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EARLY YEARS SERIES: Message in the Bottle

23 March 2015

To motivate early readers

1.     Write a simple word on some paper and hide them in a bottle (any bottle, but preferably one with a screw cap and that they can get their fingers into).

2.     Do this for 5 or 6 different words

3.     Hide a photo, picture or an object of that word around the house or garden. If you have a sand box, bury it in there!

4.     Encourage your child to go and find the treasure! First they have to open the bottle and sound out each letter, blending the sounds together to read the word. Once they have read the word,  then they can go and hunt for the picture!

5.     Count to 10 slowly before you help your child to read the word (they need time, no matter how awkward this may feel) but do help them read the word if they are struggling, you certainly don’t want them to loose confidence.



Example of some words could be:


cat, dog, fish, doll, pen, peg, bat, rat, bell, ten, bed, pig, leg, box, vet, ship, map, and so on.


more challenging words could also include: tree, bee, sing, long, shell, ring, and so on


You could also play the same game with rhyming words or numbers.


To make it more interesting, get into the pirate theme, dress up and make a treasure map, you could even bob the bottles in a bath of water, as if the message in a bottle has been washed up to shore..

The picture shows some of the work of the 4 and 5 years old in my class. They took their learning on even further by writing their own message in a bottle. We pretended the pirates had left some of their things behind and we needed to tell them. They wrote what they pulled out of the pirate’s sack and wrote it down. They rolled up the paper (great for mortor skills, too!) and put it in a bottle for the pirates.


I love the fact that the best ideas come from the children themselves!