This post is by regular contributor Kylie Gardner of Octavia & Vicky.
While we were on holiday recently my four year old daughter, Pebble, watched her Great Nana, Nana and cousin play Scrabble. It made me think about the neglected Scrabble box sitting in our cupboard at home and how we could use the letter tiles for play.
When we got home (sometime after I had tackled the laundry and had several cups of tea) I set up an invitation to play using letter tiles, letter stamps and playdough. I chose to include only the letters that Pebble is most familiar with with some vowels to make it easy for her to make simple words. Pebble is most familiar with the first initials of people in her family and the first initials of words like ‘Mummy’, ‘Daddy’ and ‘Grandma’.
I was ready to give Pebble some time to explore the bits and pieces in her own away but she immediately asked for help to make words. So, that’s what we did! Four year olds need lots of help to make words, while children aged five and older can do this more independently. I asked Pebble about the letters she could see and what sounds they made. We started with ‘D’ for daddy and I suggested we try to make the word ‘dog’.
First I showed her how to stamp the ‘D’ into the playdough then we verbally stretched out the word ‘dog’ together, ‘dooooooooggggggg’. I asked her what sound came next and she said the word again, then shouted, ‘O!’. She quickly hunted for the ‘O’ stamp and pressed it into the playdough next to the ‘D’. Then we stretched the word out again and listened for the final sound. Pebble looked at the letters in front of her and listened to the word, then picked up the ‘G’ and stamped it in to the playdough. I showed Pebble how to find the matching letter tiles and press them into the playdough beneath the stamped word, matching them letter for letter.
This activity provides a great way for children to play with words and letters, and can be made easier or harder depending on the age of children playing. Pressing the letters into the playdough helps to strengthen childrens’ hands for writing, while the hands-on nature of the activity keeps children interested and engaged.
There are lots of different ways to play with these simple materials. Here are just a few to get you started.
Early Literacy Play – Stamp and Spell
You will need:
- Letter stamps
- Scrabble letter tiles
How to play (a few suggestions):
- Create an invitation to play. Set out the playdough, letter stamps and letter tiles and allow your child to choose how to play.
- Match letters one by one. For example, stamp the letter ‘S’, then press in the matching letter tile alongside.
- Stamp and press letters in alphabetical order.
- Make simple words using the stamps and match them using the letter tiles.
- Use the stamps and letter tiles to practice sight words or spelling words.
- Practice making word family collections by stamping the root, eg. ‘-at’ repeatedly then placing letter tiles at the beginning to make words (eg. cat, bat, mat, sat, rat).
- Stamp the beginning and end of a word and fill in the missing letter with a letter tile (eg. stamp ‘c – t’ and stamp the ‘a’ in the middle).
Do you like to play scrabble?