The boys also worked with a sound bin today for the sound "oa" as in "boat." I put together a basket full of objects for them to explore together. I don't like to be handcuffed to the idea of only using "miniatures" for these types of activities. I tend to use a larger basket now then I used in the beginning and just throw in full-sized items. I am also not ashamed to use a picture once in a while. They are not as engaging but as long as there are only one or two they provide an opportunity to teach some new vocabulary and fill out a collection for a difficult sound. For example, I don't think I had ever used the word "loaf" with the boys before today.
The "oa" bin contained the following: coat, loaf, boat, toad, goat, toast, oats, soap (to the left of the coat cut off a bit). I wanted to include "foam" but couldn't find a piece when I wanted it and all the pictures on line were more of "sea foam" which the boys would keep trying to call "bubbles."
The downside of using "real items" is that Kal-El keeps trying to put them away. He put the soap back in the bathroom at least three times and kept complaining that the bear that usually wears the "coat" was crying because he was cold.
Kal-El and Me Too are at different stages with this type of thing but it is still possible to do the activity partially together if I plan ahead. FIRST I took Kal-El aside and showed him the double sandpaper letter "oa" and told him we were going to look at some objects together that use that sound. THEN I invited Me Too to join us (he is not ready for the written symbol). After we were done looking through the bin Kal-El went away and pulled out the sand tray to write "oa" ...
...while Me Too and I played "I Spy" with the box of objects.
When Me Too was ready to move on to something else I gave Kal-El a presentation on how to use two different-colored alphabets to practice building words that have a double-letter sound in them. I started by setting out the "oa" combination several times on the mat and Kal-El chose objects to put next to them. We did the first one together and he took over after that. He was less than halfway through "toast" however when he lost interest in this and decided to start writing his own words (not containing "oa"). That is what the movable alphabet is supposed to be for in the first place so I left him alone. I needed to give a presentation on using the alphabets together and I did that. He now has the information for another day.
He wrote "superhero" words like "tic" (one of the X-men?) and "zap" (a superhero sound). I was really happy he chose to write a word with the letter "z." This bodes well for his future Scrabble skills.