I’m always trying to think of learning activities to do with my kids….ones that they will enjoy but that will also be educational!
My most recent activity has been sorting. This is great for all ages because you can differentiate it based on the child’s age. You can sort pictures, letters or words. Here are a few ideas for what I do with my little guys.
I have my three year old sort pictures based on beginning sounds. I pick one sound that I know he knows (like the first sound in his name) and then pick one or two other sounds and have him sort pictures based on the beginning sound. I pick 15-20 pictures and I write down each beginning letter on a post it note. Then I have him say each picture (i.e. mouse) and then ask him which pile it should go into (M, B or T). I model this for him several times and then have him help me a few times before I have him do it on his own. If he struggles, I jump right in to help. The point is not to test him, but to let him practice, gain confidence and then independence.
I also do this with my three year old. You can sort letters based on characteristics (i.e. letters with balls (b or o), letters with sticks (t or f), or letters with slants (k or x). I also do a sort where I type out the lower case and capital letters and print them on one sheet. I use excel so they print off in a grid. Then I cut them up and put them into a pile. I have him say each letter, what sound it makes and have him sort them by matching the uppercase and lowercase letters. I also help out when needed and I first model it so he knows what to do. If you think all 26 letters might be too much at first, start with 10 or 12.
I do word sorts with my five year old. I type out words into an excel grid based on whatever sounds I want him to learn. Currently we are doing long vs. short vowels. He knows all the short vowels already so I’ve moved him onto differentiating the long and short. You could do things like short vowel sorts using words that contain short “a” and “short “e” for example. I would only do two sounds at once since it can get confusing and cumbersome to have too many things going on at once.
The thing to remember about sorts is to revisit them again and again! The first few times, the child is just getting used to the activity itself and how the process works. But once he has the process figured out, then you’ll want to do the same sort again and again so that he gains confidence and really learns the sounds that you are working with.
The other fun thing to do is to do an open sort. Give your child several pictures or words and have them say the word/picture and let them sort the pictures or words however they see fit. It can be really fun for kids to do this and they are so creative! Again, model how this can work and then let them go. Make sure to teach them that they have to justify their sort and explain it to you if you can’t figure it out. Some ideas for sorting: beginning sound, number of letters in the word, ABC order (much more advanced skill), vowel sounds, meaning of the words, patterns in the words, etc.