Phoneme Week 1: OW

OWFirst things first, Travis traced O and W on his Usborne Wipe-Clean Alphabet cards so that I could establish these two as our focus for the coming days. I introduced the two letters together, teaching him that o + w says “ow”. This is a fun one, since of course it is also the word we say for an owie!

OW (1)

Phonics Book of the Week: Cow Takes a Bow. Start off your week by reading this book, underlining everywhere your child spots the o-w pair next to each other. Travis loved it right away. This silly story features a cOW who goes off to the circus and finds herself playing the part of the clOWn. The book includes a nice variety of other OW words such as brOWn, tOWn, dOWn, nOW, frOWn, hOW, wOW, and of course bOW. We re-read the story every third night or so, at which point Travis was sight-reading many of our words of the week.

Guiding Theme: flOWer

Flower (4)

We started off in the simplest way possible, with flowers in a vase, making the OW phoneme just right for these first few weeks of spring! Travis loved helping to arrange the flowers, and then adored playing with leftover stems and leaves, so it turned into a fantastic nature lesson, too.

  • We Read:
  • We Made:
    • A Flower Collage, to get him excited about the word! I’m sure I confused my checkout clerk at the craft store when I told her no one was getting married, but that I was buying a wedding flower magazine for a craft with my son. Believe it or not, Travis loved going through and finding the best bouquets to cut out, which was great safety scissors practice too! Flower (1)Once we had a huge pile of flower pictures, we used a glue stick to craft a gorgeous “Flower Show” on green construction paper. Travis loved deciding where each picture should go, and was very into mixing colors and big flower/small flowers!Flower (2)
    • A Word Flower Garden. Adults, cut flower shapes from construction paper and glue to a separate piece of construction paper as the background. Each petal contains a word “family”, which we filled in as the week went on… although some of our families were loosely defined, in order to fit every key word onto a petal.OW (16)
    • Newspaper FlowersNewspaper Flowers (9)
    • Paper Towel FlowersPaper Towel Flowers (9)
    • Cupcake Wrapper FlowersCupcake Flower (7)
  • We Learned:
    • For science of the week, we learned about the property of transpiration, through which color travels from the stem of a flower to its petals.OW science (6)
    • For math of the week, we simply did lovely spring flower counting! Set out flower pots or other containers with labels numbered 1 through 5 (go higher depending on your child’s age or ability). Next, count out flowers correctly into the proper bin. It’s a simple exercise, but you’ll have a lovely spring flower display at the end.OW math (4)
  • We Visited:
    • The Macy’s FlOWer Show! As soon as I saw the ad in the paper for the show this week, I knew I had chosen the right phoneme. The show featured lavish bouquets on carousel horses, and Travis was thrilled since we’d just completed so many flower projects at home.Macys (9).jpg
  • We Ate:

Other Words of the Week:

  • Cow: We played with all our barn and cow toys at home, and in addition visited cows at a local farmed animal sanctuary. OW (28)In addition to our phonics title, we read the silly book Click Clack Moo: Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin. If you’re lucky, you might even see a plOW while you visit the cows!OW (30)
  • Down: Cow falls down in our phonics story… So we further played with the word by rolling things down tubes and cushions. Get creative – what else will roll? Maybe even your toddler!OW (6)
  • Shower: Another perfectly timed word, since we are having many April shOWers this time of year! We listened to the song of the same name all week, and looked outside every time we had another lovely April rain shower. As another fun idea, see if you can entice your little one into his or her first shower. Travis was never brave enough to get in, but loved playing on the side with a bucket and toys.OW (3)
  • Towel: Speaking of showers, you’re going to need to dry off after, so what a nice coincidence that towel fits the theme of the week. I left our towels out a few days for fun “indoor beach” play, which is always a hit.OW (26)
  • Owl: We read Owl Babies by Martin Waddell, and also visited the owls at a local nature preserve that rescues injured animals. If your child is a bit older, consider a neat science project like dissecting (sterilized) owl pellets, which you can purchase online. Usborne’s Beginners Non-Fiction series contains an Owls volume, which is a great read for kids 5 and up; younger kids adore That’s Not My Owl.OW (8)
  • Frown: A felt circle and face shapes from a recent Koala Crate were the perfect way to talk about the word frown, as well as the emotion behind it.OW (2)
  • Brown: We read Dr. Seuss’s silly Mr. Brown Can Moo, and colored and painted in the color brown this week. OW (14)
  • Town: Consider a cute project like the Press-Out Paper Town from Usborne. Consisting of a Town Hall, flower shop, grocer, and cafe, the project filled a fun hour, assembling the buildings and talking about the other structures and people that make up a town. OW (12)You can also emphasize the word this week as you drive around town!OW (10)
  • Bow: With cow taking a bow in our main title from the week, we needed to put on a show of course! Pull out costumes and use props, and when it’s over, be sure you take a bow.OW (21)
  • Crown: Wondering what costume to wear before you take your bow? We put together this simple heart crown and had a kingly performance!Heart Crowns (4)
  • Gown: If you have a child who likes to play dress-up, pull out any of the gowns in mommy’s closet for your costumed play, too. (I use the term “gown” loosely here – any fancy dress will do!). Travis liked using mine as props and scenery!OW (22)
  • Clown: Kids love clowns, even if I find them creepy! The videos from Bimbi the Funny Clown got huge belly laughs.
  • Vowel: Finally, I touched briefly on the fact that 5 letters get a special name: vowels. Travis thought the concept was neat, which hopefully serves us well in phoneme weeks to come…OW (32)

Phonemes/Sound of the Week


Travis and I recently completed a fun Letter of the Week journey, spanning from September 2016 to March 2017. He is so interested in letters and words that I’ve jumped into a sound/phoneme of the week program, though it wasn’t my original intention to start this young! I hope you will find inspiration in the ideas I’ll post along the way, for learning and playing with your own children.

For each phoneme, I’ll focus on one title from Usborne Books & More’s Phonics Readers box set. With the book of the week as our guiding text and in loose combination with the ideas presented in Sound of the Week from Brightly Beaming Toddler, I’ll set up games and ideas to accompany each letter pair. In addition, we’ll use the Wipe-Clean Alphabet Cards from Usborne each week to do some (very elementary!) tracing of the two letters that make up that week’s phoneme.

A few caveats: First, Trav is not yet 3, and I obviously don’t expect him to be reading by the time I finish 20 or so weeks of this “curriculum.” Rather, I adore exposing him to a love of language and to the magic that happens when letters combine and take on meaning. Having a guiding sound – and words that go along with it – helps me to introduce new games, concepts, and toys each week that keep our playtime fresh. This program is ideal, therefore, for parents or caregivers who are at home with a toddler the majority of the day, or for parents intending to preschool their 2, 3, and 4 year olds.

Second, I’m posting the phonemes in random order, so there is no correct way in which to schedule the weeks. You might find that some of the sounds and accompanying words lend themselves to certain seasons (e.g. save “SH” for when you can go to the SHore and collect SHells in the summer!).

Finally, because I want his brain to absorb and process all this new info, I’ll be spending closer to 10 days to 2 weeks on each letter pair, versus the one week we spent on single alphabet letters.

That’s enough preamble! Overall, the idea here is not to impose a curriculum on Travis; it is to learn through play, and to feel joy together each day. Pick and choose the parts that work for you, and above all remember to enjoy.