There are many wonderful (and super fun) ways for our little ones to practice putting letters together into CVC words. This activity is for budding archeologists and explorers who must not only uncover letters, but guess what each word might be in advance. One of the benefits of guessing, and hopefully writing, CVC words is that during play they have to focus intently on each sound and how it works in words.
How to Prepare:
For just one child doing the activity alone, an adult needs to place a letter in each space to make a word, making sure they are covered by ‘dirt.’ (Tip: if there’s too much ‘dirt’ it’s difficult to properly uncover the letter). When done in pairs, each child chooses a word and hides the letters under the ‘dirt,’ making sure their partner doesn’t see what letters they’re using. Then the children switch containers and start the activity in order to discover their friend’s word.
What is Archeology?
I have created this free printable, What is Archeology, for you to use to introduce the concept of archeology to your kids. A short discussion about archeology will help children understand the concept of making educated guesses and then changing those guesses as you gain more information. It will also highlight the importance of using their brushes gently.
How to Play:
To start, the space on the left is dusted off to reveal the first letter.
In this scenario ‘b’ is written down on the recording sheet and then a guess is made. Could the word be bug? Write it down as Guess 1 on the recording sheet. They might like to add a question mark so it’s ‘bug?’ Then the middle space is uncovered to reveal the second letter.
If the letter is ‘a’ the child writes ‘ba’ and then decides again what the word might be. Perhaps they write ‘bat’ in the Guess 2 column. Finally, the third letter is uncovered.
Now that they have the full word (bag) it can be written in the Answer column of the recording sheet. As they’re working in pairs it would be good for both to look at their guesses to see how accurate they were. They might also enjoy using made-up/silly words in their guesses and practice pronouncing each others’ for a laugh. The only requirement is that they follow the CVC word structure (consonant – vowel – consonant). There are plenty of lines on the recording sheet so hopefully one sheet will be enough for a few play sessions.
Creating the Activity
Recycled Version: I simply used an old food container and taped in 2 pieces of cardboard from toothpaste packaging.
Clay Version: I bought air-drying clay and, using another food container for a mould, created a clay version and left it to dry for a few days. The clay is easy to use so kids could make their own with a little help making the dividers. The one tip I would suggest is to line the container mould with cling film so it will easily lift out to dry. Children can use toothpicks to create ‘hieroglyphs’ on the sides while the clay is still wet. (Additional note: I found a recipe for making your own clay on Homeschool-ideas.com. I haven’t tried it yet, but thought I’d add the link in case it’s useful).
Earth substitute: I love different colours and textures and the mix pictured here was just what I happened to have in my cupboard at the time: oats, poppy seeds, salt, red lentils, barley and a sprinkle of fennel for a lovely scent. As long as the ‘earth’ stays dry it should last for quite a while. Remember: don’t put too much ‘earth’ in each section or it will be difficult to brush off the letters completely.
Magnets: If you are using magnetised letters adding magnet strips at the bottom of the 3 segments will keep the letters still while the children carefully brush around them.
Brushes: I use the cheapest wooden paint brushes I can find but any appropriately sized brush would be fine – even a toothbrush!
I hope this post encourages you to create your own CVC archeological ‘site’ ~ it’s super fun and maximises learning!
What other ingredients would make great, tactile ‘dirt?’ I’d love to hear your suggestions!
For another great CVC activity with beautiful printables visit CVC Transport Mats for Play Dough and Driving.