Quick Literacy Tip – ‘Apple Tray Spelling Balls’

We love using recycled materials for props and prompts. We’re using a cardboard insert tray that had been used for displaying apples, along with some plastic balls. Supermarkets can be a treasure trove of craft resources as they’re often discarding boxes, trays and packaging. (just remember to ask permission before taking anything). If you don’t have any of these balls, they can be purchased in bulk by the bag.

Letter balls.

The tray acts as a grid for the balls, which have had letters drawn on with a permanent marker pen.

Combining kinaesthetic and visual learning techniques can be an effective way of helping children to grasp ideas that they’ve been struggling with. When children can literally see and feel the words in front of them, they often just ‘get it’. It’s a great way of practising tricky words or words they’ve been mixing up. Having a visual representation of a word to copy before attempting to write it down can also help build confidence. The balls are more forgiving than making errors on paper, as they can simply be rearranged until the child gets it right.

You could also easily adapt this set up for hangman style games, anagrams, or spelling games for more competent learners. For example, fill the grid with a set of letter balls picked at random, and see how many words they can make within a set time.

You could also paint the tray with a brightly coloured acrylic paint and staple it to a wall. Attach some velcro to both the balls and the inserts, and display your spellings on the wall. The great thing about this is that the acrylic paint will give a bit of protection to the cardboard, allowing you to reuse it – and of course, a bright background colour helps the words to stand out too!

What other ways do you use ball games with children to reinforce spellings and phonics? Let us know in the comments.

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