Tired of playing “I Spy?” Try “What Letter Makes This Sound?” It is an easy while-you-wait game that you can play in the doctor’s office or restaurant. One person makes a letter sound and the other person guesses the letter. Easy.
Adult- “What letter makes this sound?” (make /b/ sound)
Then switch it up and let the kid ask the question. Or make it more difficult and ask “Which two letters together make the /ch/ sound?” Or how about which two letters can both make the /s/ sound?”
This game should really be called the Phoneme Game. (That’s a fancy way to say the individual speech sounds that make up a language. Also- I have been reading too many Fancy Nancy books.) Phonemes are the building blocks of words. Phonemic awareness will help kids “sound out” words in their reading and writing. This game will also give kids who need help with speech an opportunity practice saying phonemes.
A warning from my college reading professor: Be careful to only say one phoneme at a time. It’s more difficult than you think. For example, people have a tendency to say “wa” (making a /w/ and /a/ sounds) instead of the pure /w/ sound.
I was inspired by all the very cool paint chip color match games on Pinterest like this one from One Little Project at a Time. It is an easy and FREE way to teach colors and the clothes pin adds some fine motor practice, too. Only, I didn’t have clothes pins. And my paint chip samples had cut-out squares.
No problem. This makes it even easier to make. I just cut off the tops of the samples and then cut them apart. Done. Now to see if the pieces match, you just slide it behind the open square.
Without the clothes pins it is also easier to store. Just throw it all in a zip-lock bag and keep it in your purse for a waiting game at a restaurant. Or use at the table while you are making dinner.
One of our favorite car games is “I Spy.” The traditional game uses colors (at least the one I always played)…
- Player 1 chooses a color of an object in sight of all players and says “I spy with my little eye something (insert color of object here).”
- Other players take turns guessing objects that are the given color.
- Some people allow players to ask yes/no questions such as “Is it inside the car? Is it smaller than my hand? Is on the left side of the car?”
- A player wins when she guesses the object correctly. Then it is her turn to say “I spy….”
I Spy is a fun way to pass the time on a long car ride or in the waiting room of the doctor’s office. As a bonus, kids are also learning! What concepts could you work on using the game I Spy?
- colors- “I spy with my little eye something blue.”
- shapes– “I spy with my little eye something square.”
- numbers– “I spy with my little eye three of something.” This would work best if you are in a room where the kids could walk around and easily count objects.
- letters- “I spy with my little eye the letter B.” You could spy letters on billboards while you are driving, or letters on a page while you are reading.”
- words- “I spy with my little eye the word go.” Again, this could work on billboards on the road or in books in a waiting room.
- spelling- “I spy with my little eye something that begins with the letter C.” You could just give the first letter, spell out a whole word, or maybe even letter patterns inside the word like “ee.”
- phonics- “I spy with my little eye something that begins with the sound /s/.” Same playing with letters, but this time use letter sounds.
- rhymes- “I spy with my little eye something that rhymes with bee.”
- adjectives- “I spy with my little eye something smooth.” This is another game that would be best played in a room where kids could feel the different textures.
- measurement– “I spy with my little eye something about one inch tall.” Be sure to review unit measurements before you play. If you play this at your house, they could walk around and measure things with a ruler.
How many ways can you write a number? I did this activity with my second grade students, but it would work for a wide range of ages. Kindergartners can practice writing math facts, words, and pictures to show a number. Older elementary kids can show off their math skills by doing multiplication, adding decimals, or fractions. How do you play? Just pick a number and then take turns writing different ways to show the number. All you need is a pen and paper, so it is easy to do while you are waiting at a restaurant or office.
See if you can write the number using…
- Roman numerals
I call this game “I’m Thinking of a Word.” It’s a quick sight word game to play while you are waiting at a restaurant or office.
- Write some words on a piece of paper. (Of course you could also use homemade sight words or flashcards.)
- Give a clue about one of the words. For example: “My word ends with the letter D.”
- See if your child can guess (and read) the word you chose.
- Now it is her turn to think of a word and give you a clue!
Some ideas for clues:
- My word has the letter ‘b’ in it.
- My word rhymes with…
- I use my word when I talk about…
- My word is in the title of….
- My word has 3 letters.
- My word means….
- My word is the opposite of…
- My word ends with the /t/ sound.
- My word has 2 tall letters. (tall letters are h, t, k, b, d, l)
- My word has two vowels.
- My word has 3 syllables.
It is easy to make this game fit your child’s ability level. You can vary the amount of words you write, the level of difficulty of the words, and the clues you give. You might play that they have to identify all the words that fit a given clue. Or just give clues that only fit one word. Have fun!
Common Core Standards:
kindergarten- first grade: Demonstrate understanding of spoken words, syllables, and sounds (phonemes)
kindergarten- fifth grade: Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.
If you have a pen and some paper, you can entertain your kid while you wait at a restaurant or doctor’s office. Heck, you don’t even have to have paper. Try a napkin or even the back of your hand!
Just draw some lines or shapes…
Then hand over the pen to your kid. See if they can make your scribbles into a doodle. (These are a flower, two clowns, and a caterpillar courtesy of my four-year-old daughter.)
Preschoolers: They can do it with a little help!
- Demonstrate how to turn a line or shape into a drawing.
- Use simple geometric shapes (square, circle, triangle)
- Help them get started by brainstorming with them. “It’s a circle. What things have circle shapes? Maybe it could be a face. Or a wheel on a car? Can you think of other things with circles?
- If the activity is still too difficult, switch it up! Your kid can make a few marks on a paper and YOU turn it into a picture!
Elementary: Elementary aged kids should be able to make doodles without much prompting. They might even need an extra challenge.
- Draw several lines on one paper and see if they can connect them all into one drawing!
- Can they make all the drawings fit in one category (food, animal)?
- Draw several of the same shape or line (example- 5 squares all the same size). Challenge them to make each one into a different drawing.