Tag Archives: muffin tin games

Building Literacy in the Kitchen

Between prepping meals, eating meals and cleaning up after meals, my family spends the majority of our waking time in the kitchen.  Our kitchen also opens into the hearth room which adds to the number of hours spent in this area.  So, this got me thinking about what one could do in the kitchen to help promote literacy development in our youngsters.  The ideas kept flowing, so I thought I’d share some of the better ones with you!

Salt or Sugar Writing

Tactile learners will enjoy practicing letter or word writing with their finger in a shallow container of salt or sugar.  When they are done, store the sugar or salt in a labeled Ziploc bag for future use.

ABC of Spices

Have you had some spices in the back of the cupboard for years?  Pull them all out (Throw out the ones that don’t have a scent anymore!) and let your child put them in ABC order.  Not only will it provide a literacy opportunity for your child, but it will also organize your life.  I’ve had my spice cabinet alphabetized for years.  It makes cooking so much easier.

Menu Creation

For over a year now, I’ve created a weekly dinner menu and posted it on one of my favorite blogs, This Week for Dinner.  I’ve found that it has decreased our grocery bill and has helped me to create more balanced meals.  Creating a menu for a day or week is a great activity to do with your kids.  This especially works well with picky eaters.  If you allow the kids to have some input into planning the menu, they generally will try more foods.  Pull out some cookbooks, and pick out some new recipes out to try.  You are not only helping your child make food choices, but you are helping them develop their reading and writing skills.  Kids could post the weekly menu on the refrigerator or display it on the table for the whole family to see.  Then, get the kids to help you create a grocery list to support the menu!  Oh, the real world writing possibilities!

Tasting Passport

A tasting passport is an extension of the idea above.  Create a passport complete with your child’s picture.  On each page your child can draw a picture of a new food or cuisine they have tried.  Younger children can label each picture using inventive spelling.  Older children can write about each tasting experience.  The goal is to see how many passport pages your child can fill.  What a great way to get picky eaters to try new foods.

Muffin Tin Reading Games

Last year, I posted several muffin tin literacy games that use a muffin tin and a few other supplies.  It is my most popular post to date.  If you haven’t seen it, check it out.

Pancake Letters and Sounds

For an extra special breakfast, make pancakes shaped like letters.  Then, during breakfast, have your child brainstorm words that begin with the sound each pancake shaped letter represents.

aWhy not share the book, Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie DePaola during this special morning time too.

A variation of this to idea and use it when baking bread or pretzels.

Spaghetti Letters

Let your youngster form letters using strings of cooked spaghetti.  This is a simple activity for your child to do while you are prepping something in the kitchen.

Placemats

Have your child create placemats for tonight’s dinner.  Simply give your child some paper and crayons/markers and a literacy starter.  Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  •  Draw your favorite scene from a book you read today.
  •  Pick a letter sound and draw or write as many things as you can think of that begin with that sound.
  •  Divide your placemat into three sections.  Draw a picture of the beginning, middle and end of a story we read today.
  •  Write a note to each family member and then decorate it.
  •  Create and decorate a name poem for each family member on their very own placemat.

M- Memory keeper

O- Outstanding cook

M- Master hugger

Don’t forget some of the common, simple and easy ideas such as using magnetic letters on the refrigerator to spell words.  The refrigerator is also a great canvas for displaying your child’s work.  Or, how about pulling out the cereal box and reading the nutritional label.  How do you help develop literacy in the kitchen?

Please check out the linky party page to see where this post has been linked to for the week.

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Muffin Tin Reading Games

A simple muffin tin can be the base for a variety of literacy games.  The other materials needed are inexpensive and  you probably have many of them on hand.  So, let’s get started.

1.  Sort-O-Roo

In this activity, children sort a list of preselected words into categories.   Helping children find spelling patterns improves their spelling.  The picture above shows a long a sort.  Long a can be spelled with an ai,ay, or a_e.  Yes, there are other ways that long a can be spelled.  You can use those for another sort.   For more information on word sorts see Words Their Way.  It is a great resource book that I used numerous times in the classroom.

Materials Needed: 1 muffin tin, 15 small post-its, 1 marker, word sort list (I really like the sorts from Words Their Way book.)

Select three spelling patterns and write each on a post-it.  Place on the rim of the muffin pan as seen above.    Next, write four words for each spelling pattern on post-its.  You will have a total of 12 words.  Shuffle the post-its and lay out on the table.  The child selects a word and decides what category to place the word under.

2.  Three in a Row

This game is a take on tic-tac-toe.  It helps a child to recognize sight words.  Sight words are those that need to be recognized automatically by sight.  They generally are not words that can be sounded out.

Materials Needed: 1 muffin tin, 12 paper cupcake liners, 1 marker, 1 Dolch sight word list, and a handful of place markers such as hard candy or cereal

On the bottom of each cupcake liner write a sight word.  Place each liner in a muffin tin cup.  You are ready to play!  One person calls out a word.  The other person takes a place marker and puts it in the correct cup.  When three in a row is achieved, you have a winner.

3.  Match-a-Roo

This activity allows a child to match an object with a word.  Here I used colors and color words.  You could also match Spanish words with their English equivalents.

Materials Needed: 1 muffin tin, 12 small post-its or small paper slips, 1 marker, a variety of small colored objects (In the picture above, I used removable colored dots, colored paper clips and marker caps.)

Place a colored object in each muffin tin.  Next, write each corresponding word on a post-it or other small paper slips.  The child then takes the words and places each in the correct tin.

4.  Toss and Answer

This activity allows a little gross motor excercise while practicing some vocabulary words.  Developing a child’s vocabulary increases their reading and writing ability.  I’m a big fan of Isabel Beck’s work with vocabulary.  She talks about three tiers of words.  Tier 1 words are those concrete words we pick up pretty naturally such as table, chair, and dog.  Tier 3 words are specific to a subject area such as polygon and photosynthesis.  Tier 2 words are words that we see across multiple contexts and need to be specifically taught to children.  See the 12 examples above in the picture.

Materials Needed: 1 muffin tin, 12 small post-its or small paper slips, 1 marker, Tier 2 word list,  a soft object to toss into the tin

Select 12 vocabulary words (words should have already been introduced to the child) and write each on a post-it or small paper slip.  Place one word in each tin.  The child takes the soft ball and tosses it into the tin.  Whatever word it lands on is the word to utilize for that turn.  For round one have the child define the word in their kid language.  Memorizing dictionary definitions is useless.  In round two, the child can use the word in a creative sentence.  For round three, have the child name something that does not fit with the word.  For example, if the word was shy, the child could say a politician who walks up to strangers and talks to them is not shy.  It’s important for children to manipulate the word in many different formats so that the vocabulary word becomes more natural for them.

So, one muffin tin can provide numerous learning opportunities for your child.  Can you think of literacy uses for muffin tins?  I’d love for you to share your ideas.

I’ve also linked up to Thrifty Thursday Linky Party and The Mommies May Me Do It.