Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Letter eating robot

To help your child become familiar with letters and stay away from the dull method of repeating flash cards, turn an old shoe box into a letter eating robot!
'Metal Mike', to give him his real name was used a lot during my time working with reception/kindergarten children and the children seemed to enjoy playing with him.
You can download the Metal Mike mask from Sparklebox or if you are creative draw your own. 
In Great Britain we use the Dfes Letters and Sounds Document within State schools and the private sector, as a tool to help learn phonics through exciting and fun activities. You can find lots of similar activities on their website featured above.

Metal Mike ready for his alphabet lunch

Who can play?
Children aged two years plus, depending on their age and stage of development. At first they can just experiment looking at the letters and posting them. As they grow older and skills increase they will begin to name the letters.

Supervise children at all times.

What do you need?

  • Shoe box
  • Glue
  • Cello tape
  • Scissors
  • Metal Mike print out or pens and paper to draw your own.
  • Letter flash cards or letters wrote on card. You could even use magnetic letters
What did we do?
To prep the activity I downloaded the Metal Mike picture from the website Sparklebox UK. I would like to keep this for a long time, so I chose to laminate it, however it will work just as well if you cut it out and glue it onto the front of the box. I then proceeded to cut out a small rectangle where his mouth was so that Bee can post her letters through.

To make sure we have access to the letters once they have been posted through his moth, I cut the lid of the box in half and cello-taped it to the back of the box.

The back of the box

Now for the fun part...playing with the letter eating robot.
First of all I told Bee that Metal Mike was really hungry and all that he fancied eating today was letters. Bee laughed and said "OK mummy, I can help him" Picking up the letters that she recognised, she began saying their names and posting them in his mouth. After each letter she would say "Is that yum Metal Mike?" I would reply in a robot voice "Th-a-t was y-u-m!" introducing word segmenting.
We went over the letters she was unsure of and posted them together whilst making eating noises when the letters went in.

This activity led us into talking about words that begin with certain letters such as c for cat. As we posted in the letter c we would say "c-a-t" I also introduced the use of robot arms when segmenting the words (moving your arms up and down alternatively when saying a letter in the word). This is used as a visual tool to help the child recognise the individual letters.

Metal Mike and his letters were placed on the shelf in Bee's playroom, for further child initiated play.

What did we learn?
  • Communication and language-Speaking and listening. Talking like a robot, adjusting the way she talks and segmenting and blending words
  • Physical development- Fine manipulative skills when picking up and posting letters. Large manipulative when making robot arms. Coordination and hand eye development.
  • Personal, social and emotional- Making relationships, social skills, learning about feelings,fun and enjoyment and taking turns
  • Literacy- Linking sounds to letters, learning how to read and letter recognition
  • Mathematics- Space, measurement and capacity. 
  • Understanding of the world- Talking about robots and how they work
  • Expressive arts and design- Pretending to be a robot and becoming involved in role play.
What could be done next?

  • Use the Metal Mike cut out as a mask. Your child could hold it up to their face and blend/segment. 
  • Introduce a guessing game, for example what is Metal Mike spelling.
  • Instead of using letters, you could use colours, numbers and shapes, depending on which one you think your child will enjoy the most.
  • To encourage writing skills you could leave paper and pencils next to the robot, to provide an opportunity for your child to either write a letter for him or draw a picture.

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