- Plastic Bin
- Water (it's easier to fill outside if you have a hose)
- Foam Bath Letters
- Net and/or Skimmer
- Other Bath Toys
- Outfit that can get wet
Now for the fun
- Fill the bin no more than half full of water. You can let your child explore just the water if you have a younger one.
- Show your child the letters and say the sound or name for each letter as you place them into the bin. I would only focus on 3-5 at a time.
- Have your child try to identify each letter. Either by you saying the letter and they grab them or have them pick one up and tell you.
- Add in a scooping motion. Show them how to scoop the letters up with either the net or skimmer and then repeat #3 but having them scoop instead of pick up.
- After you are done - about 10 minutes for toddlers, 15-20 for preschool, more for elementary age - let them play!
My daughter's favorite was putting the mulch in the water then rocks and fishing around for the rock in the dirty water.
This is a simple activity to also do at bath time. It takes no prep and you are reinforcing letters and their sounds.
- I tend to teach the letter sound rather than the letter name. So we teach 'buh' is letter B. And 'mmm' is letter M. We also associate a word with each, a word that she is familiar with. So when I ask my daughter what D is by pointing to the letter, she will tell me, "duh, dada".
- Knowing a letter sound is so much more important than knowing the letter name, that will come in time. But when children are learning to read, they are not sounding out the name of the letters, they are using the sound the letter makes - CAT "cuh-ahh-tuh" Letter naming comes in handy for spelling in the future, not learning to read.
- When beginning to learn letters, we teach the letters that my daughter knows words for and uses often. When she started saying 'Baby' we started teaching B. Mama - M. And so on. We do not teach the traditional alphabet and will not teach it in a certain order. The alphabet as a whole is much more important.
For Infants: Letting them play in the water is learning enough! Give them the foam letters to play with in the water or chew on. When you do give it to them, keep talking with them and telling them the letter and telling them words that go with that letter.
For Toddlers: Start teaching them the letter sounds as you give the letters to them. Try this activity with them, you may be impressed with what they absorb. Use letters for words they are already familiar with hearing and saying.
For Preschool: If you are focusing on a specific letter, use that letter. Tell them a word and having them get you the first letter. Have them scoop up a letter and say the letter or sound when they give it to you.
For Elementary: If they are still learning letter recognition, the letter scooping game would be fine for either the toddler or preschool modification. If they are starting to spell words or working on sight words, you can place the letters they will need in the bin and have them put the letters in order.
For older elementary children, you can play a 'boggle' type game. Put letters in and whatever letters they scoop out, they have to spell at least one word with. Put them back in and start over. You can make this as easy (3 letter words) or hard (minimum 5 letter words) as you would like.
Have fun playing outside in the water!