Introduction: How to Make and Use a Cootie Catcher for Reading

Do you remember Cootie Catchers from when you were a kid?  I loved them!  Here is a cootie catcher perfect for the learning to read kiddo in your life!  My preschooler loved making her catcher "talk" and I love anything that helps her learn to read!

What are the steps?
Step 1: Make Fun Paper
Step 2: Fold the "Cootie Catcher"
Step 3: Add words to your catcher
Step 4: Other ideas to enrich this learning activity

Step 1: Make Some Fun Paper

To make our paper we created some shaving cream paint, which is basically a mix of tempera paint and shaving cream, and had a blast fingerpainting.  I love how shaving cream paint is hard to spill, makes the paint go farther, the colors become more vibrant, is super easy to clean up and the paint even smells great!  Our kids got to "decorate" their own cootie catchers paper.  I think this made my kiddos more vested in the finished product - and  I love the gorgeous paper!

Step 2: Fold the Paper Into a Cootie Catcher


Using a square piece of paper, bring two ends together and pinch the inside, repeat with the other side.  Draw an “x” on your pinches.  Bring the corners in towards the “X” and fold.

Flip the square over and dot the center.  Bring each corner into the center and fold.  Once you have all the corners in, fold it along the “white” lines or gaps to make the cootie catcher manageable.  Insert your fingers into the pockets!  You have a cootie catcher!!!

Step 3: Adding Words to Your Cootie Catcher

To write the words I flexed the Cootie Catcher and wrote the halves of the “a” first.  We then filled in the rest of the word.  As we are working on words with the short-a sound, the words we used were: bat, sad, ran, cap.  I wanted each word to have a different beginning and ending, and be able to match when moved so the letters would form a new word.  You can switch the words if you prefer. 

After we wrote the "outside" or "half-a" words, we opened up our cootie catcher and filled in the rest of the words:  bad, cat, sat, pad, rap, van, can, & tap.  Now there are 12 short-a word combinations for your children to use to practice their reading and motor skills at the same time!  Here are some other resources for teaching your preschooler to read.

Step 4: More Learning Ideas

Optional: You can open the flaps and add sentences.

  • Matt the fat rat sat on a mat.  As he sat he pat his bat.
  • Gran and Dan ran to the van to get a pan.
  • Rap, tap, tap, clap your lap.

Or you can write a group of similar words to practice together:

  • ap, cap, gap, lap, map, nap, rap, sap, tap, clap, etc.
  • at, bat, cat, hat, fat, mat, nat, pat, rat, sat, tat, chat, flat, etc.
  • ad, bad, dad, had, lad, mad, pad, sad, tad, glad, brad, etc.
  • an, can, Jan, fan, man, pan, nan, ran, van, gran, plan, etc.
Check out Quirky Momma for a list of other site words to teach your preschooler, if you want more ideas than what has been provided above.