Let’s go digging

by Fellowship Agency December 12, 2019

Phonics is a key area of learning in Key Stage 1 and therefore should be made to be an enjoyable learning experience for the children. These phonics activities are tactile and sensory to give the children a new way of learning.

Learning outcomes

You will be able to:

  • decode and read words with the ‘ai’ phoneme 

You will need (per class)

  • 1 x shallow Gratnells Tray (F1) with a lid
  • Mud
  • 2 x Spades
  • Printed and laminated words with the ‘ai’ phoneme.


  • Choose the selection of ‘ai’ words.
  • Print, laminate and cut out the words.
  • Fill the tray with mud and place the words inside.

What to do:

  • Ensure that all the words are covered by the mud.
  • Explain to the children that they need to find the words.
  • When they find one, they need to read the word correctly.
  • After the child has read the word, they put it to one side.
  • The child with the most correctly read words at the end is the winner.

Other things to try…

  • How many words can the children remember with the ‘ai’ sound?
  • Add in some ‘alien’ words with the ‘ai’ sound, for the children to sort.
  • Share photographs of your phonics fun on social media using #WhatsInMyTray.

Health & Safety

As with all Gratnells Learning Rooms What’s In My Tray activities, you should carry out your own risk assessment prior to undertaking any of the activities or demonstrations.