Rubber duck game – fun phonics for toddlers

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Rubber duck letters - a fun game to teach phonics for toddlers that you can even play at bathtime

3 materials: rubber duckies, a sharpie pen and a foam board are all you need for a fun game of phonics for toddlers! 
 
You can play this game on a table top or, to make it even more fun, play it in the bath!
 
Your child will have so much fun fishing out the little ducks to make words that they’ll hardly know that they are learning while they play.

These little rubber duckies will help your toddler to learn how to spell out those first simple words.

We found set of little rubber ducks very cheaply online. But if they’re tricky for you to find, you can also use ping pong balls or even pebbles instead. If you do this you can place them in round cut outs on the foam board or in egg cartons.

Summary:

Time: 10 minutes
Age: Toddlers to Little kids
Difficulty to make: Easy Peasy
Skill: Phonics: learning to spell simple words

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Rubber duck letters - a fun game to teach phonics for toddlers that you can even play at bathtime
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You will need:

  • Rubber ducks
  • Foam sheet. This can be replaced with a swimming float or plastic tray. 
  • Black Sharpie pen
  • Slotted spoon or tiny net (for playing in the bath)

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Rubber duck letters - a fun game to teach phonics for toddlers that you can even play at bathtime
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Step 1: Write letters on the little ducks’ backs

Using a black Sharpie pen write letters on the top of each rubber duck.

Use lower case letters and write the consonants and vowels you’ll need to make up your first simple words (see below for examples of some first words).

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Rubber duck letters - a fun game to teach phonics for toddlers that you can even play at bathtime
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Step 2: Write out your words

On a sheet of foam, draw circles or other shapes – 3 on each line. We drew little heart shapes for our ducks to sit on.

Now write one letter in each circle to make some words for your child to spell.

You can either use words that they are learning at school or, if your toddler is just beginning then start with the three-letter words that we suggest here such as ‘sat’ ‘bat’ ‘cat’ and other rhyming words all ending in ‘at’.

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Rubber duck letters - a fun game to teach phonics for toddlers that you can even play at bathtime
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Step 3: Ready to play

Your game is ready to play!

Ask your child to find the ducks with the right letters and to place them on the board to make up the words. They can pick them up or fish them out of a bowl or even bath using a slotted spoon or net.

As they pick up each duck ask them to tell you what sound the letter makes. If they are just starting out with phonics you can sound out each letter for them.

Then they can place the duck on the matching letter on your board. Once they have put down all three ducks in a row, ask them to put the sounds together to read the word.

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Rubber duck letters - a fun game to teach phonics for toddlers that you can even play at bathtime
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Step 4: Splish splash splosh. Watery letter fun.

You can play this game anywhere in the home. But it works great if you play it in water, like at bath time or in a paddling pool on a sunny summer’s day.

You could even fill a plastic storage box with water and let the kids fish out the ducks that way.

Scoop them out using a slotted spoon or a little fishing net and place them in the right position on your foam word mat.

Make word boards with different words, progressing as your child learns more phonics. You can start with a list of simple rhyming words (like cat, hat, mat OR hop, mop, top) and then move onto more difficult words such as ‘sh’ words (shop, fish, wish, shut).

As they get older you can use this game to write out any tricky words your child has been asked to learn for homework. Who said spelling homework had to be done at a writing desk?

 

Rubber duck letters - a fun game to teach phonics for toddlers that you can even play at bathtime