Gin and phonics anyone? Stay sane and try these three games with your little learner.
Updated: Feb 22
In no way do I profess to be any kind of trained educator, or any kind of perfect home schooling mum.
It certainly doesn't come easily in our house and if I'm honest we probably manage two hrs max on any given home schooling day.
I have however managed to engage my feisty yet fickle five year old boy with some learning games and I thought it might be useful to share a couple of these ideas in the hope they may help anyone out there losing the enthusiasm - or the will to live - for home schooling younger children!
1. Word Stew
This game is a version of something a friend sent me as a screenshot from the Five Minute Mum book. She has so many fab games, many for younger children. I have adapted her 'Letter Soup' game into my own version. And because Arthur is so competitive, our stew game has its own points system!
Grab two pieces of paper, and on them make three columns, one ‘Sh’ one ‘Ch’ and one ‘Th’ – these can be adapted for whichever digraphs you want to practice. Each digraph has a number of point associated with it, e.g. ‘Sh’ = 1 point, ‘Ch’ = 2 points, ‘Th’ = 3 points.
Grab a big bowl and big spoon or ladle. In the bowl, you have lots of little pieces of paper folded up like a lucky dip. Each piece of paper has a word ending written on it – something that can end one or more of the diagraphs you’re working on.
Each ‘player’ has to stir up the word stew with the ladle and make up a really cheesy funny song like “ooohh word stew…. I wonder what flavour I’ll get today…will it be pirate stew…will it taste like squid or socks?!” etc – make it as fun as possible!
When the player pulls out the word ending, they then have to match to a diagraph, write out the word in their column and then they can claim the number of points associated with that digraph.
It takes a little preparation, but this game is perfect for adapting to the level your little one is at and the role play element can make it seem like a really fun and engaging activity.
2. Tricky Word Treasure Hunt
This one keeps things active and gets the child involved in game preparation, inevitably making them more invested in the actual learning element.
Together, make a map of your house and/or garden and get them to label each room/area with your help.
Decide on ten tricky words and help them to write them on pieces of paper. They could also decorate these to prolong the game – we've used dinosaur stickers on ours!
Now is the fun bit – go around hiding each word with your child and help them mark on the map loosely where each is hidden.
We've used daddy as our hunter for this game but it could certainly be adapted to have the child as the hunter with help from a parent.
In order to make him feel important as the ‘judge’, I wrote all the tricky words on a piece of paper and gave Arthur the job of ticking off every word that daddy found, needing him to recognise the words written down.
This game went down a storm in our house and we have played several times now. You could even really role play the pirate element here and dress up, or why not add a chocolate treat or sweet somewhere along the line if it is the child doing the hunting!
3. Mummy’s fridge quiz
I am constantly being asked for food – seriously, ALL day long! So I decided to take advantage this by making Arthur have to work for his snacks …… and along comes ‘Mummy’s fridge quiz’!
Stick single letters / words / captions / phrases etc you want them to read onto the fridge door with white tack and choose one or two for them to read before every snack.
I’ve been trying out single words practicing phase 2 and 3 phonics sounds, and also writing out some questions like “Can a man kiss a frog?” and “Will a dog fit in a sock?” – it’s a challenge reading them out and answering them but it also gets a laugh at the same time!
I’ve recently discovered Phonics Dice and think they are an ingenious idea!
It’s as simple as little wooden dice blocks with sounds on each side that enable you to play sounds and letter recognition games with your little ones.
You can purchase them in phonics phases and play games with them like letter formation and 'I spy' etc.
Our favourite at the moment is ‘roll and find’. We roll the dice and then try and find something involving that sound around the house. Of course, I like to introduce a competitive element too, with points awarded for the best haul at the end!
Find out more @phonicsdice on Instagram