Because the Learning Lady knows how hard everyone is working at the moment, she has been scratching her head to come up with simple, low cost and effective ideas which can keep your class learning and having fun right up until the end of term. The solution comes in the form of plastic eggs from the local £1 shop and a permanent marker! Whichever version you choose (or even if you choose all of them), your class are guaranteed to have a great time, without even realising how hard they are actually working!
All of the activities are designed to be played outside as a type of Easter egg hunt. The bigger the space, the more eggs you use and the sneakier the hiding places, the better the learning potential. Before you begin the activities, transform the plastic eggs (as described below). Always play the games with adult extension, differentiating using the simple methods described. This will considerably improve the quality of the child initiated play which follows!
Use the permanent maker to draw a simple chick on one side of each egg (I chose only to use the yellow ones). Roll pairs of chicks over and write the same tricky word on the reverse. Keep this activity challenging, differentiating by using tricky words which are new or words that groups or individuals are struggling to remember. For an Easter treat, put mini eggs inside as a prize for matched pairs.
For sharply focussed, adult led reading, tell each child that he / she is hunting for a particular pair of words. This also works well if pairs of children look for pairs of words together because it encourages talk for learning.
Learning Lady Top Tip
“Make an Angry Birds version if your children would prefer it, this also extends the activity beyond Easter and engages the children who are less inclined to choose to read.”
Some children find hearing rhymes and patterns of language a real challenge, even when they are able to blend simple words and know many of the letter / sound combinations. Here’s an activity which practises both!
Use the permanent maker to write rhyming words onto eggs, one word on the top half, one word on the bottom half. Keep this activity challenging, differentiating by using phonemes which are new or that groups or individuals are struggling to remember. These then need to be split in two and hidden ready for the egg hunt. This is a great game for Year 1 children too as you can use alternative spellings of the same phonemes to embed this difficult knowledge in a very practical context. Don’t forget you can use non-words too!
The Learning Lady Says…
“The practitioners at my Fun with Phonics training tried this recently; it encouraged lots of collaboration, decision making and reading aloud to one another. Pity it decided to rain just as we went outside!”
For children who are still struggling to differentiate sounds and pay attention to detail (working in Phase 1 of Letters and Sounds) this is super simple and effective. Like the Tricky Chicks game, this is a simple hunt to find pairs of eggs which are the same. Place the same objects inside pairs of eggs so that they make a sound when rattled. Items could include; rice, coins, pasta, lentils dry sand, gravel, shells, bells, screws and nails, dried peas or marbles.
For an adult led learning opportunity, hide one of each egg pair in the outside area and . Give each child a second egg and then send them off to hunt for its partner. Can the children find the matching hidden eggs by finding, rattling, listening and matching?
Make the activity more challenging by using eggs filled with objects which sound similar e.g. things made of metal. Don’t forget to encourage the children to explain how they know the objects by describing the sounds that they make e.g. “jingling “or “rolling”- this is much harder and will probably need lots of modelling.
Learning Lady Top Tip
Take care that the eggs aren’t paired by colour as well as noise, otherwise the children will not listen carefully and resort to visual clues. Although… for even younger children, looking to see how many eggs of each colour the children can find and sort between baskets is another great activity.
This is a great spelling activity which can be used for the visual recognition of tricky words or words containing the phonemes the children have been learning. It’s suitable for all Reception and Year 1 children and, as before, can be simply differentiated by the words used.
Use the permanent maker to write a real word on the top half of each egg, and a muddled version of the word on the bottom half. These then need to be split in two with the real words hidden and the muddled words kept in a pretend ‘nest’ or basket. Explain to the children that the words they will be given are all muddled up and they must find the right pairing for each word by looking closely at the letters within the muddle. This will probably need a lot of modelling to start with but is an excellent child initiated challenge to set with different words once the children have got the hang of it!
Children in Year 1 who have been taught many different alternative spellings for the same phonemes need lots of practise in fun contexts to embed this understanding (because it’s hard). This is a fun way to get the children looking closely for the patterns to consider associated rules with an active purpose.
Use the permanent maker to write whole words onto each egg (for extra challenge these could be words containing two syllables). The words chosen need to follow the alternative spelling patterns for the same phonemes to be revised during the activity. Hide all of the eggs around the outside space (make sure that there are plenty of each type of alternative).
Explain to the children that this is a timed challenge (pick a period of time to suit each group). The children need to look for, and sort, all of the words containing the alternative spellings into pretend nests, baskets or buckets.
Once all of the eggs have been sorted, talk to the children about the rules and patterns observed in the eggs to embed their prior learning. Can they sort the eggs into rhyming strings? Can the children think of oral sentences to match the words? Can they improve on one another’s sentences?
Ask the children to hide all of the eggs once more then set them the challenge of writing some of the words using the revision of patterns they’ve discussed. Write on whiteboards or chalk on the floor outside.
Learning Lady Top Tip
Careful choice of words is critical! Make sure that the words you use are to demonstrate a spelling rule which has been taught and needs revision and not random exception words because this will just confuse the children.
This could be a suitable independent activity for a guided reading session too if carefully managed!
Understanding the concept of a word and a sentence needs lots of practise- this is just one easy way to do it!
Use the permanent maker to write whole words onto each egg (for extra challenge these could be words containing two syllables). The words chosen need to include tricky words that the children have been learning and those which they are struggling to remember. The words need to form simple five word sentences, being written onto eggs of the same colour for each sentence. A full stop egg for each sentence is also important. Differentiating by the complexity of words used and colour teams will help the children get the most out of this activity.
Children should be tasked to work in pairs (three pairs at a time is ideal but this does depend on the children you’re working with). Explain that each pair is a colour team and that there are six eggs of each colour hiding in the outside area to be found. . The game is a race to see which pair can collect all six eggs, bringing them back to the starting point to be arranged into a sentence as quickly (and as accurately) as possible. Can the children read back their sentences? Hide the eggs and repeat the exercise with a different colour? Make up silly sentences with a mixture of different coloured eggs?
Learning Lady Top Tip
Don’t forget to give each team a bucket, basket or flower pot to collect the eggs in!
The Learning Lady Says…
“I bought the eggs used here from Amazon and they arrived the next day!
but you can buy smaller amounts of plastic eggs from shops like The Works, The Range, Poundland and Hobby Craft
The pen I used was a basic Sharpie from a local stationary shop.
All of the games took just a couple of hours to make- Even I couldn’t believe how quick and easy it could be to prepare for so much learning! The best part is you’ll only need to make them once and they’ll last really well- much better than printing and laminating for hours on end!
So put the kettle on, play your favourite film (or sit in the garden if you’re lucky) and get writing with your Sharpie!
Don’t forget to let me know how you get on!”