Children love the holidays, so why not tap into their enthusiasm by creating fun, holiday themed, learning activities. The following craft uses Montessori principles, combined with a seasonal motif, to familiarize young readers-to-be with letters and their sounds. This craft can easily be adapted to your own special holiday traditions.
SUPPLIES YOU WILL NEED:
Small boxes from the panty
Printed or drawn letters on colored paper
Treasures! (More on this later)
Together with your child(ren), choose a holiday themed word or words that are meaningful to you. Some of the words my children came up with were: Peace, Joy, Santa, Giving, Family, Peppermint, St. Nick, Elves, Candles, Popcorn, Dradle, Bells, Sleigh, Chocolate and Rudolph. My younger son declared that “Santa” was his choice. So we used 5 boxes, one for each letter. I printed the 5 letters on red and green paper. The boys traced the shape of the appropriate box around each letter, then cut out the letter boxes, and glued them into place.
Now the” treasure hunt” begins. The kids searched the house for small items that begin with the sounds of the letters S,A,N,T and A. The chosen object had to fit into the appropriate box. For example, when one of the boys brought down a shoe for “S,” he tried to fit it into the box, then realized, he would have to choose something else.
This craft is a fun way for kids to learn letter recognition through seeing, hearing, and saying the sounds and names of each letter, then putting them in order to make words. Let the kids connect the letter boxes together with paper clips.
After you have finished the initial project, try rearranging the letter boxes to make other words. Then cover the outside of the boxes with colorful holiday paper and display them as Christmas (or holiday) decorations.
Some additional thoughts from our master teacher Randall Klein:
I love this activity and I want to give parents a heads-up about questions that might arise. A child looking for objects that begin with an “S” might bring a SOCK, which begins with the sound /S/ and he might bring a SHOE, which begins with the sound /SH/. Or a SUGAR CUBE which also begins with a /SH/ sound. That’s the reality of our wonderfully rich and complex English language.
Don’t feel like you have to teach your child all of the phonics rules and exceptions of letters, sounds, spellings, etc. Simply state what you know to be true about each situation.
“Yes, Virginia, CELERY starts with the sound /S/, but it is spelled with the letter “C,” so that won’t go into our “S” box. The letter “C” can say the /S/ sound or the /K/sound. Isn’t that interesting? Let’s keep looking?”
“Yes, Thomas [a first grader who is a beginning reader and speller], SHOE does start with the letters “SH” and makes a /SH/ sound. But we’ll put it in the “S” box because we do spell it with an “S,” like SANTA.”
“Wow, Veronica, SUGAR, is a great choice! It starts with the /SH/ sound and it begins with the letter “S.” Let’s put it in our “S” box.
There may be lots of these kinds of exceptions, contradictions, questions. Don’t fret. Anything you do to create a fun activity that focuses on letters and sounds will stimulate in your child an interest in the alphabet–as well as happy memories of warm holiday traditions.