Sounds Right Blog
TOP 5 Pumpkin Inspired Activities
By Sounds Right Phonics on 19 October 2017

With Halloween just around the corner here are our top five pumpkin activities:

1.       PRINTING

 We used orange and green paint as well as halved apples and potatoes to make pumpkin inspired pictures.


Scrubbing muddy pumpkins with scrubbing brushes is good for fine motor skills plus everyone loves water play. We threw all our pumpkins in the kitchen sink and both kids enjoyed scrubbing them clean.Using tools like scoops and spoons is good practise for pre-schoolers and feeling the contents is both sensory but also develops rich language.

3.           PLAY DOUGH

Use orange playdough and pipe cleaners to make your own pumpkins. Great fine motor skills practise rolling and balling the dough as well as counting skills.

4.       BOWLING

Improve gross motor skills with some pumpkin bowling using the pumpkin instead of a ball. You can use a skittle set if you own one or some used plastic bottles do the trick too.

5.       HAMMERING

Saving the best until last…hammering tees into pumpkins to build hand strength and practise using one handed tools.

Mark making on a ‘roll’ by Guest Blogger Rachel Stein
By Sounds Right Phonics on 9 October 2017

This week's blog comes courtesy of our Woodford and Chigwell franchisee: Rachel Stein.

Mark making on a ‘roll’

We love painting and getting crafty in our house. Painting for us never just involves paper, paints and brushes; we believe that you can paint with pretty much any material and medium (we have even been know to paint with forks and cake batter!)

So we decided to find different items found around the house to paint with. After a successful hunt, we collected a variety of different textures, including: cling film, bubble wrap, elastic bands, foam shapes and a rolling pin.

We chose ‘Halloween-y’ colours to paint with, to get into the October mood and get our ‘spook’ on; orange, black, purple and green.


Black ‘bubble-wrap’ polka dots

We started by covering the rolling pin with paper, to protect it from getting stained, and secured it with tape. We then wrapped the rolling pin with bubble wrap, bubble side up, and secured with double sided tape.

Next, we painted the bubble wrap with black paint. You could roll the bubble wrap in the paint to coat it, but we decided to use a paint brush so that we could get a good coverage.

Once fully coated in paint, we rolled the bubble-wrap/ rolling-pin straight onto coloured paper. It was so much fun to see the pattern emerge beneath the roller, and great hand/ eye co-ordination practise.

We made polka dots over and over, and couldn’t wait to see what other patterns we could create.

    Orange ‘cling-film’ tree bark

We repeated the process above to create a tree-bark effect. Again, we protected the rolling pin with paper, and then wrapped it in cling film, and bunched it up to create a rougher texture.

Be careful not to add too much paint onto the cling film, otherwise you lose the texture. But as shown in the images, as the paint thins out, it creates a lovely tree-bark effect. So much collage potential!!!


Purple ‘Elastic band’ winter forest

Next, we gave the elastic bands a good stretch, and roughly tied them around the protected rolling pin. Then we got messy with our favourite colour…PURPLE!

I would recommend only adding paint onto the elastic bands, rather than painting the whole rolling pin. That way, you can create a sharper, crisper looking texture.

I just love the spook potential created here; it looks like spindly trees in a winter forest.

Green ‘foam-shapes’ footprints

Lastly, we used foam hand and foot prints, and stuck them directly onto the paper covered rolling pin using double side tape (but glue would work fine too).

We applied paint directly onto each foam shape, and rolled away. Once each print dries, you can outline the shapes with a black marker to make them really pop, and add details to create some real master pieces!

 I’m sure there’s a whole world of textures to explore with this painting technique, and with so many ways to get creative; the possibilities are endless!

Have fun and get rolling.

Malleable Materials with the Little Miss
By Sounds Right Phonics on 3 October 2017


Mouldable Soap

We haven’t done a great deal of messy play for a while so with the boy at school I thought it would be a perfect chance for us to get messy again. In doing so we will improve fine motor skills, explore mark making, extend language, get messy and have lots of fun.

I purchased some mouldable soap from Home Bargains for a bargain price. She enjoyed watching it being squirted onto the tray and we talked about the shapes we could see. She thought they looked like little snowy hills. She tried to squirt it herself but found it a bit too tricky.

She was a little bit apprehensive at first and not too keen on getting stuck in but with encouragement she submerged her whole hand. Initially she wanted it to be washed away and didn’t like it touching her but with encouragement she persevered and was soon making marks and trying to recreate the snowy hills and generally covering herself with it.

Busy Before Breakfast
By Sounds Right Phonics on 26 September 2017

Busy Before Breakfast – Fine Motor Skills

Starting school has meant some new routines in our house. Gone are the days we can laze around in PJs and do a spot of art and craft here and there. In order to avoid failing into the rut of breakfast and telly before school I introduced an activity each morning. I put the activity out the night before so that they could come down and discover it and get stuck in, with minimal support, while I made their breakfast. So far it has worked a treat. We have started with a focus on fine motor skills as this is an area that my son (the school boy) still struggles with.

Tweezers and pompoms

Simple as it sounds. Pom poms in a pot and some tweezers. I added different coloured containers to add a colour sort element in too. The school boy enjoyed this one although he did say it made this hands hurt as he found squeezing the tweezers tricky – perfect for building hand strength then.

Fruit Kebabs

I prepared some fruit the night before and then when they woke up presented it on the table along with thin wooden skewers. They threaded the fruit on and made their own kebabs - and a healthy breakfast treat.

Nuts and Bolts

We have a plastic set of nuts and bolts which we have enjoyed playing with for a good while now. Instead I used metal ‘proper’ nuts and bolts and just left them to be discovered on the table. The school boy got to work, his little fingers working hard, to unscrew the bolts. He delighted in separating the two.

Dot to Dot

Must have been Friday as I grabbed a dot to dot book from the cupboard and some pens. The boy practised his pen control and number skills with this activity. He even coloured the picture in further improving his pen control


As well as eating breakfast we made use of the cereal to do a threading activity and make some bird feeders. We threaded breakfast hoops onto a pipe cleaner and then hung it in the garden for the birds.

Colour Sorting

Another simple activity. I grabbed our coloured compare bears and some coloured containers and he sorted them according to colour. Picking up the tiny bears helped his fine motor skills.

You can follow our #busybeforebreakfast fun on instagram @soundrightkids

Do Try This at Home...All about U
By Sounds Right Phonics on 14 August 2017


 This week we have been exploring U. We made use of the warm weather and used the garden for some of activities this week. It is so lovely to be able to play and learn outside.

It’s Raining It’s Pouring


Both my two LOVE nursery rhymes – the youngest one especially and you can always hear her singing to herself. I decided to bring It’s raining, It’s pouring to lie with real umbrellas as it wasn’t raining we used the hose which they thought was delightful. They hid under their umbrella while I sprayed them. In between the hysteria and hiding we sang the song together.


Umbrella Painting

We used sponges and paintbrush to paint the umbrella. It is always nice to explore painting different things other than paper and this was especially fun as the children could get under the umbrella and almost be inside their painting. Painting on a curvy surface was a challenge too.


Writing U words

The boy’s handwriting is still in development so we use these cute Melissa and Doug stamps to try to spell some u words. Using stamps (rather than writing) is helpful as he could concentrate primarily on the spelling and the sounding out and didn’t have to worry about the letter writing too. Writing is obviously important but in this activity I just wanted him to practise segmenting. Selecting the correct letter stamen was good letter recognition too. 


As an extension to last week's obstacle course we also explored going under. We set up some under challenges in the garden and the children explored going under.


Do Try This At Home...all about O
By Sounds Right Phonics on 2 August 2017

Excuses, excuses but festivals and holidays have slightly brought a halt to the blog but we are back. Trying to complete all single letter sounds before the biggest one starts school in what is now just over 5 weeks. Arghh how can that be. We will have to work at speed to complete our mission. Initially we had hoped to spend a week on letter related activities but as we have fallen a little behind it now will have to be a few days! So here is what fun we had for O week.


Obstacles Course

What child doesn’t love an obstacle course? What’s more this activity can take place inside or outside depending on the weather. Or both - to give a variety of equipment. We used the garden on a lovely sunny day and utilised all sorts of objects but tried to vary the skills so the children experience climbing over, crawling through, jumping and running. An obstacle course is super to develop gross motor skills which in turn help handwriting as well as being a wonderful workout – as you can see from the photo the sixteen year old cousin even joined in!!



After the success of the garden centre we launch O week with an optician’s role play area. Fuelled by her Peppa Pig obsession the Little one is already interested in the opticians as it features in a Peppa Pig episode so it seemed a perfect thing to explore. The two bigger kids loved looking into each other’s eyes and reading the letter charts as well as trying on the glasses. We added paper and writing frames to encourage mark making and a till and coins for mathematical development. I modelled what to do first but before I knew it the boy was the optician and the girl the customer  and oh the fun they had, learning through play at its best.

Do Try This at Home...All About G
By Sounds Right Phonics on 1 July 2017

Grabbing Game

We grabbed the balls and I labelled them with letters using a permanent marker. The game was to grab the ball and identify the letter. Perfect for letter recognition practise.
For the little one I also included some sorting and we sorted the balls by colour as she grabbed them!! 
Garden Centre
The glorious weather meant we have been out in the garden lots. I set up a garden centre role play area complete with pots, watering cans and seeds. I added a till which supported mathematical development and some pads to encourage mark making too. This activity went down so well and both children played for a sustained duration. It was great for language extension too.
Tummy time is vital for babies but they need encouragement to remain on their tummy for a length of time. To do this we used glitter bags. These were made from shower gel and glitter in a sealed ziplock bag. We taped this to the floor so it didn't move and he explored squishing and prodding it. He was mesmerised by the glitter. 
Do Try this at Home...All About D
By Sounds Right Phonics on 1 July 2017

D is for Dinosuars

The boy is obsessed with dinosaurs to I used this to my own advantage. We got all the dinosaurs out of the toybox and began playing. I added some wooden letters into his play. Together we takes about the names of the dinosaurs and matched the initial sound.
The little one finds tricky words, well tricky so to aid this I made the tricky words using duplo. The idea is he will be able to remember or visualise the shape so a word like is is made of two equal blocks where as the is made of two tall blocks and a small one. I then wrote the letters on each block and we looked at the shapes together and talked about the tricky words.
Using lollipop sticks and a permanent marker I made a letter recognition game. We played the game together matching the letter sounds. This game was great for turn taking too. I left the dominoes out and found him matching the letters independently 
It wouldn't be d week without dough!! We love dough in our house. So open ended and super for fine motor skills as well as using one handed tools. 
Do Try this at Home...All About M for Toddlers and Babies
By Sounds Right Phonics on 7 June 2017

M week for the baby and toddler has included lots of messy play. It was such fun that the preschooler joined in with many of the activites too.


I have said before that I don’t do enough messy play with my children. Like many I am sure, clearing up generally puts me off. However, M most definitely had to be for mud so we went for it this week. Firstly we started quite tamely with a mud kitchen and we made mud pies and muddy cups of tea. After this I got a bit braver and filled the tough spot with mud! I coincidentally had also filled a large bucket with water for plastic ducks to swim in. Before I knew it the ducks have been turned out and the mud had been added!!!!! Eek! Taking a deep breath the little girl mixed the mud to make soup and a general mess but she LOVED it. This muddy activity lasted for a sustained duration with the girl even getting her feet in. My son – who is usually mess phobic – got swept along with the excitement and soon he was knee high in the muddy potion!


Mixing Table

Off the back of the muddy fun I organised a mixing table for her to experiment further and make more potions. I added a range of items: pasta, rice, quinoa, glitter and coloured water. She adored spooning materials into little pots and squirting water and glitter in before mixing them all together. Great for making choices, improving fine motor skills, exploring different textures and role play. We extended this by raiding the herbs in the garden and added rosemary and lemon balm leaves to explore smells too.


Meringue Bash

It has been a week of messy play (well it was M week after all). This activity involved baby, toddler and pre-schooler. Armed with toy hammers I emptied meringues and the children hammered and bashed the break the meringues up. Super for building arm strength. Needless to say a fair bit of sugar was consumed during the activity!



The baby loves looking himself in the mirror. What baby doesn’t? The baby had many opportunities this week to look in mirrors and he loved it. Chatting to the aby about what he could see, introducing body parts like eyes, nose and chin all extend his vocabulary.

Do Try This at Home...All about M
By Sounds Right Phonics on 7 June 2017

M week as include lots of mud (more about that in the toddler and bay blog), matching, minbeasts and marbles.

Matching Game

In order to learn to blend fluently enough to read children needs lots of opportunities to practise. Making blending games makes it a bit more fun! In this game we had four words with a matching picture. The boy sounded out m-a-t the word and then m blended it (mat). He then tried to find the matching picture. At this early stage of his reading career he says the sounds aloud (and I help him with any he is unsure of.) I then give him opportunity to blend independently. However, he sometimes says the sounds so slowly they don't sound like a word at all so I repeat the sounds and let him blend the together. This builds his confidence and makes him feel like a reader rather than a four year old stumbling over sounds.

Mark Making

Not wanting to gender stereotype but up until recently my boy did not, would not, put pen to paper. He has softened his stance on this of late and I believe this is primarily down to the many many mark making opportunities that we have explored that aren't simply pens and paper. The list is endless but mark making with fingers in sand, paint, gel and salt. Carving out letters in the sand at the seaside and making marks with chalk on the pavement have all helped build his confidence (and fine motor skills) and made him believe that he is a writer. Beaming with pride when he has written marks to be words and letters that don't remotely look like what they should has all contributed to the writer he is now becoming!!


My little boy LOVES magazines. Generally he's drawn to the one with the best looking toy but I can usually steer him to a good old CBeebies one. We often pop to buy one from the local shop and then devour it together while his sister naps. It is wonderful quality time together. The CBeebies magazines have a wealth of activities which he loves working through and I love him doing activities that he is so motivated to do. This week we shared an Andy's Prehistoric Adventures magazine and we read stories and he made marks, peeled stickers, counted and coloured We were even inspired to make a mini beast hotel. Although they can be a bit pricey every now and again it's a lovely treat (both for him and me) and worth the money.