Fun with Sounds and Elkonin Boxes

Here is another fun way to practice spelling and phonics skills. All you need are some plastic letters and my Elkonin Boxes. Please click here for a link to download the boxes from a previous post.

There is an interesting sequence that parents should be aware of in spelling and phonics. Children learn to recognise sounds in words in the following order:

  • initial sound
  • final sound
  • medial sound (middle sound)

We tend to voice the initial and final sounds of words a little louder which makes them slightly easier to hear. Young children will often spell words without the middle/medial sound so “cat” can be written as “ct”.

Elkonin boxes can be so handy when practicing or teaching sounds. The photo below shows how they can be used to practice the initial sound in words.

  • What is the first sound in “cot”?
  • Can you change “cot” into “not”?

Most spelling programmes are based on the concept of word families. Children learn to spell words with same end sound (rime). By changing the first sound(s) before the vowel (onset) you can create a new word from the same family. The photo above shows the “ot” family. Can make not, hot, cot, spot, lot…?

Here is the trickier ” medial” sound. What is the middle sound in “nut”, “net”, “not”?

You can use them to practice blending or “stretching out” words. Create a word on the board and have your child stretch out the sounds. Then swap roles so your child is spelling out words for you to decode.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂


Saint Patrick’s Day Editing Printables

I have created 5 editing tasks for my class to complete this week. They are all based around the theme of St. Patrick’s Day so there should be lots of learning involved.

There are spelling errors, capital letters and full stops to be corrected in each task. My class just love anything that involves whipping out their highlighters!!!

Here are two of the editing tasks for you to view:

Please click here to download all 5 St. Patrick’s Day editing tasks

I am sure that these St. Patrick’s Day editing tasks will be useful to lots of parents and teachers out there. I tried to include some very simple yet important facts about Ireland and what makes us Irish.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

p.s : clipart is by

PDF list of “oa” words

Do you ever get weary of writing up words to blend and decode? I decided to create a short cut!

Here is a PDF of lots and lots of words, 20+, that contain the vowel digraph “oa”.

It am really looking forward to whipping it out tomorrow on my super duper interactive whiteboard! As it is a PDF document you should be able to open it with your software and have children highlight/circle the digraph and then blend the word.

Please let me know what you think! I will make lots more of them for different digraphs if they would be of use.

Here is a sample page:

Click here to download

It’s pretty simple but useful I think! Just grab your elastic band and blend those sounds 🙂

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Teaching your child to read/spell: initial sounds series

Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?! Let Big Bird help your child  learn initial sounds by clicking on the object that matches the letter sound. Big Bird will tell your child both the letter name and sound.

Click here to play

It’s so cute. You’ve just got to love Big Bird’s voice. Go ahead and try it. You are sure to enjoy with whatever about your child 😉 !!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Teaching your child to read/spell Series: Initial sounds

For the next week or so I will be posting lots of tips, games and explanations on how to help your child with ” initial sounds”.

Let’s look at a basic “cvc”  (consonant-vowel-consonant) word that children will learn to read and spell:

The word “cat” comprises 3 sounds:

  • Initial sound: c
  • Medial sound: a
  • Final sound: t

These sounds are not equally easy for a child to hear and beginner readers are always taught to develop sound awareness in the following order:

  • intial
  • final
  • medial

When we voice a word it is common that we stress the the first sound so it is therefore the easiest to hear. I will not discuss the other sounds right now. Let’s just stick to ” initial sounds” 🙂

So, now that I know that “initial sounds” are the starting point for reading and spelling how do I actually help my child?!

Here is today’s game from

Starfall covers each letter of the alphabet individually. I just love this for beginner readers. Lots of games for initial sounds cover the entire alphabet. This means that a child can only play when her/she knows all of them! This format allows you to pick a new sound or revise an old one. It is a great way to supplement or reinforce the letter sound that your child is covering in school this week.

Starfall is fun, clear and easy to use making it suitable for your pre-schooler who insists on using your computer or iPad! He or she/will learn to associate letter sounds with the written letter just through play!

Your child clicks on the “initial sound” in pizza which is already highlighted and clear. When you click on the letter you hear it’s phonetic sound for further reinforcement and learning.

Now we can see the initial sounds of pepperoni and pizza are both “p”.

Sitting with your child will allow you to naturally discuss, question and probe sounds when they are new. After a while your child will understand and can just enjoy playing and learning the phonetic sounds.

It is also a sneaky place for adults to check that they are pronouncing the sounds correctly 😉

This time your child clicks on the “p” and the word is revealed. Again, the initial sound is highlighted and allows you to point it out and discuss it.

I hope that you find this series useful. Please leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Scrambled Spellings !

This is another quick and simple way to practice spellings. My class get great enjoyment from it.

Click here to download.

After you have finished practicing your spellings for the night, whip out my Scrambled Eggs Handout.  In the “Scrambled Egg” column your child writes his/her spellings back-to-front or completely mixed up. Then put the sheet away for tomorrow evening. Start your spelling practice by having your child figure out the scrambled up words from yesterday and writing them in the Un-scrambled section. Alternatively, you could scramble the words for your child to decode.

What do you think? Let me know if your child/class enjoyed this game. I just love getting comments!!!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Magic e practice sheets

I create these sheets for my students to practice blending words that have “magic e” in them. There are 3 different sheets for blending the “long a ” sound. I send home one a week for parents to practice blending with their child.

Note: this is not a spelling list. It is just for practicing how to “sound out” and “blend” words containing the Magic E.

Click here to download

Note : open your Gmail or Google Docs account before downloading!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Alphabet Soup Fun

Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?! has some fantastic free games and videos for toddlers to 6 yrs.

I really like Cookie Monster’s Alphabet Soup game for beginner readers.

Click on the image below to play

Generally, beginner readers learn to hear sounds in words in a set or order:

  1. Initial (first)
  2. Final (last)
  3. Medial (middle)

Teaching a child to hear medial sounds can be tricky and requires a lot of practice. Alphabet  Soup is just perfect for this! Cookie Monster will walk your child through using medial sounds to make words. Your child picks the sound and Cookie Monster blends it to create a word. Simple!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

a-e Bingo Boards

I have been preparing a unit for my class on the “a-e digraph”. It might be of use to those of you with 6-7 year olds, or even a little older.

Here’s the science!

A digraph is where two sounds come together as a unit and make a special sound, rather than their normal phonetic sound eg. sh = shop.

A split digraph has a letter in between , or splits the digraph eg. made (the “d” splits the digraph “ae”) or time (the “m” splits the digraph “ie”).

Before you get too confused, there are actually only 6 split digraphs in the English Language. Relieved?

  1. a-e (cake)
  2. e-e (scene)
  3. i-e (like)
  4. o-e (home)
  5. u-e (cube)
  6. y-e (type)

Here’s the rule!

When “e” is at the end of of word, it says not sound, but make vowels say their name rather than their sound. He’s got the power!

I made a bingo board game for  “a-e” words which you might like to play.

Here’s the game!

(Please click on the image below)

This download includes 14 Bingo Boards, a Caller Card and a blank Bingo Board for you to use.

Note: make sure that you have either your Gmail or Google Docs account open!

Have fun ,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Word Slide for tricky words (the, then, them, there, they, these)

Some of my students are having terrible trouble with the following tricky words:

  • then
  • them
  • they
  • there
  • these

The don’t call them “tricky” for nothing! They look similar, too similar, and only some can be “sounded out” correctly. So, where to begin?!

It is important to draw their attention to the familiar chunk in all these words :

  • then
  • them
  • they
  • there
  • these

I have created a word slide to help make the similarities and differences between the words more obvious.  I also think that it is kinda cute! What do you think?

You just slide the letter up into the window to create a “tricky word”. Generally, after doing this for a few days the penny will drop 😉

To download your free word sliders please click on the image below. There are two different images to choose from, a Gingerbread Man and Monkey Business.

It is pretty easy to put together. Just have a look at the photo. Fold it in half across the flap. Cut out the window and a tiny piece from the top to allow the letters to slide up and down.

Note: When downloading don’t forget to have your gmail or google docs account open. Click save when requested to do so at the bottom of your screen ( the warning is because the document is large, not because it is unsafe!)

I really hope that you find this useful. Please let me know if you would like me to create some more word sliders.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

Clipart by DJInkers

Online Baking Tray Spelling

What could be better than building words with magnetic letters? Building them with online magnetic letters! offers free online magnetic letters for you to play with and explore.

You just type or drag the letter(s) you want onto the board. Then drag the letters to the side to remove them. What a cute and easy way to practice spelling! No more hunting for missing magnets either. It’s genius!

It is a great way to practice “Word Families” (words that have the same ending eg. man/ran/tan) or digraphs ( oo i n room/soon/spoon).

Your child should learn to see and hear the commonalities between words. This allows him/her to analogise (make an educated guess) from a known word to a similar word.

The first word I created was “sing”. If I can spell “sing” I should be able to figure out (analogise) how to spell “ring”.

If I can hear that they both have “ing” I am most of the way there. The difference between the two words is just their inital letter sound. By replacing the “s” in sing with “r” I get “ring”.

Try this week’s spelling unit and see what connections your child can find. Can they think of any other words that could grow out of a list word?

Click on this link to play magnetic letters.

Have fun 🙂

Free Online Spelling Games and Tests

I have had a few enquiries about interactive games to practice spellings. It can be tricky to find games that are suitable for Irish standards. Most games are pre-programmed to follow the spellings being taught in their country of origin.

I have found 2 websites that are just perfect and get the thumbs up from the kids that I work with ( and they are a tough audience, lol!). Both websites allow you to either learn your spellings or be tested on them. Programme in the words, pour a cup of tea and let the computer do the rest. Perfect! is probably my favourite, even though the voices sound a little robotic. My kids don’t seem to minds though. They are usually too focused on passing their online spelling test to win a free game token. It’s genius! You only get your game token if you score 100%. If you don’t get them all correct you are invited to take the test again so you can earn your game token. It is the game token that is all important here people ;).

From your perspective it is a great programme as you can type in up to 30 spellings for your child to learn, practice or be tested on. You can even take part in a Spelling Bee. What else can I say? It’s free, fun, easy to use and my kids love it!

Please click on the screenshot below if you want to visit the site.

Spelling City is my next favourite site. I had actually forgotten about it until I got a request from a little person today. It hadn’t been working for quite a while, you see. Anyway, this website is still fun though it doesn’t offer as many free games or functions. You can programme in your own spelling to learn or be tested on . The Hang Mouse Game is great fun to play. You are a mouse trying to steal some cheese from under the cat’s nose. You get a piece of cheese for each correct letter you guess. With each incorrect letter the cat wakes up a little more. Watch out, the cat’s about!

Please click on the screen shot below to visit the site.

What do you think of these websites? Please drop me a comment and let me know if your child likes them 🙂

Pyramid Power

Spell your words adding one letter at a time.

You begin by writing the first letter of your spelling. Underneath this you write the first two letters of the word, then the first three letters underneath this and so on until the word is fully written. The result is a pyramid shaped spelling.

Today we were studying words that had “ee” in them. The photos show them spelling out “meet”. You could share the spelling by taking one line each or every other word.

You can even trace around it to make it even more” pyramid like”!

DIY Word Family Sliders

Pick up some paint sample cards from your friendly DIY Shop. You will need two different types of sample, a block colour card and multi-coloured card.

Divide the block colour card in half.  Then draw a square the same diameter or slightly smaller than the squares on the other sample.

Now carefully cut out the square that you drew to create a window for your slider.

Fold your card in half, trace the right and left side of your window viewer.

You then apply glue to only the right and left of these lines, not above and below. You are creating a back for your slider.

Write out the letters of the alphabet on your multi-coloured samples, one letter per box.

Label your slider with a word family, in this case “an”.

Insert your multi-coloured card into the slider.

Get sliding to create your own Word Family Cards 🙂

Why should I make this?

For the science behind this game please see my post on Onset and Rime.

It’s a fun way for children to practice Word Families.

Not all of the letters you slide through the window will create “real words”. This will help your child to learn to distinguish between real and nonsense words (an important reading trait. Difficulties with this in an older child could indicate Dyslexia).

It would take me forever to make…

You will only have to make the letter slides once as they can be inserted into any family slider that you create.

After that you will only have to make one or two sliders per week to match your child’s spelling list. If you are feeling lazy you could put a sticker on the slider and write the family with your pencil. You could then rub out and re-use the same slider.

I hope that you find this post helpful!