Food for phonics - pip pop pippety pop!

Children may not be at school at the moment but they will have lots of opportunities to learn lots of new words and get ready for phonics at home. Our free Early Soundplay Together Activity Packs are full of ideas to help you.

Sound play helps children develop an awareness of the building blocks of words – rhyme, syllables and individual speech sounds. It gives children the foundation skills for phonics. Phonics is the primary method for teaching children to read and involves matching of speech sounds (phonemes) to letters (graphemes).

Talking to children and introducing them to a wide range of vocabulary is also important. Children learn new words best in their context so preparing, cooking and eating food are all great activities for introducing vocabulary. They also provide lots of opportunities for sound play too!

Fruit salad

Making a fruit salad is an excellent language activity. You can name the fruit, name the colour and describe the size, shape and texture. Talk about all the actions like peeling, chopping, cutting and slicing. Peeling a banana or an orange, cutting an apple into slices or grapes in half.

Fruit names also give you an easy introduction to syllables – the number of beats in a word. How many beats are there?

  • ‘grape’ and ‘pear’ – 1
  • ‘ap-ple’ and ‘or-ange’ – 2
  • ‘ba-na-na’ and ‘straw-ber-ry – 3

You can clap, or stomp, the number of beats, or syllables, as you say the word.

Baking and cooking

Cooking and baking are lovely activities for naming ingredients and utensils but also for all the action words you can introduce. Mixing, stirring, pouring, cutting and many more.

Action words are easier for a child to learn if they can participate – ‘mixing’ ingredients in a bowl or ‘pouring’ water from a jug. Whoops! Millie what a mess!

Songs and rhymes

When you have introduced a new food or concept such as taste or texture another good way to reinforce the learning of these new words is to find a story on the same topic – baking cakes or even going on a picnic.

Can you find a song or rhyme or a picture book that links to your food in some way? This gives you another opportunity to reinforce new vocabulary with the children.

Can you think of a word that rhymes with cake? How about a ‘snake’ who likes to ‘bake’! 

Jake the snake likes cakes. Scrummy yummy in his tummy, yummy scrummy cakes!

Sound play

What sound does a food start with? ‘Popcorn’ starts with ‘p’ – can you think of anything else that starts with ‘p’? What about ‘peas’ or ‘pasta’?

Can you pop a piece of pasta in your mouth?

Depending on the age of the child some speech sounds may be tricky.  A child may say a ‘t’ instead of the ‘k’ sound, for example, ‘tandles on the take’.

When this happens don’t ask the child to say it again, or to copy you, just let them hear the correct pronunciation of the word. For example, ‘Yes, candles on the cake. Shall we count them?’

Talk about food!

Children need to hear new words about twelve times in order to learn them so you should enjoy every opportunity each day to talk about food. Do you take advantage of them all?

  • Breakfast, snack time, lunch and tea
  • Pretend play – shopping, a café, farm or kitchen are all settings that let you introduce and talk about different aspects of food
  • Growing cress, or if you have space some pots or a flowerbed where you can grow a few vegetables or herbs
  • Enjoy rhymes, songs and stories about food and cooking

Whatever you do make sure you have fun talking about food! Our free Early Soundplay Together Activity Packs are full of ideas to help you.

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