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An Early Literacy Superpower: Phonological Awareness

We’ve been celebrating early literacy all month long! The best part is seeing all the creative resources and ideas you use with your kids at home and in the classroom to develop these important early literacy skills. 

Candice Williams, Founder and CEO of Urby Education, discusses the importance of Phonological Awareness and shows off how she works in two of our favorite literacy products, Vowel Owls and one of our Exclusive Products, the Alphabet Bricks and Base Plates set. Be sure to watch her video at the end to see it up close!


March Blog

It’s National Reading Month, but sadly half of children in the United States struggle with reading. Children can begin to read independently before they enter kindergarten and the early literacy skill that they will need in order to reach this level: phonological awareness.

Wait, did I lose you already? I know that this term can be confusing to both parents and educators. In short, phonological awareness is the ability to hear and orally manipulate sounds in spoken language. Our words are made up of individual units of sounds called "phonemes". Phonological Awareness is an umbrella term, as this skill includes word recognition within sentences, rhyming, sound segmentation, syllables, and phonemic awareness (the ability to hear and manipulate sounds/phonemes). 

Did you know that Phonological Awareness should be taught everyday in grades K-2? Most schools don’t spend enough time on teaching these skills explicitly. A great reader is like a builder who is able to reach into their toolbox to use any tool when needed, and Phonological Awareness is the actual tool belt; it’s their literacy foundation! 

Don’t underestimate the simple power of understanding letter(s) and sounds, which is phonemic awareness. If a child knows 10 sounds, then they can read 350 three-sound words, 4,320 four-sound words, and 21,650 five-sound words. A preschooler can learn 10 letters and sounds easily, which means that they can also read up to 26,000 words! 

This is exactly why I tell parents that it’s never too early to start practicing early literacy skills.There are only 26 letters in the alphabet, but there are 44 sounds in the English language. How is this possible you ask? I’ll have to write another blog about that. But, just imagine how confused our kiddos become during their reading journey! 

Constructive Playthings makes teaching phonological awareness and phonemic awareness fun and effective! Get rid of those boring flashcards and check out some Alphabet Brick & Base Plates to build on their phonemic awareness skills. Have your kiddos practice phonemic awareness and phonological awareness with Vowel Owls. Doesn’t this sound way more fun?!

Come and visit me on social media, and I’ll show you how I use these resources, as well as others in my teaching everyday! Using a multi-sensory approach to learning is a research-based strategy, and colorful manipulatives are tools that I use to make reading fun.



Alphabet Bricks & Base Plates - BLC-208

1Artboard_1_2-100Vowel Owls Sorting Set - LER-5460

1Artboard_1_3-100Double-Sided Photo Magnetic Cards - LRI-445

1Artboard_1_4-100Alphabet Alligator  - DL-32

1Artboard_1_5-100Wooden Alphabet Floor Puzzle  - MYK-771


Have a moment to share with us? Be sure to tag us and use the hashtag #constructiveinsights in your post. We’d love to potentially feature you on our social feeds and/or in an upcoming email!

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Sensing Simple Play Opportunities

Through all stages of early childhood development, children naturally use their five senses to discover the world around them and it is our job to give them plenty of space and opportunities to do just that. In fact, did you know that sensory play is crucial to brain development? It’s true! Sensory play also encourages language development, aids in the development of motor skills, and promotes problem-solving. One of our favorite benefits of sensory play is that it also allows time for mindfulness, which is something we can all benefit from!

Although there are lots of fantastic resources and tools available, some of the best sensory play activities are simple: listening to different sounds of everyday life, playing in water, feeling different loose-part materials (even food, like rice) or tasting the different options on our plate at dinner! Even getting children outside creates a whole new world of sensory play right there at your fingertips--what can you see, hear, smell, taste and touch in nature? 

See how one of our customers took one of our favorite sensory play products and incorporated it further into sensory play, as well as creating opportunities for interactive play, open-ended play and imaginative play all at the same time! She let her daughter lead the way and we certainly enjoyed watching along: 


Tyler Johnson

Sensorial activities are used in Montessori learning to help children in discrimination and order. They also help broaden and refine a child’s senses.

I am always looking for materials and activities that will help develop my 26-month old daughter Keira’s five senses: hearing, touch, sight, taste, and smell. This wooden Guidecraft Tactile Search & Match puzzle from Constructive Playthings is perfect. Each puzzle piece disc has a different texture on it and will align to a spot on the puzzle board. I love wood toys and sensory play so I knew this material would be an awesome addition to our playroom!

In a traditional Montessori environment, teachers try to isolate just one of the five senses at a time for the child to work with. The Tactile Search & Match puzzle pieces can be aligned by texture by touch, by color or sight. So to fully isolate just the one sense of touch your child, you could close their eyes and feel the textures on the discs. However, Keira is not ready for that level of challenge, so I let her explore this new material using both her sense of touch and sight!

To add an additional sensory element I presented the sensory puzzles discs to her on a bed of rainbow rice. I find it fascinating to see how children decide to play with a toy or a new learning material. After she was done exploring the textured disk and matching them, she then used them as plates and started putting rice on them! I love her imagination.







Curved Sensory Balance Boards - KPI-50


Sensory Balls - RBB-20192p


Sensory Observation Set - CHG-86


Sensory Reflective Balls - CHG-201


Have a moment to share with us? Be sure to tag us and use the hashtag #constructiveinsights in your post. We’d love to potentially feature you on our social feeds and/or in an upcoming email!

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