A Couple Apps for the New Year

 HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!   I have been soooo busy soaking up time with my little ones as a working mom that I haven’t made time for posts.   But I assure you, I have TONS in the “Posts Drafts” Section of my website that I my new year’s resolution is to share 😉

Here is a quick share for you…

My sister showed me this Montessori Crosswords App that her TWO YEAR OLD was playing and I immediately wanted it on my phone for my little one.   It amazes me how many tools there are in the tech world these days and I love learning about them.







This App is a letter-sound matching tool that sounds out the first, middle, and ending sound of each word one letter-sound at a time.  A child matches the letter to its sound by dragging and dropping the letter in the correct space.   If a child isn’t sure what letter matches the sound, he/she can click on the question mark at the top to show the way the word should look.  Then, the skill changes to a letter recognition skill.

I was amazed that my niece was using deductive reasoning to figure out the right letter that makes the matching sound.   She was either trying different letters until she found the correct one or she was using the self-correct options to check the right letter.

See what I mean here:

This App is great for ages 2-7  in my opinion.  It is a great pre-requisite for phonetic spelling.

My two year old has known all of his upper case for almost a year, but this is a great tool to help him with lower case letter recognition by changing the letter case option to lower.

I don’t like to buy apps but this is one that I caved in and forked out the $2.99 because I know what a reading benefit this kind of tool can be.   Check it out and let me know what you think.

The Montessori Numbers App from the same group is pretty great too! It covers Numbers, Quantities, Numerals, Numerals from quantities, and tracing.  Awesome skills to build on!







Leave a comment with other Apps you like….I love to check them out and see what’s out there 🙂

Mystery Letter Game

When I am working with beginners on reading simple books, I like to do letter-sound warm ups like today’s activity.  But this activity can also be done without a book in hand, just by using your surroundings.

I would simply use an alphabet spinner like the one below, a scattergories dice, or a grab bag of letters (or ABC flash cards) and just have the little ones stick their hand in the bag and pull out a letter….so any of these 3 materials will do.













Then depending on what letter is chosen, ask the little one to name the letter, the sound and to find something in their book that starts with that sound….it can be a word or a picture, but for beginner readers it is better for them to find a picture because then your little one will learn the strategy to use the picture clues to help them figure out the words in a book.

This game can also be played by having your little one look around the room for something that starts with the letter-sound chosen.

A Puppet for Every Letter of the Alphabet

When I teach little ones the alphabet or awareness of the sounds for each letter of the alphabet, I like to incorporate visuals that can represent the letter – like stuffed animals, puppets, or dolls.  Each week that I focused on a different letter I had a stuffed animal or puppet as a mascot for the letter all week.  I would use the puppet to speak for me:  “______ do you see anything that starts with the /_/ sound?”  or the puppet would “help me” introduce the letter by telling the little ones how to make the letter, how to make the letter sound, how to match the uppercase letter to the lower, and how to find things that started with the letter-sound by using the puppet as a clue.

When using a puppet/stuffed animal as a tool, it is easy to grab the attention of a child….even if you feel silly at first.   It also pays off in the long run because it really helps your little one to recall information about the letter and letter-sound based on the memory of the puppet you used to teach about it.  You can write a letter on a small blank card and attach it to the stuffed animal or not.  It can be simple or a little more detail-oriented, but just use your resources and take it one letter at a time.

Initiate the stuffed animal letter awareness by stating something simple like: did you know that your doll’s name starts with the letter “s” and it stands for the sound /s/ like silly, spots, stripes, and soda?  What other things in our house start with the same sound as Samantha?  Maybe Samantha can help us find some other things that start with “s.”







I used a sock puppet snake with some stripes and spots glued to the top as my “s” puppet, because I was given a set of puppets based off of the awesome oldschool books:

Alphabet Stories: Puppets and Picture Stories that Teach Letter Recognition and Sounds (Makemaster Blackline Masters) and Alphabet Puppets: Songs, Stories and Cooking Activities for Letter Recognition and Sounds

They have stories full of alliteration made up about each puppet and DIY puppet making tutorials as well.  “Alphabet Stories” is printables.  “Alphabet puppets” is for all you crafty people who like to sew.

But, you know you….just do what you can do 🙂

Rhyming Riddles

Today’s skill is a continuation of all your little one has learned about rhyming from past posts, but the skill also works with manipulating the beginning sound in the rhyming words.  So this is a great rhyming activity for your little ones who are ready for a challenge.

You are going to explain to your little one that you are going to give them rhyming riddles to solve.  Tell him/her that you are going to ask them that rhymes with a word that starts with a certain sound.  For example:

Mommy Teacher:  Is there a word that rhymes with punch but starts with /b/?  *Dont forget that when you see letters with // you make the letter SOUND.

Make sure to give your little one 3-5 seconds of wait time.  Repeat one more time.  Then prompt them with the answer (bunch)

1. Think of a word that rhymes with silly but starts with /ch/. (chilly)

2. Think of a word that rhymes with ton but starts with /r/. (run)

3. Think of a word that rhymes with bunny but starts with /f/. (funny)

4. Think of a word that rhymes with way but starts with /d/. (day)

5. Think of a word that rhymes with ball but starts with /t/. (tall)

6.  Think of a word that rhymes with fake but starts with /l/. (lake)

Come up with more riddles on your own specific to the skills you are currently working on with your little one!

After rhyming with the words funny and bunny I couldn’t help but use this picture of my sister from 1987/88.  I mean, she’s eating a carrot! And it was NOT Halloween or Easter either.

Personalized ABC Book

A few years ago I decided to make my super-amazing niece a personalized ABC book for Christmas.
To start, I wrote out the ABCs in a powerpoint document (one letter per slide) and then I inserted pictures that I had of my niece and her loved ones in front of the letter that corresponded to the beginning sound, like this:

A –  picture of Kaylee at an “Astros” Game

B –  picture of Kaylee with her “Becca”

C –  picture of Kaylee with her Uncle “Chris”

D –  picture of Kaylee with her “Daddy”    and so on.

I put the book to a song so that Kaylee could read it and develop fluency independently.  The song was Dr. Jean’s “Who Let the Letters Out” to the tune of “Who Let The Dogs Out?” For each letter the page read “Who let the “A” out? /a/ /a/ /a/  astros and you simply replace the letters like this “/a/” with the letter sound.  Then,I printed the pages onto colored cardstock, laminated them, and bound them together with a spiral.







Kaylee called my husband “Patrick Uncle” when she was two.



















This would be a great book for you to make for your little one because it really makes the letter-sound associations so meaningful.

My sister, Ali (the beautiful “Mommy” on the letter M page), had a GREAT idea….  When she went to re-create the book for a friend, she started a digital book (examples are shutterfly, mypublisher, or snapfish).







Here she added a dedication and a title page with the instructions.







And here she added the words in ABC order in the user friendly way that you would read/sing the lyrics.  She was going to add pictures of the word associations in the drop-boxes after she received them.

This method of making the book is really practical because these companies make it pretty foolproof and they send you the bound book which looks very professional.  So, it is up to you – if you are the type of person who likes to make things by hand or if you are the type who likes to save the time and make it online!  Either way, if you make one, send me a picture or attach it to the Mommy Teacher Page to share with other mommies!



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