Phonics Tubs

This is Jessica here, from Hanging Out in First!  I haven't been with you in a while but I am back with a big announcement.  I am moving to Kindergarten this year.

As a result, I am spending my summer reworking a lot of my lessons, centers, etc.  I have not taught Kindergarten before, so this will be a new experience for me!

One of my biggest summer projects is Phonics Tubs.  My phonics tubs are starting with letter sounds, but I may eventually branch out to word families, digraphs, short/long vowel sounds, etc.

I have seen many versions of these that you can purchase on TPT or on sites like Lakeshore but they have their downfalls.  Lakeshore is crazy expensive and TPT (as much as I love them) are going to be flat pictures.  I want something tactile!  So after much research, I settled on making my own.

I started at the Dollar Tree.  I picked up these little containers - 4 for a dollar.  Heck yeah!  That is in my price range.  While I was there, I perused the toy aisle for a bit.  I found lots of options for items to put in my bins, but decided to only pick up a few things because I still wasn't entirely sure what I wanted it to look like.  I needed to do a little more planning first.

I went home and made a list of possible items that I could put into each tub.  I was making 26 tubs for each of the 26 letters.  Some letters were pretty easy to brainstorm; others, not so much.

Then I headed into Michaels....just to see what they had.  I knew they had all of those little animal figures (animals are an obvious choice to start with) but I wasn't sure of the price.  What I did find, was even more amazing than I imagined!  BUTTONS!  Michaels has all of these little packs of buttons that are "themed."  I love that I didn't have to buy a bag of 12 soccer ball buttons to get one soccer ball.  I was able to pick up a bag of sports themed buttons and get a soccer ball, a football, a baseball, a bat, etc, all for $2.  I also got some animal buttons, food buttons, girly buttons, etc.

I totally forgot to take a picture before ripping into all of these lovelies in my excitement, but here is a picture of a couple of them out of the package.  Aren't they cute??

While I was there, I also found these adorbs letter stickers for only $2!  Beats having to make my own.  They were perfect for the front of my tubs. Great shopping!

Next, I cleaned out my kids' toy box.  Man they have so much junk many potential phonics tub toys and treasure box toys.  I found cars, trucks, flags, balls, lizards, dinosaurs, legos, blocks, and more!  (I have three boys. Can you tell?)

Last stop, Party City.  They have an entire aisle of party favors that are perfect for this!  You can get them individually for 30 cents a piece (so again, you can buy the one that you need without having to spend a dollar on 5).   Look at all of these little trinkets I picked up.  Only $20!

My tubs are nearly complete now.  I just have to find some items for those hard letters (x, y, z, q).  For those, I may have to resort to some printed pictures, but that's okay.
 (You can see I have even started gathering a few items for digraph tubs!)

So how will I use these fancy schmancy tubs you ask?  I have so many ideas for them!  The most obvious is at a center, the students can dump two tubs and then sort them by sound.  But I am also thinking that I can use them for quick phonemic awareness lessons, like I pull one from a tub and if it makes the sound we are learning, the students give me a thumbs up/thumbs down.  I can use them during guided reading groups for letter sounds.  I can use them during guided writing or dictation by having students pull an item and write the letter that makes that sound.  It could even be in writing center, where students have to pull an item and write about it.  I think these are going to be a great addition to our classroom learning!


  1. I used to love having Phonics Tubs when I taught little kids. I also had my trusty Sound Suitcase. Super cute!
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

  2. This is GENIUS idea and i may have to steal it for my last week of K summer school as well as for teaching reading this fall! I can see myself doing a sound sort with beginning sounds! Thanks for sharing!