Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead book cover

Consonant blends are especially tricky letter combinations for beginning readers to master. When two consonants are next to one another, they often merge together into a seamless sound—like the ST in stick.

At first, little ones tend to miss one of the letters and try to write (or even pronounce) these words with just one of the sounds. This recipe is designed to introduce kids to a common consonant blend, ST, and help them get better at hearing and reading it.

ST is a frequent letter combination that shows up at the beginning of many everyday words, as well as in the middle or, often, the end of words—like post, fast, and list

Help your child read and make this simple recipe for strawberry sticks as a fun and memorable way to bring their attention to the ST blend. Healthy, simple, and educational? Sounds like a winning combination to me!

To begin, download The Read with Me Recipes below. Then, before you start cooking, point out the ST blend in stick and strawberry for your child. Next, explain that when S and T are next to one another, we blend the sounds together. I suggest handing them a pencil and encouraging them to circle all the ST blends they can find in the recipe. Note they may also spot some words that include TS. Encourage this, but be sure to point out that the letters are in a different order.

Our Read with Me Recipe series features printable recipes that are easy for kids to make and read. Simple words and short sentences in an easy font set your little one up for reading success. Just print the recipe and read it together as you cook, using the tips below to maximize the learning. The idea is to make it easy for you to mix reading and writing into everyday life with your kids. This kind of “everyday literacy” is key to raising thriving readers. 

Tips for teaching kids to read with this recipe:

  • Introduce your child to how recipes work. If you’re not sure they know them already, be sure to explain vocabulary like “ingredients” and other cooking terms. One of the biggest challenges for beginning readers is just knowing and understanding the vocabulary they’ll encounter in books.
  • Watch out for specific words in the recipe they may not be familiar with, and give a simple definition.
  • Keep an eye out for tricky-to-read words. Point out letter combinations that might be new or less familiar to your child.
  • For little ones who aren’t reading much yet, just pointing out what you’re reading and emphasizing a few key words or letters is enough, including the ST combination. If you make the recipe again, you can help them find the words you pointed out before.
  • If they can’t read the recipe on their own, give them chances for success by asking them about what they do know, gently underscoring key knowledge. E.g., ask, Can you find the letters ST? or How many words do you see with ST?
  • For kids who are reading already, encourage them to read the recipe themselves. If they have trouble, just calmly help them with any words they can’t quite get. E.g., if they have trouble with the word “strawberry,” try covering “berry” and helping them read just the first part of the word before you uncover the rest.
  • Use this as an opportunity to show them punctuation, as well as words and letters. Point to the commas, periods, or other punctuation marks, and explain what they mean.
  • Bring your patience. Give your child space to read a word (or identify a letter) before you jump in, but be prepared to help if they’re showing signs of frustration.

Read With Me Recipe: Strawberry Sticks

  • Fresh strawberries
  • Sugar
  • Other fruits, like banana slices or grapes (optional)
  • Wooden sticks

Step 1:

Wash the strawberries.

Step 2:

Cut off the stems.

Step 3:

Put the strawberries on the sticks.

Step 4:

If you like, you can add other fruits, like bananas or grapes.

Step 5:

Stop when the sticks are full.

Step 6:

Shake sugar on the strawberry sticks.

Step 7:

Put them in the fridge for 15 minutes.

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