I’m sharing some favorite posts from the past as I spend some extra time with family.
While working within a farm theme with some emerging young readers recently, I used one of my favorite delivery systems for spelling work: Scrambled Eggs. It’s essentially a word scramble, but I make it more hands-on by writing or typing out the words, then cutting them into small squares and placing them in a plastic egg. (This worked particularly well within the farm theme since we had been talking about chickens producing eggs!)
After reading a great farm story (I like Margaret Wise Brown and Felicia Bond’s book, Big Red Barn and Farm Life by Elizabet Spurr) we then talked about some of the farm animals. Using pictures I had printed from a quick search on the computer, we laid out a few of the animals that would be found on the farm. We talked about each animal and what we knew about it (this reinforces the concepts we had been discussing and also builds meaning for the print we will be working with). Next, I brought out the printed words for each picture. We stretched out the words and matched them to their pictures. Then we placed the words and pictures together in a pocket chart so everyone could see. We talked about the way the letters worked together to make the word representing the animal. I used simple animal names like: cow, pig, horse, cat, dog….and of course, hen (that’s where the egg comes from of course — or is it the hen that came from the egg?).
I showed the children how a scrambled egg works. Opening up my sample egg, I talked about the letters I had and then looked at the words in the pocked chart, comparing the letters and thinking out loud to model the process. Once I found enough matching letters, I formed my letters into the corresponding word and then got the picture and set it down by my word.
Splitting the group into pairs, I handed each pair and egg and challenged them to look at the letters inside and determine which animal word they had. I was surprised by how quickly the groups got to work and took on the challenge. They quickly found the matching letters and constructed their words, helping their partners and explaining their ideas as they worked. Once everyone was done, they took a quick walk around the group area to check each other’s work.
Everyone agreed it was a job well done, and they were eager to play again!
This activity is a great way to work on literacy skills at a variety of levels. First of all, it reinforces the basic concept of print: that words are made from letters. Alphabet knowledge is also brought into play as the children recognize the letters in their eggs and compare them to letters in a word. Beginning readers will also use their phonics skills as they may sound out the words rather than simply copy them from the list. Particularly with the repetition that comes within a thematic unit, some children will begin to recognize some of the words by sight. Lastly, forming the words with pre-formed letters will support emergent writing skills.
You can also adapt the Scrambled Eggs activity for a variety of purposes. Use it to help young children learn to form their names. Work with early readers using sight words or color words or simple consonant-vowel-consonant words. Scramble spelling words for older children to practice. You can even take it beyond the realm of literacy and use it to teach number sense. Insert a range of numbers (4, 5, 6, 7 or 10, 20, 30, 40 as just two possible examples) and have children put them in ascending order.
By using an exciting delivery method and a playful attitude, learning quickly becomes fun!