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Watch the OR show! Interactive #phonics #games and activities to play and join in with. Ideal for #homeschooling! H…
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- Tuesday Mar 31 - 3:21pm

Cheap Cheep Phonics!!

Priceless EYFS learning

As Spring is now alive and kicking all around us, The Learning Lady has been working with practitioners to consider the birds now nesting all around us as a valuable stimulus for learning. This free resource has sparked the imagination of little learners. Very quickly The Learning Lady realised that very few of them knew that there are different types of birds which make different sounds; so this was an excellent starting point for some real life learning. Through a range of chirpy and cheap adult led and continuous provision activities, your EYFS class will almost certainly love learning about birds too- so get spotting!

Shhhh We have a plan…..!

Two texts instantly inspired the children from the very beginning. Shhh We have a plan by Chris Haughton (link to book box) was an excellent fictional starting point and was the perfect inspiration to encourage retelling through play outdoors. The children were simply provided with a range of bird finger puppets and some fishing nets from the water play area.



“The humour developed by the EYFS boys as they enacted this story was phenomenal – it had us, and them, laughing all afternoon.”

A second text, The RSPB book My First Book of Garden Birds was an excellent resource to download on Kindle. As an alternative to the traditional, paper based text, it was great to see the confidence with which the children used ICT to support their play and learning which was relatively new to the adults. They were observed taking the Kindle into the bird hide they’d built with the practitioner

“The different texts provided practitioners with an excellent real life opportunity to illustrate the differences between a fiction and non-fiction text and were a real find- and a great hit with the children. Using a non-fiction resource to support the outdoor play in this way was a brilliant way to develop an interest in new words and learning which the practitioners had not expected the children to be immediately as fascinated in as they were. “The learning Lady

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Two Different Dickie Birds – For developing key listening and remembering skills (Phase 1 phonics)


  • 2-3 Singing Birds (we got ours from the local garden centre but they can be bought here from the RSPB.
  • A homemade barrier so that the birds can be hidden from view (see below). Practitioners identified that it was a good idea to decorate the barrier with pictures of the birds as a visual prompt for the children to support memory development.


Explain to the children that as well as looking different, birds also sing different songs. Talk together about why this could be and what the purposes of this singing might be. Try to challenge greater possibility thinking by asking “I wonder why…”, or “Can you think of any ideas…” type of prompts and develop thinking through general discussion.

Introduce the children to the names of the birds which are going to be used for the activity. Play the sounds made by the birds so that the children can become familiar with them. Let the children handle the birds to become aware of the sounds for themselves.

Talk together about the differences in sound. It’s useful at this point to model language like, fast, slow, short, long, high, low, loud, quiet.

Explain that the children and practitioner are going to sing a simple song. As the song is sung, the birds are going to ‘fly away behind the barrier’ so that the children cannot see them. Practise singing the song together before the game begins.

Sung to the tune of Tommy Thumb

“Here are birds, one and two,

Fly away.

Listen now, listen now

What will they say?”

Once the birds have ‘flown away’ behind the barrier, encourage the children to listen very carefully and then play the bird song of one of the birds. Can the children guess which bird is being played? Can hey children explain why and how they know which bird this is? Can the children use the name of the bird introduced and use some of the descriptive vocabulary modelled by the practitioner?

Demonstrate the answer to the children. Reiterate the name of the bird and describe its song again (if needed). Repeat this game with the group playing different bird songs, adding more birds or even playing more than one bird at a time for an extra challenge.

‘This was a popular game once added to the continuous provision- particularly with those keen to ‘play teacher and hide the birds themselves! A valuable exercise in turn taking too!”

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Noisy eggs- A Listening and remembering snap game- with a difference!


  • Plastic Eggs (we bought our from a £1 shop but these are widely available on the internet
  • Items to make different sounds. For example; old coins, washers / screws, rice, lentils, dry sand, pasta, bells.


Explain that the children are going to make two noisy eggs each by adding the same items to 2 plastic eggs. Support them in making two ‘noisy eggs (shakers) each

Encourage the children to play one another’s eggs so that the children can become familiar with the sounds that they make. Talk together about the differences in sound. It’s useful at this point to model language like, hard, soft, short, long, high, low, loud, quiet. Think about introduce new vocabulary such as jingle, tinkle or rattle.

Place all of the noisy eggs in front of the group of children. Support the children in taking turns to first pick – then play- a noisy egg, and the do the same with a second egg. Demonstrate the language of description of similarities and differences and challenge more able children to describe what they hear for themselves. If the sound is a match the player gets to keep the eggs. If this is not a match, the eggs are returned to the collection and play continues in the same way until all of the eggs have been paired.

“Make this game even harder by making noisy eggs which are all the same colour and which are sound similar.”

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Bird Spotting


  • Bird finger puppets or laminated pictures of the birds you have selected to match the phonic ability of the group. Hide all but one of these birds around the outside area as these will be the clues for the children to find
  • A large flower pot labelled with a question mark. Hide the remaining bird underneath this pot,
  • Individual word cards to match each of the birds plus ‘can’, ‘you’ see’
  • Identical bird spotter cards for each child in the group (to match the birds being used)
  • Add resources
  • Clipboards and pencils (or dry wipe pens if the investigation cards have been laminated)
  • Binoculars and non-fiction books about birds


Ensure the children know that a bird spotter uses clues and good observational skills to find rare birds. This is what they are going to do.

Model the reading process using the words cards to match the birds hidden for the group. Point to each letter as the children join in with saying each sound, blending the sounds to read the whole word all together. Also practise reading ‘I can see a … in a sentence’

Explain that the sentences are clues to find a rare bird which has gone missing from the outside area. The missing bird will be revealed as the only one which cannot be found with a matching sentence.

Provide the children with the binoculars, clipboards and investigation cards ready to play the game.

Expect the children to read the sentences on the investigations cards independently. Children must tick or mark off objects on the investigations cards as they are found. Support and challenge as needed.

Look, listen and note as each child returns with an investigation card full of ticks with (hopefully) only one gap.

Allow the children time to discuss which bird they think is missing all together, giving reasons for their decisions.

Reveal the flower pot and the bird hiding inside as a means of checking if the children were correct.


Encourage less able children with plenty of adult support. Some children will benefit from a collaborative approach to reading, with all children working as a team of bird spotters! Help them by finding, reading, and then checking items against the list, all together.

Challenge more able children by providing them with longer investigation cards including more complicated phonemes or longer words. For extra thinking, hide more than one bird under the pot.

The Sweet Smell of Success!

Can the children…

  • Maintain attention and concentration to complete the game? With support?
  • Follow the simple instructions of the game? With support?
  • Take turns when playing? With support?
  • Solve a problem by using the process of elimination? With support?
  • Recognise all of the letters and the sounds that they make? With support?
  • Blend to read the words / sentences on the investigation cards? With support?

Learning Lady Top Tips

“This is a great activity to help children develop the problem-solving skill of elimination. It’s another active session with a real purpose and you can really go to town with setting up an imaginary context for this learning. Another great activity to leave outside for child-initiated exploration!”

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All About Birds

Learning Objectives:

To use some letters correctly in word

To segment to write simple words


  • Bird finger puppets or laminated pictures of the birds you have selected to match the phonic ability of the group. Hide all birds around the outside area
  • Binoculars and a bird hide / den to write inside!
  • Writing prompt cards for visual reminders of the tricky words / phonemes they might need to use.
  • Paper for recording- ready form a class book
  • Whiteboards and dry wipe pens


Explain that, as expert bird spotters, the children are going to make a class book about the birds that they can spot in the outside area

Remind t the children the children of the birds which have been chosen for the group. Send the children in search of one bird each to bring back to the hide.

Orally segment the letter sounds in each bird name. This could be done by clapping or counting the number of phonemes using fingers. Do this process all together with the children joining in.

Model the writing process of writing ‘I can see a … (robin)’. Show the children how to write. Ask the children to help by orally segmenting as you write and writing the occasional letter in the air.

Give each child something to record on, explaining that the information needs to be clear so that everybody else in the school will be able to learn about the birds in the garden.

Expect the children to attempt to write independently then encourage an observational drawing of the bird selected, using appropriate detail and colours. Support and challenge as required.


Support children who find this a challenge by writing in a collaborative way with all of the children drawing and writing about the same bird at the same time. Carefully support the writing, one letter / sound word at a time with the children writing all together. Use even larger paper if children are less physically developed.

Challenge more able children by using birds which have more complicated phonemes or longer words associated with them. These children should be expected to apply their phonic knowledge and skills by adding further details. For example, ‘It has got a tail and wings. It is brown and red’.

The Sweet Smell of Success!

Can the children…

  • Maintain attention and concentration to complete the game? With support?
  • Follow the simple instructions of the activity? With support?
  • Write all of the letters and the sounds that they make? With support?
  • Orally segment all of the words? With support?
  • Segment to spell the words and sentences? With support?

Learning Lady Top Tips

“For wider application of ICT, encourage the children to photograph their chosen birds hiding in the outside area.”


Practical Problem Solving on a small or large scale Mathematical Problem Solving

Look closely at a real nest all together. Talk about the features birds need to consider in putting a nest together, how the component parts fit together and the shapes that they make and the difficulty of building a nest with just a beak. Try to challenge greater possibility thinking by asking “I wonder why…”, or “Can you think of any ideas…” type of prompts and develop thinking through general discussion. Provide the children with a wide range of large natural objects such as leaves, logs, large twigs, pine cones etc. Can the children work collaboratively to build one giant nest in the outside area?

This provides an excellent opportunity to observe learning characteristics and problem solving skills at their best. Expect some high quality sustained shared thing- this might be a god one to film to capture learning in action!

On a smaller scale, why not provide the children with twigs, mud and moss etc. to design and make their own nests.

For more ideas from building bird hides and dens to spot the birds to making bird feeders and wibbly wobbly egg races, The Learning Lady Outdoor Learning Pinterest Board

Great Websites to support learning about local birds the RSPB

Don’t forget to let The Learning Lady know how you got on!


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