Tag: childhood

Learning To Read : A Whole New Chapter

Learning To Read : A Whole New Chapter

There are many noteworthy milestones in a child’s life, but learning to read has to be right up there. The whole “learning to read” process is incredible and something that is so unique to each child. To see everything just slowly starting to click is wondrous, an entirely new world opens up and I cannot wait till we fully dive into it. My eldest (5) is learning phonics at school at the moment. When his class teach mentioned in the beginning of the year that me may even be able to read by the end of the year, I thought she was joking, he’s only in grade R, but let me tell you, phonics are an INCREDIBLE THING!

Each week they have a different “focus” letter at school, “curly kuh” or “kicking kuh”, “annie apple” or “harry hat man”. Activities are then related to that letter and each time they speak about the pronunciation of it. We have to duly cut out pictures being with that letter every weekend and art for the week is focused on it. Just a few weeks ago Aadam read his very first word! R-E-D, he saw it on TV and said “Rra – ehhh – daaa”, “RED mama” !! I want to pause that moment in time forever. My heart was so proud it could have exploded! We are far from reading properly and I am in no way going to force him, but since then he has “read” a few other words by himself as well, “sun” , “dog” and “mat”.

I am by no means a teacher, I’m not a professional in any way, but we’ve done a few activities over the years at home that have focused on letter recognition and I think at this age it all starts coming together. Reading and writing go hand in hand and by practicing letter recognition with some fun activities, reading can quickly follow.

Here are a few fun activities you can do at home to practice letter recognition. It’s all learning through playing so your child wont feel like they are “working” in any way.

Spray the letter

Write out letters randomly on an outside wall with some chalk and give your child a spray bottle or water pistol. Get them to “spray” out the letters from words such as their name or other simple 3 letter words.

Letter hunt

I purchased some crafty foam letters and flash cards from our favourite book and stationary store, CNA , and hid the foam letters in some rainbow rice. Place a flashcard out and get your little one to dig through the rice to find the matching letters. As they are matching the letters, sound them out individually. The 3 letter words are always an easy start.

Word Tubes

These are so ridiculously easy to make and such a fun way to learn. We have made 2 different kinds before. The first is done simply by taking two paper cups. On one of them write out common endings like “at”, “all” and “it” and on the other write out letters like “m”, “f”, and “s”. Cut a window through the outer cup and twist to form the words. It can also be easily done with plastic eggs (I told you those little guys are versatile). Again on one side write one letter and on the bottom write the common endings. Sit with your child as they twist the egg and sound out each word.

Read Read Read

As simple as it may sound, but reading to your children is the best way to teach them how to read themselves. Making books part of your daily life is so important. They watch your lips move and form words, improves language skills, shows them that words represent sounds and concepts, words are read from left to write, and stories continue when you flip the page. Start from as young as possible to foster a love for reading with bedtime stories or library time. CNA has some great phonics books, in additional to all their reading books for kids, if you are interested in diving deeper into a more structured learning approach at home.

Writing out letters

Whether its tracing them out in a wipe and erase book, or using more Montessori type activities such as writing them out in Sand, using a brush with rice or even shaping the letters out of playdough. Its all about recognition and muscle memory. Sounding out each letter as you go and then practice by linking the sounds.

Watching a child enter this whole new world of literacy is just so magical. I am in awe of how quickly children can pick up on things and how many doors of opportunity this will open. Though i know on the other hand its going to open up a whole new ball game in parenting. Newspaper and magazine headlines will bring numerous questions and conversations but I cannot wait! There are some fantastic resources available to help us on this journey as parents, free printables online or books and learning aids from stationary stores. Reading is truly one of the greatest gifts for a child to learn and one that every single child should have a chance to learn.

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by CNA

Creative Cardboard – Thinking Out Of The Box

Creative Cardboard – Thinking Out Of The Box

We are pretty big fans of making things out of cardboard in our house. I love how a simple box can be turned into, well, anything your heart desires really! It drives my husband insane but I keep every single box after a delivery for the boys and I to turn into a magical masterpiece. Cardboard sneaks into your home every time you do the shopping, and you can get boxes for free at most stores just by asking for them.

Apart from simply using flat pieces of cardboard as a canvas, you can build things with it using only tape or glue. It’s recyclable as well, so the possibilities are endless.

I thought I’d put together a list of some of the things we have made to inspire you to get creative. March is national craft month after all.

1. A Market Stall

I kid you not, we are going onto year 3 of pulling out our market stall. You’ll need a slightly bigger box for this one (think washing machines, fridges etc). Cut out a window and have fun getting creative.

2. A Rocket Ship

Would it be an article about cardboard crafts without one? We slightly cheated with this one and bought a “flat pack” cardboard rocket ship. I wanted to use it as a craft for Aadam’s party so the kids could all paint it. I can’t remember where we got it from but Makedo sell awesome “assemble your own” cardboard construction kits which you can buy from Takealot.

3. A Marble Run

One of the most iconic ways to use cardboard tubes and it provides hours of endless fun. If you are worried about marbles with your little ones you can also do the same thing with Pom-Poms. Turn it into a colour sorting activity for your pompoms.

4. A Mini Town

Let your imagination guide you here, the possibilities are endless. Just find a nice sturdy box that’s the right height and create away!

5. A Car Ramp

One of our favourite ways to “race” our Hot Wheels or Monster Trucks. Find a bigger box and open it up. A glue gun comes in handy with this one to stick the different lanes on. The boys played for hours comparing which car went faster!

6. A Mini Aquarium

The perfect craft for a cereal box, and a little boy for was dying for a fish 🙂 The boys did all the painting and bits of cutting here and mummy did need to get involved with the hot glue gun to stick some of the sea weed and suspend the fish. This still sits in our dining room today!

7. A Post Box

After all our family left last year to return oversea’s we were feeling very sorry for ourselves. Combine that with a few movie runs of “Postman Pat”, it wasnt long before the boys wanted to “post” letters to their grandparents and aunts and uncles. A simple small box does the trick here with cut up toilet roll for the legs. Make sure you cut a “door” in the back to retrieve your letters once posted!

8. A Letter Or Number Sorter

This is the perfect educational craft to make out of a shoe box for the kids. We chose to do ours with corresponding uppercase and lowercase letters, to help with recognition. But you can do whatever you want! For smaller kids you don’t need to even use letters or numbers, it’s a fantastic fine motor skill activity in its own!

9. Art, Art, Art

Cardboard really does make the best canvas. Its thick, sturdy and a ton of fun to experiment with. Paint landscapes or portraits, abstract or 3D, just give your kids a piece of a box and let them paint away!

10. A Car

Would a childhood be complete without making your own box car? Have a “drive in” movie night at home and get the kids to make their own box cars. You can see we didn’t even get to decorating ours before Aadam jumped in and was “vrooming” away. He just got frustrated because it didn’t actually go anywhere 🙂

11. A House

Yes, of course I would finish my list without getting to a house. Whether it’s a big house for the kids to play in (you’ll need much larger boxes for that again), or a smaller house for their dolls (or action heroes); making a house out of cardboard is a must! Mummy got involved again cutting out the smaller detail like the windows and glueing the slightly uneven floors, but the boys designed and painted to their heart’s content!


A few other ideas to give you inspiration, but I didn’t necessarily have “photographic” evidence”:

  • A space helmet – perfect for little heads and oh so easy to make, even easier if you have any “build-a-bear” boxes lying around the house, they were almost made for this!
  • A guitar – Super easy to make, and all you need to do is add a few elastic bands. We have made a number of impromptu guitars out of shoe boxes before!
  • An oven/stove – Fairly simple to make because of the square shape and I have seen some fantastic ones on pintrest. Bottle tops make the perfect temperature dials.
  • A Petrol/ Fuel Pump – Another fab one to all get involved with. The rectangular shape is nice and easy so you can have fun and get really involved in the painting and design detail of it.

There you have it, 15 quick and fun ways to get creative with cardboard. It really is one of the things the boys and I turn to often and I love hoe it expands their imagination. With almost all of these things my eldest has come to me with the idea, and whenever we get a box as a gift or with a delivery he’s the first one to say “mummy, lets turn this into a……”

Happy crafting month and I hope some of these ideas gave you inspiration!