Playing with word families

Daisy has been telling me how she can spell 'bat' and 'cat' for a few weeks now so I thought it was time for some focused word family play. We started with Hands on Learning Word Family Mats and I limited the exploration to two word families 'at' and 'in'. I also limited the number of initial letters to give her success in word building

'Cat' was the first word and was proudly written down.

The word 'sat' proved more difficult. As I explained in light table colour bags a few weeks ago, Daisy was inverting her 's's. She is more aware and thinks before writing an 's' now but was still struggling so I quickly drew a big reminder for her finger to run along. I believe it is important to correct her kin-aesthetic memory now, rather than bad habits becoming embedded. The big 's' helped and eased her frustration.

After writing 'sat' Daisy remembered 'Bat' and wrote it eagerly. It gave me the opportunity to talk about the two finger space needed between words.

She made a few more words and started to lose interest... time to get active!

These write-on wipe-off dice have been in the back of my mind for a while. I occasionally look at them and think..... what a great idea but would they work?

I labelled the red dice with 'at' and 'in' and labelled the blue dice with the letters t, p, s and b so the initial letters would work with either word family (at or in).

Underlining the letters made it easier to read and orientate. As you can see the 'at' in the picture rubbed off slightly. This is because at this point we were throwing with some force on the carpets and hitting obstacles. I explained to Daisy the need for holding only the coloured edges and this system worked well. Using a box or a three sided box, would work well in the classroom to keep the die contained.

Throwing the dice made word making instantly fun again. I love the dice!

We took turns throwing and then reading the words we made.

To add interest Daisy suggested we aim between legs. The great idea had us jumping to block the dice. Fine motor, gross motor and word building all combined to make an activity that did not seem to get tiring for a 4 year old!

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