Many of the individuals I work with are emergent readers.  We work a lot on letters and letter sounds.  Teachers, parents, and I often use this section from the Bridge Rating Scale with our emergent readers to see what areas of alphabet and phonological/phonemic awareness we need to work on.

Here are the top five toys that I use the most when working on alphabet knowledge and some phonological/ phonemic awareness skills.

  1. Leap Frog Fridge Phonics Magnetic Letter Set                                                                               This is definitely my favorite and most used alphabet awareness toy!  I feel like you can use it so many ways.  I often grab it on the fly and turn it into a mini lesson.  Some ways I’ve used it include:
    1. Hiding the letters in a sensory bin – dig them out, name them, and sing the letter song
    2. Hide and Seek – have a student or staff hide the letters around the room, find them, name them, and sing the letter song
    3. Identify Letters – have a small array (4-6) available and ask students to find a particular letter then sing the letter song
    4. ABC Order – Scramble the letters on a dry erase board, have students help put them back in ABC order, then pick letters and sing the letter song
    5. Word Families – Listen to letter songs for initial consonants of a particular word family, then use the letters to change out the initial sound and make words for a word family
    6. What are your favorite ways to use this toy?                                                
  2. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Tree                                                                                                       So many of the children I work with love this tree!  Sometimes we listen to the song and then name and put the letters on the tree.  Other times, we pause the song or book to find the letters we just heard (from a field of 4-26 depending on the child) and put them on the tree.  And sometimes, we dig letters out of a sensory box, name them, and put them on the tree.  It’s such a simple toy but always seems to be a big hit!
  3. Foam Letters                                                                                                                                           I like to put a piece of magnetic and a hard velcro dot on the back of my foam letters.  This makes them pretty versatile and easy to use in any activity.  One of my students who uses eye gaze has been working on identifying letters.To make it fun, she picks four letters out of a sensory tub and then her staff puts them on her e-tran board (using magnet or velcro) and asks her to identify a particular letter or two.  They sometimes sing the letter song (ex: B, B says buh, every letter makes a sound, B says buh) or her staff models words that start with that letter after she identifies it.  This is another staple in our classrooms because you can use it on the fly to make all sorts of fun mini lessons.
  4. Leap Frog Leaping Letters                                                                                                            This can be a fun way to engage older students in learning letters of the alphabet.  Some of my students love Perfection and this game is just like it, except they need to fill the board with letters of the alphabet instead of shapes! It also comes with a card to make CVC words that can pop on top of the game.
  5. Alphabet Stamps                                                                                                                            My students love to stamp.  Often we just have fun picking letters and making letter collages.  Sometimes we look for specific letters to spell words or just to practice finding certain letters.  How do you like to use alphabet stampers in your classroom? 
    1. Uppercase stampers with knobs
    2. Lowercase stampers with knobs
    3. Uppercase stampers
    4. Lowercase stampers
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