Are you looking for some fun beach-themed activities to reinforce beginning phonics and reading skills? I’m excited today to share a letter sound and sand-writing activity using seashells as well as an activity writing words in the sand! Both of these are from a fabulous new kids’ activities book by Amanda Boyarshinov & Kim Vij.
Disclosure: I received a copy of 100 FUN & EASY LEARNING GAMES FOR KIDS from the publisher. This post contains affiliate links (at no cost to you).
100 FUN & EASY LEARNING GAMES FOR KIDS
100 Fun & Easy Learning Games for Kids: Teach Reading, Writing, Math and More With Fun Activities by Amanda Boyarshinov & Kim Vij just became available this week! Amanda and Kim are both certified teachers and amazing bloggers from the site The Educators’ Spin On It. Just like the title says, the book has 100 fun and easy learning games (for kids ages 3-7). But each game also lists 3 variations, tripling the learning fun.
As a Montessorian, I appreciate that most of the activities are very Montessori friendly. There are lots of creative hands-on activities that can easily be used for activity trays. And most of the activities use everyday household items … perfect for incorporating learning activities into your home. The activities are also eco-friendly and typically very easy to prepare.
Montessori-Inspired Letters in the Sand
This activity was a variation for younger kids listed in the “Words in the Sand” activity. I just added a bit of Montessori inspiration.
Materials Used for Letters in the Sand
- Montessori Sandpaper Letters (can be DIY tactile letters)
- container for letters
- seashells (Even though I live in San Diego, I don’t go to the beach early enough to collect seashells. And I wanted to make a complete seashell movable alphabet, so I ordered one pound of natural clamrose seashells (approximately 300 seashells). They were reasonably priced, arrived quickly, and were perfect for what I needed. I’ll be able to use them for many activities in addition to my complete DIY movable alphabet.
- The wooden tray from the Melissa & Doug Lace and Trace Shapes fits perfectly inside one of the trays from the Multicraft tray set. You can use whatever trays or containers work best for you, though.
- red and blue ultra-fine point Sharpie permanent markers for writing letters on the shells (red for consonants and blue for vowels as in the Montessori movable alphabet)
- sand (I sterilized sand from outdoors by baking it for 30 minutes at 200F, but you can also buy sand on Amazon.)
How to Prepare and Use Letters in the Sand
There are a number of ways to make and use this activity. I simply wrote a letter on each seashell and placed the letters I wanted to introduce in a basket. I used the Melissa & Doug tray for the seashells and sand writing. This activity could be on a shelf or at a table as an invitation to letter sounds.
Introduce the number of letter sounds your child is ready for. Generally, you’ll want to use 3 letter sounds or one group of letter sounds. I recommend using the order (or similar one) and pronunciations recommended in my post with YouTube video “Teach Letter Sounds to Your Child Using Montessori Principles.”
For my 2½-year-old granddaughter, Zoey, I wanted to reinforce the first group of letter sounds introduced in many Montessori schools: s, m, t, a, p, f, c. Zoey’s comfortable with most of the letter sounds already, and this was a fun way to reinforce the concept. I laid out the sandpaper letters, and Zoey matched each of the shells to the matching sandpaper letter. She said each of the letter sounds as she matched it. You could use this with the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd period of the 3-period lesson, depending on which is best for your child.
Then I wrote one of the letters (“c”) in the sand, traced the letter while saying the letter sound /c/, and let Zoey trace the letter after me. For an older child, you could have your child write the letter in the sand independently.
Then I let Zoey work with the activity on her own. She loved this activity. The small shells and sand were especially appealing to her, and she had fun placing each one in the sand tray, putting them back on the sandpaper letters, putting them back in the sand, putting them back on the sandpaper letters…. She spent a lot of time with the activity, so it was definitely a success!
Words in the Sand
If you have children ready for reading and spelling, try the “words in the sand” activity. You could use phonetic words or sight words (puzzle words), depending on what your child needs to work on.
The following activity has been reprinted with permission from the publisher from the book 100 FUN & EASY LEARNING GAMES FOR KIDS.
Words in the Sand
Find hidden words on seashells in the sand to encourage your child to learn to read. Players quickly memorize each word by writing it into the sand in a texture-rich experience. This multi-sensory game helps to engage children’s senses as they learn their sight words.
Focus Skill: identifying and writing sight words
- Permanent black marker
- 2 plastic containers or trays
Directions to Make
- Write sight words onto seashells.
- Place the seashells in one container.
- Place sand in the second container or tray.
Directions to Play
- Players take turns pulling seashells from the container.
- Once they’ve selected them, players identify the word and write it in the sand container.
- Continue to play until all the word seashells are discovered and written in the sand.
Create letters in the sand for younger players to discover and write.
Form words from letter shells in the sand and write them in the sand container.
Write numbers on the shells for players to discover and write.
For more information about the book see 100 Fun and Easy Learning Games at The Educators’ Spin On It.
This is an awesome book for parents and educators of children ages 3-7 (with many of the activities great for 2 year olds as well). Be sure to check it out!
Learn more about Montessori at Home or School: How to Teach Grace and Courtesy!
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