Here’s a great toy I discovered for teaching phonics to younger pre-school and kindergarten children. It’s a standard “letter truck” by Melissa and Doug toys. But oh, what we can do with it when teaching phonics.
This activity is for after your child knows the sounds of the letters and is ready to blend and substitute phonemes. As you teach blending letters to make word families, such as the “at” family, demonstrate how to go from Cat to Hat, by removing the C and putting in the H.
Now you can use the truck as a game. First, set up a small selection of letters with your child, such as P, C, M, R, F, T, and A.
Ask your child, who should be a few feet away, if he or she can please deliver a “cat” to you on the Magic Word Truck. He loads up C, A, T and zooms it across. “Oh no”, you say, “I didn’t mean a CAT, I meant a HAT.” You send the truck back, and he removes the C and puts in an H, and sends it back to you. “Oh, no”, you say, “I meant a MAT.” And so it goes. The options are endless. You can get a mat for the cat. You can get a hat for the cat. You can even get a Rat and have the Cat scare it away.
When you move to another word family, such as “ig”, you can practice with that one alone, as above. Then when the child is ready, you can mix the two, so your child can send you a Big Cat, or a Fat Pig.
The best part is that it keeps the young ones physically engaged and moving. Movement is the heart of early childhood learning. While I am not really a fan of teaching reading and phonics too early, because of my Waldorf education training, if you are going to do it anyway, at least keep them moving. Enjoy!