Chick Pea loves to play hide and seek, so we made up a fun game to help her with her word groups. Right now we’re working with the “-at” words (cat, hat, mat, rat, etc.). The game is pretty easy–make up cards with the words on them and put them in various places around the house. Next, we go to “base” and look at a group of pictures that represent the various words. For each picture, we send her off “hunting” for the word that goes with the picture.
The words don’t really need to be hidden. In fact, it’s probably better if they can see the several different words as they are looking for a single word, just to become familiar with the differences. It’s also a memory exercise since they can spot words they aren’t looking find them quickly when the appropriate picture shows up.
If you have a group of kids, you can make it a contest–send them all out hunting and see who can find a word first. It’s a great game for outdoors as well!
Last weekend, a friend was telling me how much her three year old loves playing the Good Night Rhymes game. We talked about it as a bedtime game, but they play in the car. She started noticing that her little boy would always make a rhyme that started with the letter ‘L’. So if she says “boy” his response would be “loy”.
As I said in the original post on Good Night Rhymes, made up words are perfectly fine. The point of the game is to work on phonemic awareness. But she was wondering how she could get him to try different sounds. One approach she used was to start the game with a word that starts with an ‘L’ to stump him.
An easy variation on the game is to ask your child to rhyme the starting word using every letter of the alphabet. So if you started the game with “sit”, your child can use an alphabet chart to go down the letters to see what new words they can make. Although it doesn’t matter if the words don’t make sense, try to steer them towards words that “could be” words. For example, when you start with the letter ‘A’ for the word ‘sit’ you end up with “ait”. You can just say something like “That doesn’t sound right, let’s try the next letter. Bit, cit, dit, eit, fit, git, etc.”
This also changes the game from a phonemic awareness exercise to a phonics exercise because you are now asking your child to connect the letter of the alphabet with the sounds they make.
This engaging activity can be adapted for different ages easily and it can be a great way to get your kids to do some character analyzation (which really helps comprehension).
- Choose a character from a book or story you are currently reading or have read with your child. Tell your child that you will be playing a guessing game in which you will give them clues about a character and they will have to guess who it is.
- Once the correct character has been named, you can switch turns and have your child make you guess the next one. Having your child pick a character and thinking of clues for himself is where they will really get practice in analyzing character traits and elements of the story.
- For older kids, this type of game is great for making your child go beyond the superficial details and allowing them to think critically about the characters – especially when you challenge them to make it hard for you!
This is a really fun game that lets your kids practice matching objects to letters and sounds. You’ll need some picture cards of various objects (and/or magazine pictures) and a bit of creative imagination. You can play with two players, but the more the merrier!
- Choose a target letter to work on (for example: M) and select several pictures of objects that begin with M. Sample pictures can include: monkey, mother, mop, motorcycle, mirror, etc.
- Place the pictures in a basket or bag so that they can be chosen randomly without being seen by the other player(s).
- Have the first player pick a picture from the bag and act out the object for the other player(s) to guess. Note: I recommend that the parent be the first to choose a picture to act out so that you can model how to play.
- Once your child guesses the object, ask them to tell you what sound it starts with. Then ask them if they can tell and show you what letter it starts with. If your child is in the beginning stages of learning their sounds and letters, help them out by telling them this information.
- Continue the game and take turns with your child so that they get a chance to act out the pictures for you.
- You can play a variation of this to practice more than one letter/sound by mixing up pictures that begin with different letters in the bag. Each player has to guess the object and then match it to the correct letter.
Here’s a quick and simple game you can play during your bedtime routine with your child that will help them learn to make words rhyme.
- Think of a word and tell your child that the two of you will take turns saying a word that rhymes with the given word. These words can be real or make-believe as long as they rhyme!
- When you run out of words, ask your child to think of the next word – or save it for another night!
For example: You say “free”, your child can follow with “tree”, and you can come back with “glee”…”flea, tea, me, plea, we, tree, gee, bee, nee, kee, zee, etc.” (the last three words were examples of make-believe words)
- Kids have a lot of fun with this one because they don’t have to worry about word meaning, they only have to match the ending sound. You can tell them that Dr. Seuss was an expert on making up words that rhyme. Read one of his books that night to help you guys get started with the game.
- Although this is a good bedtime activity, it can be done anytime and anywhere!
This is a great way to help your child review their letter sounds. You’ll need an alphabet chart (or letter cards) and a puppet – and make sure he’s wearing his “dunce cap”!
- Tell your child that the puppet is going to help him/her review their sounds.
- Have the puppet point to a letter and have him say something like “The letter ‘B’ makes the /r/ sound.” Wait to see how your child reacts. Hopefully he/she will laugh and/or give the puppet a weird look. Ask your child to correct the puppet.
- If your child needs some help…you can say something like “Hmm, I don’t think that’s right. Does the ‘B’ make the /r/ sound? No, the ‘B’ makes the /b/ sound like /b/ for ball. Can you say /b/ for ‘b’?
- You can continue with the whole alphabet – sometimes the puppet can be right and sometimes he can be wrong. Change it up by picking random letters rather than going from A-Z. This will keep them on their toes!
- Your kids will have so much fun correcting the silly puppet they’ll barely even notice that they’re reviewing their letters!
This simple activity will do wonders for your child’s oral vocabulary (which is important to build so that their reading vocabularies can grow) while working on their comprehension at the same time! You can do this with kids of all ages that can listen to and discuss a book or story.
- Prior to reading a book to your child, try to notice words that represent an easy concept for your child that you can replace with a harder, more mature word (this is really easy to do with adjectives). Choose about 3-5 words that you will focus on along with their “big word” synonym.
- Read the book as it is with/to your child. Either during or after the reading (while you’re discussing parts of the book with your child), talk about and show them how you can say certain things in a different way. For example: If a character in a book was really hungry, you can say they were famished during your discussion of the story. Talk about how the new word tells the same story, but makes it a bit more interesting!
- Here are some other examples of common words and their “big word” synonyms:
These synonyms are examples of Tier Two Words – read more about the importance of these words.
- You’ll find that the more you do this while you read (or just in conversations with your child) the more they’ll start to use these new words on their own!
This is a great phonics activity for a hike as an alternative to Digital ABCs, or ABC Nature Hike. All you need for this activity are pencils or crayons, a clipboard, and the great outdoors.
- Before you leave for your hike, create a grid of different sounds. You an choose certain target sounds or do the whole alphabet A-Z.
- While you’re on the hike, have your child search for items that begin with each sound in the grid and write their names in the grid. Younger kids who can’t write yet will have fun drawing a picture of each item.
For example, two of the sounds on your sound grid may be the long and short /a/ sounds. An acorn satisfies the long /a/, but they’ll need to find another item for the short /a/, maybe an ant or an apple.
- This is a great activity you can repeat over and over with different sounds – so get out there and have fun!
This simple activity is great for helping your child develop discriminating skills as well as working on rhyming to improve phonemic awareness. You’ll need some picture cards or pictures cut out from a magazine.
- Put together some sets of picture cards (3 in each set) of things that rhyme and one that doesn’t belong. For example, you can have pictures of a bone, a phone, and a cat – or a tree, a ring, and a bee.
- Lay the pictures out for your child (1 set at a time) and tell them that they will have to tell you what the things in the pictures are and to find the one that doesn’t belong. Bonus points for them if they can tell you why the picture doesn’t belong!
- After they figure it out (or if they need help), tell them that you’re working on how the words sound and that the goal is to pick the two that rhyme. You can choose to tell them this before the activity if you want to or see if they can figure it out on their own. Do whichever you think would be most fun for your child!
- Repeat with the other sets of pictures.
This is a great way to get your kids to reinforce their letter recognition while playing outside in the wonderful summer weather! You’ll need some letters (either paper, foam, magnetic, or other plastic letters) and a safe outdoor space (backyard, familiar trail, park, etc.)
- Take some letters and hide them around different areas of the outdoor space where your child can safely hunt for them. You can choose what letters to hide depending on what you want to work on with your child. For example, if you’re working on just one letter or reviewing a few, then just hide several of those letters. Or you can do the whole alphabet and have your child hunt for the letters in sequence – it’s up to you!
- Give your child a bag or basket to fill up with the letters they find. Be sure to tell them how many letters there are for them to find, so they know when to stop hunting! Go through their bag with them when they finish so they can tell you all about the letters they found.
- This can be easily integrated with any unit study or special interests your child may have by being a little creative. Have fun and enjoy the weather!
This is another fun game you can play in a group or as a family in the car. Even mom and dad will be challenged with this phonemic awareness excercise.
The rules of the game are pretty simple–each person, in turn, says a word that begins with the same sound the previous person’s word ended with. Note that it is not the last letter of the previous word that matters, but the sound that is important. For instance, if mom starts off with the word “steak”, the next player must say a word that begins the /k/ sound–‘cake’, ‘climb’, and ‘kindergarten’ are all acceptable.
A variation of this game is to use words from a common category, for example “names for boys” or “things you eat”. This is also a great activity for older kids where the focus would be on building vocabulary rather then phonemic awareness.
Here’s an entertaining way to get your kids thinking about and using synonyms. Synonyms are a great way to build your child’s vocabulary because it’s easy for them to learn new words that match a concept they’re already familiar with. Here’s how to play this easy game:
- Start off by telling your child that you’re going to say a word and they have to think of another word that means the same thing. You can start off with easy words till they get the hang of it, and then go on to use some harder words.
- Sample conversations:
Parent: “I say mad, you say…”
Parent: “I say huge, you say…”
- You can swap roles and have your child start off by choosing the first word for you to respond to with a match. This will give you the chance to model the use of bigger words that are more challenging. For example: If your child says sad, you say melancholy. If your child says hungry, you say famished.
- As shown by the examples shared here, you can easily make this game as challenging or as easy as you like depending on your child’s level. Have fun helping your child expand his/her vocabulary!
This activity helps your child work on his/her phonemic awareness (oral blending skill) and their listening comprehension all at once! You can use a sample of any story you like to play this game. The example shared below uses an excerpt from Frog and Toad.
- Have your story and questions ready.
- Put on your “dunce cap”.
- Tell your child that you are going to tell him/her a story and that you might need their help blending some words because you can’t figure them out.
- Read a line from the story and sound out the last word very slowly. Then ask the question to your child and wait for them to help you by figuring out the word before you continue reading.
The old brown Frog sat in the /s/ /u/ /n/. Where did the Frog sit? (in the sun)
His pal Toad hid under a /r/ /o/ /k/. Where did Toad hide? (under a rock)
Toad told Frog that the sun would turn him into /m/ /u/ /sh/. What would Frog turn into? (into mush)
Frog told Toad that he looked like the gopher;s next /m/ /ea/ /l/. What did Toad look like? (a gopher’s next meal)
Suddenly it began to /r/ /ai/ /n/. What did it begin to do? (rain)
Frog and Toad played together in the /m/ /u/ /d/. Where did they play? (in the mud)
Kids have a lot of fun figuring the words out to complete the story. You can do this with songs, poems, and other stories anytime you want!
This is a phonemic awareness activity that focuses on having your child identify and isolate the initial sounds of words. Playing this word game with a puppet can make it a whole lot of fun!
- Have a list of random words that begin with different sounds ready for this game.
- Tell your child that you’ll be saying some words and that the puppet wants them to repeat only the first sound of each word. Show your child some examples with the puppet’s help before you have them give you the sounds.
Parent says: snail … Puppet says: /s/
Parent says: mushroom … Puppet says: /m/
Parent says: shade … Puppet says: /sh/
- Phoneme isolation is one of the more difficult skills of phonemic awareness, so your child may need some practice with this one. Remember that the words you chose don’t have to be small words because your child is not expected to read them – they just have to be able to say them and repeat the first sound. This is a good chance to expose your child to some new words!
This is a phonemic awareness activity that focuses on kids’ ability to segment (separate) and substitute initial sounds. Play it as a riddle game and they’ll have plenty of fun with it!
- Ask your child these riddle type questions to see if they can replace the first sound in the given word with a new sound. Here are some examples to get you started:
- What word starts with the sound /b/ and rhymes with cat? You can keep going by asking for the new words that rhyme with cat but start with the sounds /h/, /r/,/s/,/f/.
- What word starts with the sound /t/ and rhymes with the word new? More sounds: /y/,/z/,/g/,/sh/.
- What word starts with the sound /s/ and rhymes with the word night? More sounds: /r/,/l/,/m/,/b/.
Phoneme substitution is one of the hardest of the phonemic awareness skills, so don’t be surprised if this is tough for your child to do. Help them out by giving them the new word when they can’t think of it. If they get frustrated, then move on to something else and try this game another time. Remember that you want to keep these games fun and engaging, so just keep it light!