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.
As my youngest just transitioned from a crib to a big girl bed and now we are working on potty training, there is a lot of “big girl” talk going on in our house. She likes to play the game, “What can a big girl do that a baby can’t do?” We read and watched videos talking about how big girls can walk, talk, eat pizza, climb on the playground and babies can’t do any of those things. It helps her see that she is changing and growing…and it is a good thing! It’s also the same conversation we had with Big Sis when Little Sis was born. Comparing themselves to babies makes kids feel proud about their abilities and shows them that they have a special place in the family (even if that cute baby is getting a lot of attention!)
While I was talking about “baby vs. big girl” with Little Sis, my older daughter thought it would be fun to come up with ways they were both alike, too. Then the girls wanted to compare kids to adults. What can grown-ups do that kids can’t do? They gave answers like “Grown-ups can drive. They can cook.” You can also flip the question around so one thing isn’t always seen as “better” than the other. What can kids do? Kids can fit into smaller places and go on certain rides at the amusement park that adults aren’t allowed on.
Then we branched out to animals. What can an owl do that you can’t do? What about an elephant? It was really funny to hear their answers and thinking. The older the kids, the more detailed things you can ask them about. If they are dinosaur experts, ask them to compare a stegosaurus and a pteranodon. Or ask, “What can a microwave do that a stove can’t do?”
Comparing things and ideas is a skill kids will use many times in reading comprehension and critical thinking. Think about how many tests say “compare and contrast.” Why not start practicing that skill early as silly game? It’s a perfect thinking game you can play in the car, sitting in a cart at the store, or waiting at a restaurant. Try it out!
As with any educational game, the focus should be on fun. Ask a questions, give them some hints or offer some ideas, then let them ask you a question. If they are getting stressed out or bored of it, move on to something else.