Unlocking phonic sounds with a padlock and key

My little one is 4 years old and currently learning his phonic sounds, he is doing really well and is beginning to master his individual sounds and blending them together to read simple cvc, cvcvv words. We are now moving on to learning digraphs and vowel digraphs, which are two letters that make one sound, eg. sh, ch, th, ph, ai, ow, ee.

Making a game out learning is fun and can really engage the child .

We have made  a simple little game up, using padlocks and keys.


Place a picture on the padlock and then add the beginning sound onto the key. So it could be a picture of an ant and then add the initial sound on the key, which would be a. As my child is learning jolly phonics in school I used the pictures from the jolly phonics sound card. This way they can not only recognise the sound but also the picture. Using name tags I wrote the sound on and attached it to the key. The pictures need to be fairly small to fit onto the padlocks.


This game is fun to play and easy to make. Children can play for hours unlocking the padlock, not only learning and recognising sounds but also working on their fine motor skills.


You can use the padlock idea for number bonds, equations and words.

Hope you have found this post helpful 🙂



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