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Metal Mike Phonics Robot

When teaching early phonics, a Metal Mike phonics robot is a staple in my classroom! The children are his biggest fan, they all want to have a go and play with him. It's even better that he's made from easy to source items. So, why not make one at home for your little early years explorer? Metal Mike is a robot that helps children to learn phonics. He loves munching on words, pictures or objects! All you need to do is sound talk the word to him, like a robot talks, and he will eat it! Which obviously, the children find hilarious!

When we teach early reading and writing, two of the crucial skills needed are segmenting and blending. Initially, children need to be able to do this orally:

- Can they hear and segment the sounds in simple words? When you say, "Cat", can they segment the sounds, "c-a-t"? We call this sound talking like a robot.

- Can they orally blend the sounds in words? When you tell them the sounds, "C-a-t", can they blend the sounds to say the word, "Cat"?

Metal Mike is a brilliant way to practise these skills with your child. You can use visual pictures or objects at first to sound talk until they consolidate these skills orally. Once that has been achieved, you can extend the activity by using words. Your child might be at this stage already. Once children can recognise the sounds by sight, they will be able to take a simple 3 letter word (CVC - consonant, vowel, consonant), for example 'cat' and segment and blend the sounds in the word to read it. So Metal Mike really is an enjoyable and excellent way for children to practise these skills for reading words too! It can be further extended to read CVCC/CCVC words like paint/frog, depending on where your child is up to.

What you need:

  • Cardboard box (I used a large cereal box)

  • Tinfoil or shiny paper

  • Card/paper (I used this to make the eyes)

  • Pipe cleaners (I used this for antennas)

  • Paper/pens (to write phonics words on) or objects/pictures

What I did:

  1. Cut a large hole for Mike's mouth in the cardboard box (make sure this is big enough to post your words or objects through).

  2. Wrap and stick tinfoil or shiny paper around the box so that it is covered. I tucked the paper into the mouth and glued it on the inside so that the hole for this mouth was still there. Make sure you leave an opening in the box at the top or the bottom, so that you can retrieve your words and objects when finished.

  3. Decorate your robot with eyes, antennas, arms, legs and be as creative as you want!

A little DIY craft project and a fun home learning activity that can be used time and time again to help with phonics learning! It will be your own child's creation and become their little learning buddy - what's not to love about it?


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