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       Building Blocks to Reading

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Extracted from "Building Blocks to Reading, Activities by the Letter, Book I
All material copyrighted 1995 Karen M. Potter red line

       Activities by the Letter

Activity A. Apple stamping is a lot of fun! Cut an apple in half. Then on the cut surface carve out the shape of the letter "A". Have your child stamp the letter on a sheet of paper and say the short "A" sound each time they stamp.

Activity B. Explore "backwards". Try a backwards day. What can you wear backwards? You can wear a hat, shirt, or pants backward. What else can be worn backwards? Can shoes be worn backwards? What are some reasons we don't spend our lives walking backwards? What would life be like if we had to walk backward?

Activity C. Counting coins is always fun! Get a small handful of mixed coins, pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. On a sheet of paper make a rubbing of each type of coin across the bottom of the page. Then, pick a coin from your pile. Decide which coin it is like. Then trace around that coin making a column of the same types of coins. Do this for all the coins. When you are done you will have a graph showing how many of each kind of coin was in your original handful. Next, you can examine the results of your work. How many of each kind of coin did you have? Which kind did you have the most of, and which the least? Did you have the same of any two kinds? How many more of one did you have compared to another? How many fewer of one than another?

Activity D. Make a drum. Any food container with a plastic lid will work . You can use margarine tubs, coffee cans, or drink mix canisters. Wrap brightly colored construction paper around your drum and glue into place. Your child can decorate the drum with buttons, paper scraps, yarn, and other miscellaneous craft materials. Use a permanent marker to write both an upper and lower case d on the plastic lid. Use pencils as drum sticks and as your child beats his drum he should say "d, d, d, d, d." It might also be fun to turn on your child's favorite tape and beat along with the music.

Activity E. Make enormous elephant ears. Using three or four sheets of gray construction paper make a hat with enormous elephant ears. First use one or two sheets to make the head band. Fold the paper in half the long way a couple of times to make it stronger. Measure the hat size on the child's head. Staple to secure the hat band in place. Use an entire sheet for each of two fan shaped elephant ears. Attach them to the side of the hat band.

Expand to a large muscle skill movement game. Have your children put their hands in front of their face like an elephants trunk. Start the game with a simple elephant walk. Then go through the elephant's day. Have the children stretch and do what elephants do. Stretch and pick leaves from high in the trees or grass from down low on the ground. Try having your elephants hold trunks or try an elephant hug. Your imagination is the only limit to this pretend game.

Activity F. Trace around a parent's hand and around a child's hand. Let the child color the hands. Either on the hands or on a separate piece of paper write the words, "Friends forever!", and/or any other message the child may want to send. Cut out the hands and messages then use yarn to fasten them together. This makes a great gift!

Activity G. Cut a ghost shape out of green construction paper. Draw a goofy face on the ghost. Then use green glue to put green glue glasses on the ghost. Write the letter "G" on the ghost. Use both upper and lower case letters. You now have a "goofy green ghost wearing green glue glasses".

Activity H. Use red construction paper and cut out a heart shape. On the heart print both an upper and lower case "H". Let your child cut the heart into several pieces. Then you will have a heart puzzle to put together. The pieces can be stored in an envelope at your reading or writing center.

Activity I. Make an igloo. What is an igloo? What is it made of? What is ice? Ask your child these type of leading questions. Find out how much your child knows and then expand their knowledge. Use blue and white paper to construct an igloo. Cut or tear the white paper into squares or rectangles. Arrange the squares and rectangles in the shape of a dome on the blue paper. Then glue the pieces into place one at a time. Your child may wish to decorate their picture with canyons and paint to show other things that they learned about igloos. Write your child's description of their picture on the bottom of the page.

Activity J. Get out your jump ropes and play in the traditional ways. Then help your child to lay the jump rope on the ground in the shape of a "J". Start at the top where you would start if you were writing the J and jump along the "J". With each jump say the letter sound. When each child gets to the end he should walk around to the top for another turn.

Activity K. Kangaroo hop. Before you can hop like a kangaroo you must know what a kangaroo is like. Ask questions about the kangaroo and then build on your child's knowledge. The Kangaroo comes from Australia and in the united States can only be seen in the zoo. Kangaroos have large back legs that they use to make long hops. How far can your child hop? How far can you hop? Who hopped the farthest? Who has bigger legs? Is it possible that there is a relation between the size of the legs and how far you can hop? Does this mean that as we grow we can hop farther?

Activity L. Children make great lazy lumps on logs. This is a wonderful outdoor activity. I love to do this on a nice summer day or in the winter when you need a fast moving outdoor activity. Find a nice grassy area or an area of soft new snow. Have your child lie down with his arms by his side and roll like a log. What kind of a pattern do their shoulders make? Pretend you are on a gentle hill, then a steep hill. How does a log roll in each case? Can the children understand that a log will roll faster on a steeper hill? You may wish to cut a small twig and place it in a box at different angles to see when the twig starts to roll and when it rolls the fastest.

Activity M. "M" for mountain. Choose a fun kind of paper. Construction paper is a good choice, but do not limit yourself. You and your child may want to pick neon colored or textured paper. Pick two colors one for the sky and one for the mountains. On the paper for the mountains tell your child he will draw two tall mountain peaks that will make the letter "M". Demonstrate the shape. As you show your child how to make the monstrous mountainous "M" say 'One line up. One line down. Then another line up and another line down. That makes the letter "M." Your "M" should be almost as wide as the paper. When you child has his "M" cut out, glue it to the bottom of the sky paper. Spend a few minutes running fingers up and down and up and down the "M". Run your fingers in the direction that you would write a "M" As fingers are ran over the "M" make the "M" sound. Try not to stutter the "M" sound instead make the sound a constant humming "M" sound.

Activity N. Penny-nickel game. The object is to get all the nickels you can. You will need a handful of nickels, six pennies for each player, and one die. Explain that five pennies are the same as one nickel. It may be necessary to draw a picture of this concept and place it in front of your child. To make this picture trace five pennies and color them brown. Then, trace a nickel and color it gray, silver, or leave it white. Put an equal sign between the two and explain that this means "the same as" or "is equal to". To play -- role the die and take the same number of pennies as the number you role. Each player counts his pennies as he places them on his money picture. When a player gets enough pennies to trade for a nickel he must trade he pennies in that turn. Make the game more challenging by adding dimes, then quarters as your child's understanding of money increases. To keep an older child on his toes you can add more rules. For example, you could add the rule, if you forget to trade and are caught with five or more pennies you lose all the coins not traded. Once you trade for the highest coin in the game you can't loose that coin. However you play remember to keep it fun!

Activity O. Make an octopus. Cut out or draw pictures of things that start with the letter "O". Cut a circle out of construction paper. Glue eight pipe cleaners to the back of the circle to make legs. Then glue the back of the circle to background sheet of construction paper. Glue the "O" pictures to the end of the pipe cleaner legs. Twist and arrange the legs as desired.

Activity P. Make popcorn. Call your child into an area where they can hear the corn pop. Each time he hears a pop your child should hop like corn popping and say "pop". I like to do this when there are several children around. It is really fun to watch several children popping all around the room. You may want to write the word pop on a piece of cardstock and have the children hold their pop sign high in the air each time they say the word "pop".

Activity Q. Quiet questions and answers! Who can be quiet the longest? This is a game that has been played by parents and children for many years. In this game you are allowed to ask and answer questions. However, before you can ask a question or give an answer you must say "Q and U together say qu." If you forget, you loose a turn. There are no winners or losers in this game just parents and children having a good time.

Activity R. Make red rubbings. Write the words "red rubbings" at the top of a page. Then collect things from around the house that are flat and place them under the paper. Rub with the side of a red crayon on top of the paper. This process will create a red image of the object. Suggested objects for red rubbings are stencils of the letter r, road (use the sidewalk and pretend it's a road), rice, or maybe a ruler. This would also be a good day to ride bikes and trikes on a pretend road.

Activity S. What sinks and what floats? Fill a sink or small tub with only a few inches of water. (Do not leave children unattended as even an inch of water can be dangerous or at least make a mess.) Collect different objects from around the house and place them one at a time in to the water. What sinks and what floats? Why do you think that this happened? You may want to draw a picture of each object, next to it write the name of the object, and if it sinks or floats. Then give your child a piece of paper with a line down the center. On one side write "sinks" and on the other write "floats." Have your child draw pictures of what sinks and what floats.

Activity T. Telling true time is very difficult for young children. Relative time however, is a concept that can be fun to explore. Look through magazines and flyers with your child and cut out pictures of things that we do at different times of the day. Examples are eating different meals, going to bed, getting dressed in the morning, saying prayers by the bed, watching TV, going to work, or going to school. On a long sheet or role of paper draw a morning sun on the left and the night moon on the right. Work together with your child to arrange the pictures from morning to night. There is no absolute right or wrong. Talk about and reason what might be next. When your child is happy with the order of things, one at a time glue the pictures on the paper. Display the paper on a wall or door where every one can see the hard worked that was done.

Activity U. What does the pre-fix "un-" mean? Have an undo day. Gather dolls and different kinds of clothes that have different kinds of fasteners. You will want samples of things that tie, buckle, button, snap, zip, Velcro, and any other kind of fasteners that you can find. Place these things in an area of easy access along with any dressed dolls you may have. Then after discussing "un-" and talking about all the thing you can undo, it is time to undo everything? Have fun with your child and help only when needed.

Activity V. Make a vase with violets. You will need crayons or markers and two sheets of construction paper. One sheet will need to be violet and the second, a background color like blue, brown, or white. Cut the violet paper in half.

Use one half to make the vase. Fold the half of violet paper in half cut a shape out around the fold line. when you open the shape you will have a symmetric vase. Glue the vase on the bottom half of your background sheet.

Use the other half of the violet construction paper to make the violets. Cut out circular shapes. The shapes don't have to be perfect or the same size. Then on the top half of your background sheet glue four or five circles in a group. Try to get the circles to overlap. The circles make your petals and several together form your flowers(violets). Use crayons to make stems and leaves as desired.

Activity W. Make a wishing well. Use any kind of empty food canister that does not have sharp edges. Wrap it with construction paper and write several upper and lower case w's around its side. Tape two pencils or craft sticks standing up inside the canister for roof supports. Cut a square piece of paper, fold it in half and glue it to the roof supports. This wishing well makes a good bank for spare change.

Activity X. How do x-rays help us? Pay a visit to a health care professional. Most doctors, dentists, nurses or veterinarians like to teach children about their jobs. Not only does it take some of the fear out of your child's next doctor or dentist appointment but it is good business for the doctor. It is better to go as a group. It is more efficient to give a tour to ten children than to one. If you have a daycare or play-group you may even find a health care provider who will be willing to come and visit your group. Tell them why you want to visit and that you are hoping the children will learn about x-rays.

Activity Y. Investigate yaks. Then make yellow yak hats. Ask your child what they know about yaks. You may have to ask more leading questions with younger children. Is a yak an animal or plant? What is a yak? Where does a yak come from? Once you have an understanding of your child's knowledge you can build on what your child knows? You may wish to write a few questions down and write the answers as you find them.

Making yellow yak hats is fun. Use two sheets of yellow construction paper to make a band around your child's head. Fold the paper in half the long way. Then fold it in half again the same way. Staple the ends of the two folded sheets together so they fit your child's head. This will form a sturdy band. Use yellow construction paper to make the yak horns. I recommend that you and your child sit and play with the construction paper. You may want to draw and cut out a yak horn shape or roll each sheet into a yak horn. Use what ever means necessary to fasten the horns to the band. No matter how you create your yak hat, have fun and let your child know how great he is.

Activity Z. Make zigzag art. You will need paper, marbles, different colors of tempera paint, and a box the size of a sheet of paper. Tape your paper into the bottom of the box. Dip two or three marbles in tempera paint. Drop the marbles onto the paper in the box and move the box around so the marbles roll. Dip the marbles in the paint as often as you want. Enjoy the zigzag patterns, no two will be alike. Be sure to display the children's work.

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I truly hope you and your child use and enjoy these fun learning activitivies. Please email your comments or suggestions.

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