Spinning Straw Spellers | Still Playing School

Spinning Straw Spellers

Make your own spinning straw spellers for word family work and fine motor practice!  My preschooler has been learning to read with Reading Eggs so we started with words that were familiar to her from the program.

To make your own spinning straw spellers, you will need:
- Milkshake straws
- Regular straws (bendy straws work best)
- Toothpicks
- Styrofoam packing tray (recycled and sanitized)
- A marker

I cut the larger milkshake straws into pieces and wrote beginning consonants (onsets) on some and the endings of the words (rimes) on the others.  I used different colors for these to help us differentiate between the two.

My preschooler loved making this literacy tool which was great fine motor work.  First she put the toothpicks in the packing tray.  I helped her measure the placement.

We bent the straw to fold down over the toothpicks.  Once we had a good sturdy fit she threaded the larger milkshake straw pieces onto the smaller straw to spell a word using her pincer grasp.


I asked E to read the word then she would spin the onset to change it!  She turned mat into cat and man into can. She was quickly gaining confidence in her reading as she recognized more words.

Once she got the hang of it she would change the rime (or ending of the word). Word family work is important since fluent readers recognize patterns in words to help them decode.

These easy to make and affordable manipulatives would be simple to create for a whole group of children. You could build sentences, explore math facts, and work on color patterns with the same simple straws!

Whether you have one emerging reader at home or a whole classroom, you'll want to give this activity a whirl (literally)!  Your kids won't be able to keep their hands off of it!

This post is a part of our Fine Motor Fridays series with other creative bloggers!
Please visit their posts by clicking the links below:

Tissue Paper Easter Egg Craft from School Time Snippets

Easter Egg Tracing & Scissor Skills Activities from Little Bins for Little Hands

Educational Easter Activities from Racheous - Lovable Learning


  1. Oh that is awesome and genius! Love it!

  2. Very creative idea!
    p.s. My son used Reading Eggs, too and really enjoyed it!