Beginning Sounds with “Snowballs”

Winter!   What a beautiful season! Unfortunately, I don’t get to experience nature’s true winter here in Florida. Oh how I would love to run out in the snow and make a snow angel or roll a big snowman… but for now, I only get to experience it through books like, “Snowballs.”

Snowballs by Lois Ehlert is a true classic. It’s simple sentence structure, unique pictures, and clever humor (I mean fish for the snow cat’s eyebrows… that’s funny!) captures children’s attention and heart.

In Snowballs, each “snowman” created is part of a snow family. Teaching Kindergarten, I used this book to nonchalantly reinforce beginning sounds. I focused on the words and names that make up a family: dad, mom, boy, girl, baby, dog, and cat. (Yes, pets are family!!)

 While you read, reinforce the beginning sounds of these words:

  • /d/ /d/   dad
  • /m/ /m/  mom
  • /b/ /b/  boy  (discuss that a boy in the family can be a /b/  /b/  brother)
  • /g/ /g/  girl  (discuss that a girl in the family can be a  /s/  /s/   sister)
  • /b/ /b/  baby
  • /d/ /d/  dog
  • /c/ /c/   cat

Ask what TWO family names begin with the same sound?

  • Dad & Dog
  • Boy & Baby

Discuss where they feel movement in their mouth when they make these sounds. For example, the /d/ sound sure feels different than the /b/ sound! Go ahead… say these two sounds and feel for yourself!

The family words used in “Snowballs” are in your child’s daily vocabulary, therefore are great to use when discussing beginning sounds because they are familiar. Using words your little learner uses daily or are able to see and touch are the best words to use when you start teaching beginning sounds because they are able to make personal connections to the words.


Click HERE to visit my TeachersPayTeachers store to download and print my *mini snowfamily interactive reader* called, “My Snow Family.”   (pictured above) Practice reading the sentences with your little learner. Encourage them to put their finger on the paw prints as they read each word and say the sounds. Then they can illustrate each snow family member!  1= READ  2= ILLUSTRATE  3= CUT  4= READ 🙂  It is FREE to download for the next few days.

I hope you enjoy talking about your family with your little learner and illustrating what you all would look like as snow people! Please tag me on Instagram if you use my snowfamily interactive reader! I would love to see it in action.

Joanna and Mush Mush


I invite you to visit my website and read up on my newly published,
early sight word books called,
“Mush Mush Readers.”

“What’s An Apple?”


Once Upon A Story name

img_3195Once Upon A Story, invites you to explore apples with a new, ‘ripe off the shelf’ book called, What’s An Apple?, by Marilyn Singer.

Think of all the ways your little one has interacted with an apple.  Is it primarily related to eating?  All I remember about apples from when I was a little girl was making applesauce and apple pie at school (although, I may only remember the apple-eating activities because I love food – haha)! image1What’s An Apple? presses into imagination and enables your little one to explore all the different things you can do with apples – eat, toss, stack, peel, wash, roll, & much more!  By reading this story with your little ones, you give them opportunities to activate prior apple knowledge.

What’s An Apple? gives your little ones a chance to truly explore and interact with apples using all of their 5 senses…kinesthetically!

Before the story:    

  • Ask what he has done with apples before
  • Show her an apple and have her describe it using her 5 senses


During the story:

  • Discuss if he has ever used an apple in the same ways the boy and girl are using the apple
  • Discuss rhyming words (i.e. snuggle and juggle)


After the story:

  • Have your little one mimic one way the boy and girl used apples in the story
  • Have her think of another way she can use an apple that wasn’t described in the story.  I built a tower for my apple:
  • Or how do you like my APPLE SELFIE?! hehehe


What’s An Apple? will help your little one think outside the ‘crate’ when it comes to apples and build upon his prior knowledge by engaging in real-life experiences with apples!

*WANT MORE FUN?! Add some PHONICS to this apple story time! Each time your little one explores a new way with an apple, have them say the beginning letter sound for apple! ” /a/ /a/ /a/ APPLE!”

img_3236Also, discuss the formation of their face, mouth, and tongue when they say
A‘s letter sound /a/. Their cheeks stretch down, their mouth opens wide, their lips squeeze a little bit, and their tongue tightens up and stays inside their mouth ( sooo… did you you just make the /a/ sound and think about all of these motions? hehe)  You can even have them put their hands on their face to feel their cheeks move down as they say the /a/ sound or use a mirror for building more phonic understanding. I found lots of my kindergartener’s who were learning their sounds would confuse the vowel letter sounds A, E, and I… let’s help our little learners master their sounds confidently!

Click HERE to download an interactive “apple check list” your little one can use while she explores apples!

I would love to see what your little ones can do with an apple! Take a picture and tag #firefliesblog AND #mushmushreaders… can’t wait to see how imaginative they can be!



Joanna Merideth
Children’s Book Author




Once Upon A Story

 Once Upon A Story name

Welcome to, ‘Once Upon a Story’ on FirefliesBlog! My name is Joanna Merideth and I am excited to be apart of the ‘Fireflies’ writing team! IMG_4619

Each month, ‘Once Upon a Story,’ will provide you with tips on how you can create the most memories out of story time with your child. I will share ways that you can foster a strong reading foundation in your child by simply snuggling up and sharing a story together! Each month the story I share with you will go along with ‘Fireflies’ monthly theme and create avenues for print, visual, and verbal communication.

me reading young August

Looking back over my childhood, a love for books was woven into my heart at an early age. I have fond memories reading with my stuffed animals, sitting alone on my Grandma’s staircase reading ‘The Box Car Children,’ and sneaking away to the library at the elementary school where my mother worked. Even when I was attending college at Florida State University and felt homesick, I would go down the street to the Leon County Library and found peace flipping through their children’s books.

I graduated from FSU with a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and taught Pre-K and Kindergarten in Orlando, Florida. I recently had 10 early sight word readers called, Mush Mush Readers, published! I still cannot believe I get to say I am a children’s book author!   (

10 books laid out

There are so many amazing children’s books to read to your children and I am sure they have their favorites! I wanted to share 3 of my favorite books that I love reading to children. In no particular order because I just am obsessed with all 3 of them for different reasons:

Quick_as_a_Cricket   best nest grouchy ladybug

Thanks for taking the time to learn a little bit about me and my upcoming monthly blog series, ‘Once Upon a Story,’ here on Fireflies. Make sure to stop by in September because I will be sharing a video story!


Joanna Merideth



The Big 5: I’ll Huff & I’ll Puff…

The Reading Tree Series

 The Three Little Pigs

“The Big 5 Ideas” of Reading!

_3 Pigs cover

“I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house in!”

We all know these famous words from the captivating classic, The Three Little Pigs. This classic is a great example to demonstrate how you can build  up “The Big 5 Ideas,” of reading while you read it to your child. Using some of “The Big 5” strategies below, you will surely capture your child’s attention and plant some reading seeds along the way!blendchart

Phonemic Awareness-

  • Discuss that “the words huff and puff end in the same sounds and are words that rhyme” “What else can rhyme with huff and puff?”
  • Talk about beginning sounds! “Wolf begins with the letter W! W makes the sound /w/.” Stress the beginning sound of wolf… “/w/ /w/ wolf.“  (Remember to not make the sound for “wu” when saying “w”.)
  • Break up words and listen to how many syllables it has: house= 1,   brick= 1,  mother= 2, discuss how your chin goes down for each syllable


  • Model sounding out the word.  First say each individual sound: “p-i-g,” then sound it out by its onset and rhyme: “p-ig,” and last say the whole word “pig”
  • Point to the word, “little.” Tell your child there are some words you cannot sound out and you just need to memorize them. These words are called sight words. “little is a sight word… let’s spell it! L-I-T-T-L-E! Let’s see if we can find it on the next page! Oh, Look! There it is!”
  • Sound out a word using the “chunking” word reading strategy as you read: “br/ick= brick”   “str/aw= straw”blendchart


  • Make huffing and puffing noises when you say the words huff and puff
  • Create different voices for the 3 pigs and the big, bad wolf
  • If there is a sentence with an exclamation point!, depending on how the sentence reads, read that sentence louder or with excitement
  • When the pigs express that they are scared, when you read the words, make your voice sound like you are scared
  • At the end of the story, say THE END!

Vocabulary- Depending on the version of The Three Little Pigs you are reading, you may come across some different vocabulary words… below are some that I have in my 2 versions.

  • Tools, sturdy, tumble, gobble, inhaled, exhausted, confuse
  • Pick 2 or 3 vocabulary words from your version, explain what the word means, and if possible, give a synonym for the word and point it out in the illustrations
  • For reinforcement, use the vocabulary words that week during playtime with your child… “You were building a tall tower with your blocks and when it got to high the tower tumbled down! Let’s build it up again!… “Wow, your block tower is very tall! It must have taken you a long time to build it! You must be exhausted!”


  • Read The Three Little Pigs 2-4x in the same week!
  • Discuss the title and the front cover illustrations “What do you think this book is going to be about?” “Have you ever seen a pig using tools or living in a house?”    
  • After the 2nd pig’s house gets blown down, stop and summarize the events that have occurred so far and predict what might happen next
  • Ask 2-3 direct questions during and after the reading, such as “What material did the 1st pig use to build his house?”   “How did the wolf destroy 2 of the pig’s houses?”
  • Ask 1-2 open-ended questions during and after the reading, such as, “How do you think the 3rd pig felt when the wolf could not blow his house down?”     “How would this story be different if all the pigs used brick to build their house?”   “What tools and materials would you use to build a house?”

 Now, go! Read this oldie, but goodie to your child…
I bet they will love meeting three sweet pigs and a big, bad wolf today!

Previous posts in our The Reading Tree series:


Joanna Meredith