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Winter Phonics Fun!

As the seasons transition it is appropriate for children to consider the changes that occur and what that means for them. They can learn to observe their environment in a meaningful way and make connections about how they can keep safe through the seasons. For example, wearing sun cream and staying hydrated in summer, and wrapping up warm for winter.

By considering their surroundings children can gain a deeper understanding of the world around them. They can also learn to anticipate certain events associated with seasons, such as Halloween, Christmas, Easter and their Birthday, growing more aware of time and how it advances.

This activity encourages children to identify winter items, while simultaneously working on phonics and literary awareness. Older children are likely to be more involved in this activity, but it can also be introduced to younger children, familiarising them with letters and letter sounds.

Example of activity

It has the multiple benefits of being easy to create and linking to many areas of the EYFS Development Matters. Just a few items are needed to make this activity which can also be altered depending on what resources might be available.

Follow our simple step-by-step guide to have a go at this activity today:

What you will need:

  • Paper
  • A pen
  • Seasonal winter items or pictures* of them (such as a woolly hat, scarf, gloves, wellies, coat, snowman, etc)

*If pictures are used, these can be laminated for repeated use, reducing paper waste.

Photographer: Mara Ket | Source: Unsplash

Preparing the activity:

  1. Predetermine which letters you would like to work on, for this example we will go with ‘s’, ‘g’, ‘w’, ‘c’, and ‘h’.
  2. Write the out each letter on to separate pieces of paper (in lower case).
  3. Gather up a variety of items (or pictures of them) that all begin with one of these letters-try to get a good variety, rather than all of them starting with the same letter. Ideally enough for one per child.

For the example, if 10 children were taking part, we would find a ‘scarf’, a ‘snowman’, ‘socks’, ‘gloves’, a ‘gingerbread man’, ‘wellies’, a ‘coat’, a ‘Christmas tree’, a ‘hat’, and ‘hot chocolate (printable PDF of images available here).

Doing the activity:

Ask the children to sit in a circle and in the middle of the circle on the floor, place the pieces of paper with the letters on one side, and the items (or pictures) on the other side, arranging them in an appealing way. Explain to the children that the aim of the game is to match the items/pictures to the right letters.

Example of activity

One at a time they will pick an item/picture at random off the floor, identify what it is, and discuss its properties and uses while showing it to their friends. Encourage them to think about what sound the items it starts with, and then place it on the corresponding letter. So if they chose a ‘scarf’ they would sound out the ‘sss’ sound and place it on the letter ‘s’.

Support each child to have a turn, going around the circle, one at a time. By taking turns children can develop their focus and attention skills by listening to what others say. They will also be learning how to be patient, becoming familiar with similar processes they will take part in when they start school. Encourage children to offer help if someone is struggling with their item or letter, this enables children to grow a sense of teamwork and assisting others.

Allow each child to have their turn, and if an extended activity is needed, ask the children to independently search their environment for other items beginning with these letters. This does not have to be an item the children can hold they might notice ‘grass’ through the window for instance.

Jolly Phonics

If ‘Jolly Phonics’ are used within the setting, then singing the songs when the letter is recognised is also recommended.

Tracking the activity:

30-50 months

Personal, Social and Emotional Development: Managing feelings and behaviour- Begins to accept the needs of others and can take turns and share resources, sometimes with support from others.

Communication and Language: Listening and attention- Listens to others one to one or in small groups, when conversation interests them.

Literacy: Reading- Shows awareness of rhyme and alliteration.

40-60 months

Communication and Language: Listening and attention- Maintains attention, concentrates and sits quietly during appropriate activity.

Communication and Language: Understanding- Listens and responds to ideas expressed by others in conversation or discussion.

Literacy: Reading- Links sounds to letters, naming and sounding the letters of the alphabet.

Literacy: Writing- Hears and says the initial sound in words.