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Fishing for Letters- A Recognition Activity

April 9, 2017Rabbit Ideas

Sometimes starting with letters can seem daunting and overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be stressful or boring- by tapping into children’s interests and hobbies you can make it fun and engaging; setting them up for a good relationship with learning in the future.

All three male members of our household love fishing. Actually, the female cat probably would, too. So, when approaching learning letters, I attempted to jump onto the bandwagon with some fishing- themed literacy activities.

This game is as simple as a sensory bin (mixing bowl), with cotton wool, letters and net. As Little scooped the letters out, we practiced the sound, then the ‘real’ name of the letter, and what object or animal we could think of, starting with that initial.

The prevailing thought these days, in the Early Years world, is to just teach the phonetic sound; ‘mmmmmm’, or ‘p’, rather than as we used to say, in the olden days; ‘em’ or ‘pee’. I tend to do both:

“What sound is it? That’s right, it’s mmmm, the letter em, mmmm for Mummy.”

Is it right or wrong? Who knows, Big (aged 5) has never been confused by this method. I guess if a child was finding it tricky, you could stick to the phonetic sound (mmmmm) as that is how they will be taught it later, in school. For anyone interested in reading up on methods for teaching phonics, Read, Write, Inc. and Jolly Phonics are both used widely in settings.

Magnetic letters are also really useful. We already had a magnetic fishing rod from another game. I’ve also seen this activity, on Pinterest, but done with a stick, string and paperclip for a fishing rod!

Little is only young, so we kept it short and fun, remembering that small amounts, often is the way forward with any type of learning.

Top tip for letter recognition at home: Keep the activity out for a few days and casually put it down in different rooms at different times; whilst waiting for the bath to run, cooking in the kitchen, outside in the garden, on the sofa…

Often, Little’s confidence starts to build over time,as he gets used to the game, and he’ll start initiating the letter sounds and asking questions, himself:

“That elephant”

“Well nearly, that’s actually a g, letter gee, a g for Granny. This one over here is an e for elephant. Well done!”

As well as being able to talk about the letters and reinforce the sounds, any chance children have to feel and move letters is useful for their wider understanding of what the shape looks like from different angles; ultimately learning that these shapes make up language, both written and verbal. Sometimes I sit with Little and talk about them, sometimes I back off and let him potter with them. I’m never quite sure about the balance of directed activities to organic, child initiated ones, so these days I just play it by ear and relax! He usually lets me know what he wants to do ?

Once we have done the letter learning for the day; guess what is top of the agenda?!

If your child is ready to start learning letters, check out the FREE printable Rabbit Ideas Pre-reading Letter Mat and Challenge Cards!

What interests do your children have? Have you used these to develop literacy activities? I’d love to hear your ideas; please do tweet or comment below.

*Disclaimer: This post contains some affiliate links to products similar to ones we have used. If you purchase though the links, I may receive a small percentage of the profits to support the running of this blog. This will not affect the cost of the products to the buyer. 

Like this idea? Pin it to Pinterest:

Fishing for letters *Disclaimer: This post contains some affiliate links to products similar to ones we have used. If you purchase though the links, I may receive a small percentage of the profits to support the running of this blog. This will not affect the cost of the products to the buyer.  #letters #earlyyears #prek



The ladybirds' adventures
Mission Mindfulness

Comments (17)

  • storiesofourboys

    April 9, 2017 at 10:26 pm

    I love this idea. I have got to try this with JD.

  • DJT

    April 10, 2017 at 11:20 am

    I’ll pass this on to my sister for my nephew!

    1. rabbitideas

      April 10, 2017 at 12:12 pm

      Great! Thank you 🙂

  • Winnettes

    April 11, 2017 at 11:46 am

    This is such a fabulous idea! So simple but so effective and educational.
    Thank you for joining the #BigPinkLink

    1. rabbitideas

      April 11, 2017 at 5:28 pm

      Thank you for sharing the link. ?

  • Briana

    April 15, 2017 at 7:13 pm

    Oh, interesting. I didn’t realize people were teaching letter sounds instead of names.

    Although I was helping out the instructor in a college-level course teaching the Greek alphabet to undergrads, and apparently it’s enough of a problem that he had to tell the students that when you pronounce the letter, you pronounce the SOUND and not the name. Like you don’t read a word by saying “alpha,” “beta,” etc. and naming all the letters. I have no idea why people would do this in Greek when they obviously don’t see a word like “word” in English and think they should “pronounce” it by saying “double-u, oh, ar, dee!”

    1. rabbitideas

      April 15, 2017 at 8:22 pm

      Wow, yes, I can imagine it could easily get complicated especially at that level! Thank you for the comment.

  • Nicole

    May 2, 2017 at 11:37 pm

    Brilliant idea! And such a fun way to teach/ learn the alphabet and phonics!

    1. rabbitideas

      May 3, 2017 at 1:03 pm

      Thank you Nicole!

  • The Mum Reviews

    January 21, 2018 at 11:52 am

    That’s a really fun idea, and it’s so brilliant that you do learning activities like that in such an intentional way with your children. #thesatsesh

    1. Jenny

      January 23, 2018 at 7:25 pm

      Thank you!

  • Hayley @ Mission: Mindfulness

    January 22, 2018 at 7:42 pm

    Fishing for letters is such a good idea. Our magnetic letters have been gathering dust for a while so this is a really good way of breathing new life into them! Thank you. #thesatsesh xx

    1. Jenny

      January 23, 2018 at 7:24 pm

      Thank you!

  • mummy here and there

    January 23, 2018 at 11:04 am

    What a brilliant idea, fun and creative at the same time X #thesatsesh

    1. Jenny

      January 23, 2018 at 7:24 pm

      Thank you!

  • Claire | the ladybirds adventures

    January 31, 2018 at 8:06 pm

    Such a great idea to leave the activity for your child to discover in different settings. My eldest is far more like to try something if she can help herself to it. Thanks for joining #bloggerpinparty

    1. Jenny

      February 2, 2018 at 6:20 pm

      Yes, some kids like to ‘discover’ something like this rather than have it all set up for them!

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