Participants of February's Clay Paint & Play event hosted by the Reading Therapy Center of Southern Arizona

Learning is always more fun when play is involved.

The Reading Therapy Center of Southern Arizona, a local organization that teaches reading to kids with disabilities, is hosting a monthly event where kids can practice phonics while playing with clay, paint and obstacle courses. The next one is Sunday, March 10 from 2-4 p.m.

Clay, Paint and Play is an event designed to support children's phonics using multi-sensory methods in a fun environment, says Retina Bauschatz, director and reading specialist.  

"For example, children are taught that the consonant digraph 'sh' makes the sh sound," Bauschatz says. "Students take turns thinking up words that have the sh sound, such as shovel, sunshine, clownfish, sharp and ship. Then they use the clay to make objects with the sh sound. Googly eyes, string and other crafts are provided to enhance the fun."

There's also a paint station where kids will paint "sh" onto a small canvas and then write or paint pictures of objects, concepts or verbs with the sh sound. 

The last 20 minutes of the event is for playing on an obstacle course led by a martial arts instructor, Mr. V., from Evolve Martial Arts, where students will practice following directions, sequencing and practicing the targeted sound from the paint and clay lesson. 

The event is designed for children ages 3-13 and costs $5 per family.

The Reading Therapy Center opened in August of 2018 to provide one-on-one reading instruction to children with disabilities — from reading disabilities like dyslexia to autism and non-verbal children. The company provides services in three areas: At its center or at a client's house, it partners with schools to provide Tier 3 intervention for students who are not responding to reading intervention offered by the school and require individualized reading instruction by a reading specialist and it offers community events such as Clay Paint & Play. 

The company is in the process of obtaining non-profit status. Once it does, it will apply for grants and scholarships to help serve lower-income families. 

If you go

What: Clay Paint & Play - Phonics!

When: 2 p.m. Sunday (every second Sunday)

Where: Evolve Martial Arts Studio, 5250 E. Pima Street

Cost: $5 per family

Info: Text or call 520-342-6530 to RSVP. Go here for more info. The event is open to all children ages 3-13.

Angela Pittenger | This Is Tucson