Five minute fun activities for busy people to do with little kids

Games + Activities

Silly Soup

I recently ran a little poll on my Instagram page to see if anyone would like to see the games I am doing with Ewan to support his reception class phonics and numeracy. I figured I started this page based on games for pre-school age really and perhaps people would rather I stuck to games for ages 1-4 rather than 4+. However the response was overwhelmingly in favour of YES. I won’t stop the pre-school stuff don’t worry!

Every so often I will pop up the Phonics or maths games I am doing with Ewan after school. We try to do an activity every day before he’s allowed TV or iPad chill time. Tricky? Yes, but we attempt it. And if it doesn’t happen, we do a five minute game before school after breakfast. I still always use the golden rule for games. For Homework I rely on routine.

At the moment Ewan (age 4.5) is great with his letters. He’s grasped all of his Phase 2 Phonics sounds pretty well. But when it comes to blending them together to form a word he’s not up for it. He finds it hard and therefore it’s a turn off. So I need some games to make this element of reading a bit more fun.

This game is called Silly Soup and anyone who has worked with children in EYFS will have played it or a version of it I’m sure. But no-one tells the parents!!! Except me. Ha. I’m blowing the top right off all those teacher secrets aren’t I?! 😉

Blending the sounds together to read a word is a hard leap to make. Try telling them to say the sounds in long, slow voices as you point to them. Then get faster and faster until eventually they can hear the word forming. Tell them this is how we can ‘crack the code’ by being a detective and working out the words from the sound clues. All these little things can help but the key is to PLAY!



A large bowl, a large spoon, two colours of paper, a pen, scissors, and a little bowl.

The on one colour of paper write loads of consonants and on the other two sets of vowels, cut them out, fold them up and chuck them into the big bowl. Follow the Golden Rule.

When they want to play, you tell them we are going to make some SILLY SOUP!

  1. Mix up the letters in the big bowl saying “Silly soup, silly soup, we’re going to make some silly soup”
  2. They need to get out three letters. Two consonants and one vowel to make CVC words (consonant-vowel-consonant). We made the spoon flick these into the air.
  3. Unfold the letters and form your silly word. It’s more likely than not going to make a word that isn’t real ZOK, KAM, DOV, PUM etc. That’s OK. I explain why below*
  4. Help them to blend the sounds together to make the crazy word. Laugh about what it could be. Is it an alien name or a robot word?
  5. When they’ve blended the word, pop it in the little bowl and let them tip the silly soup over your head or their head. Whichever they find funnier. Now make some more silly soup!

*So those words are all nonsense? Yes. Why? Well, Phonics is just ONE part of learning to read and write. Phonics is a technique to learn the sounds the letters make to help figure out the words. The other thing we need to do is memorise words we can’t sound out with phonics (tricky words). These two things combine so that we eventually can de-code the baffling language that is English. So for learning Phonics the words don’t need to make sense. We just need to know the sounds the letters make and then blend them together to form a word. It’s a technique. And so learning the technique with nonsense words is just as useful as words that make sense. And in fact, it’s a good way to check the little ones are actually practicing the technique rather than just memorising words through context. Make sense? If not, please email me!

So that’s silly soup. You can still play this for younger ones and just do letter recognition. They sound out the letters but you blend for them. You could even do it for sums with a load of numbers and make ‘Number Soup’! Either way, make it silly and soupy and they will happily learn something through play.

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