of baking powder,
A quarter of a level teaspoon of salt,
I teaspoon of vanilla essence.
- Lightly grease a couple of baking trays.
- Using a wooden spoon, cream the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl.
- Gradually add the beaten egg and vanilla essence.
- Sift the flour into the mixture, along with the salt and baking powder and stir with a metal spoon.
- Knead the mixture lightly in the bowl, then wrap it in greaseproof paper and leave in the fridge for an hour.
- Roll out on a floured pastry board, cut out animal shapes with the biscuit cutters, and place the biscuits on the baking trays.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes at 180c or Gas mark 4, and then cool on a wire rack.
Make an aquarium
Help your child paint a paper plate blue. Or use the inside of a cardboard box lid lined with a piece of white paper. When it’s dry, glue on some dried beans or small stones. Set this aside while you help your child draw one or maybe two fish shapes on thin card and colour them (Oil pastel is good for this) Cut them out. Add eyes (we bought ready-made googly eyes from a £1 shop) then stick the fish onto the plate and add some torn tissue paper for weeds. Display alongside your ‘a’ card.
Let’s find some hidden animals
Pop some plastic farm or jungle animals into a feely bag together with few random non-animal objects along with them. Ask your child to push his hand into the bag and without peeping, pull out just the animals. Prop up your ‘a’ card nearby and have him place the animals beside it as he pulls them out. Remind him of the sound you’re focusing on: ‘And here’s another a-a-a-a animal.’
Cut an apple in half. Place some paper towel into a small plastic food tray and cover with a bright coloured ready mixed paint to make a stamp pad. Show your child how to print on a big sheet of white paper with one half of the apple. If you cut the apple in half vertically you get a recognisable apple shape whereas if you cut it horizontally you get a star shape in the middle. The apple skins can be slippery so maybe cut small indentations into each side of the apple halves to make handles for your child to grip. You could then make up another stamp pad in a contrasting colour and print a second colour on the same sheet of paper with the other half of your apple.
If you liked this, you might enjoy these other posts by Accidental Hipster Teacher about teaching your child to read and write.