Phonemic Realia Tubs Magnetic Letters

Moderation state
Grant Applicant
Katie Old
Grant Co-applicants
School Site
Grant Category
Grant Date

Teaching early reading skills requires listening to and matching letters to sounds. Then matching letter sounds to words.  When working with young students it is often hard to visualize a beginning word sound without the concrete objects. Teaching tubs filled with phonemic realia allows the students to identify and sort a variety of miniatures objects and build vocabulary skills. Each self-checking tub comes with 6 high-quality, educator-approved objects, even included hard-to-find items like an igloo, X-ray, quilt, and a working yo-yo. These items come in 26 presorted tubs with the corresponding beginning letter sound. Included is a storage rack built to hold the tubs for the teachers to have right beside them as they work with students one on one or in small groups. 


To further build on early reading skills the use of magnetic letters is a very valuable tool to improve literacy instruction. There is a wide variety of strategies on how to use magnetic letters; for example, educators use them to teach spelling principles, syllabication, preview vocabulary before reading, and to practice sight words (also called frequently used words). As teachers, we struggle with the sorting of various materials to use while teaching young students as the cleanup, sorting and missing items cause us to lose precious instructional minutes with our students. Julie Otis from Kings Beach shared how she purchased and organized the tools for her teachers through receipt of an Excellence in Ed grant, which we are hoping to replicate for Truckee Elementary teachers too. Each teacher K-2 teacher would receive 5 magnetic trays, with a letter template for the magnetic letters and an  IKEA storage tray for storing the trays so that it is easily accessible. Set up and clean up takes seconds, instead of minutes! 


This grant would fund one complete set up for 12 teachers at our school. It would include one set of Teaching tubs and storage rack, an IKEA storage tray, 5 magnetic trays to hold letters, and 5 sets of magnetic letters. Each teacher would have the opportunity to utilize these materials to improve literacy instruction. 


Benefits of Program

By funding this grant, teachers at Truckee Elementary would be able to improve Tier 1 and Tier 2 reading instruction, which greatly benefits students and increases their literacy abilities. Students would have hands-on realia to make more concrete connections with sounds and letters. The instructional moves a teacher makes using the realia is critical to developing vocabulary skills, especially for our Socioeconomic students who may not have seen many of these items.  Students would preview vocabulary before guided reading by building words with magnetic letters, which greatly aids students decoding and comprehension skills. Similarly, students would learn spelling patterns and principles by manipulating these magnetic letters, which aids their decoding and writing knowledge. Alternatively, students could work independently to build frequently used words, which greatly improves their fluency while reading. Because the set up of the materials is so accessible, teachers will be able to put them in the hands of students very frequently. 


Success of Program

We are implementing professional development throughout the school year for our TK-2 teachers and we will be using these tools to practice strategies for all of the students in the classroom. It will be possible to measure the success of the program in several ways - how often teachers and students utilize the materials for instruction and by analyzing the reading scores of each student. Teachers will provide feedback on how often they use their materials, as well as sharing any additional resources needed to use the realia and the magnetic letters successfully. We will look at trends of reading scores, numbers,  and teacher instructional methods. We are approaching reading instruction using a systematic method and we will be using formative and summative assessments with our students’. 



We will purchase the materials as soon as possible. Prior to the beginning of the school year, each teacher will set up the storage tray systems in order to get them into the student’s hands at the beginning of the school year. This way, teachers are able to instruct students on how to use them immediately. Teachers will use these materials starting the first weeks of school and continue throughout the year.

Can you share this grant with your grade level or subject team?

Yes, this grant is intended to be used by the TK-2 grade teachers at the school.


This grant is very sustainable. Because of the organization of materials in one place and the letters being magnetic, only a small replacement of materials is expected. In fact, many of the teachers will probably add Teaching tubs versus losing items. Teachers will be able to use these materials over and over again. No further funding is needed.
Amount Funded
Individual Budget Items(s)
$1908 - 12 Teaching Tubs- $159 x 12
$600 - 12 Storage Racks- $49 x 12
$240 - IKEA storage shelves - $20 x 1/teacher x 12
$480 - Trays - $8 x 5/teacher x 12
$600 - sets Magnetic Letters - $10 x 5/teacher x 12