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My Christmas present resolution (that can be a thing, right?) is to only buy educational toys and art supplies. We don’t need more trucks or trains or stuffed animals or Peppa pig this or Elmo that! The toy bins are overflowing as is, so Christmas gifts this year will double as homeschool supplies… but still be fun toys and games, of course!
These are some of our favorite toys and games for learning how to read!
1. Montessori Spinning Phonics Blocks
These cute phonics blocks are so much fun! Each letter spins, so one “kabob” can make a whole bunch of three letter CVC words. Awesome for fine motor skills; perfect for sounding out short, easy words for a brand new reader.
Occasionally, your kiddo will pop onto a combination that is NOT a real word. This is actually great for learning! Kids need to learn that they can read the letters out loud exactly as they’re supposed to be read… and have the word be nonsense! Not all letter combinations make actual words, and it’s a big confidence booster for children to discover that 1) they’re doing a great job pronouncing all the letters correctly, and 2) they can tell the difference between the real words and the nonsense words on the phonics blocks. Pat yourself on the back!
2. Zingo Sight Words
My son got this game for his birthday. I’ve been doing various sight word games and activities with him for 6 months. We start playing this game… and suddenly he knows over half the sight words in less than a week! (I promise I’m trying to be more excited than jealous!)
My son doesn’t really “play the game” as intended but created his own rules that work just as well for learning. The little red house shoots out sight words that each player matches to their game board. Whoever blacks out their whole board first wins the game. My son likes to play cooperatively. We lay out every board and match them all together. It actually works great because then I can help him out with the ones he’s still learning!
3. Lowercase & Uppercase Literacy Wiz
This spelling game was another birthday present my son can’t get enough of. All the words have 3, 4, or 5 letters and come with picture cards. There’s also a little shield to cover up the spelling of the word for older kids who want to try writing the word just from the picture alone! There’s an all uppercase letters version too.
4. Short Vowel Dominoes
I love reading toys that let kids think creatively. These dominoes are perfect for building confidence in new readers about just how many words they can recognize—and create! How exciting is that for a preschool or kindergarten kiddo who’s been grinding away at the marathon task of learning how to read. They get to show off some fun words they can write all by themselves!
5. Blends & Digraphs Dominoes
These are next level dominoes if your kiddo loved the short vowel set. I think they’re perfect for kids who already know a little bit about blends and digraphs, but a giant bucket might be a little bit overwhelming as the introduction to such a complex topic. Once your child understands some of the sounds, this is definitely a fun way to play around with putting it all together!
If you want more of an introduction to teaching blends and digraphs, check out these cute classroom posters and my Blends & Digraphs Bingo game.
What are your top recommended toys for learning to read? Comment and let me know what should be added to the list!