Friday, February 8, 2013

Semi-Homemade Kids Educational Games: Number, Sight Word and Letter Recognition


When we moved into our current home, we discovered that the previous owner had left behind a few old board games and playing cards. The kids totally went to town with them and tossed cards and game pieces left and right. And in the course of cleaning, either I or my partner ended up tossing a lot of the stuff we found, thinking there was no point to keeping them. Until now. =) 

With my son in kindergarten and struggling to learn his letters and numbers, I decided to come up with simple games that either he or his younger sister could play. I'm a strong believer in having fun while learning and my kids love playing games with us because it makes them feel so grown up. With these games I made up, they can learn letter and number recognition with repeated play. My son has drastically improved in the letter and sight word categories, but is still struggling with the numbers 20 and up so he and I have been focusing on the number game I created and which he loves (you'll see why below.)













These are star word pointers: sight words that he needs to recognize, read aloud, and write with minimal assistance. I keep them in a "Superman" bucket (leftover from his Superhero birthday party) and they seem to pair up really well, don't you think?











As we read together, he'll use the star pointer to call that specific word out when he sees it. So far, he's done really well here and having something in his hand and a task to do while reading with me keeps him from getting distracted (which he easily does on a regular basis.)










Here is why my son loves our counting game: something as simple as a knitting counter that clicks as you press the top and make the numbers go from 0 to 99. I discovered this at the bottom of my knitting basket while I was cleaning out my closet.








I bought some colorful plastic numbers from the dollar store for this game. As the counter is clicked, he can grab numbers to match what the clicker is showing. We say the number out loud as we click and repeat when he puts together the matching pair with the plastic numbers. With my son, I realized that sitting at a desk and writing numbers row after row just wasn't getting him to learn so I needed something to stimulate his visual, auditory and tactile senses. Since we just started this game yesterday, I have yet to see if he's really learning but I'm just glad he enjoys playing it.






This next game that I put together came about because I found these letter cards from the game "Last Word" and a letter cube/ die thingy. Yep- these were just some of the cards and game pieces that the kids had scattered around the house and luckily, I found them and put them to better use. This simple game involves rolling the die and finding a matching letter in the 5 cards that each player is given. Easy, right? When a match is found, the card can be set down in the middle and whoever gets rid of all their cards first, wins. As they grow smarter, I'll make this game and the others a little more challenging.













I bought these letter dominoes from the Dollar Spot at Target awhile back. I am still brainstorming different games to play with them rather than the usual letter matching. Hmmm...




 This is how I organize all those itty bitty games. After plastic bagging them, I stuff them into these stackable trays (also from the dollar store) and label them so I remember where their home is. I have a lot of "stuff" so labeling helps keep it all in order, for the most part.


 Here's the little bookshelf I keep it all on. Definitely need another one to hold the ever-growing pile of games, books, and craft supplies but I'm pretty happy that it's all contained for now. The kids can easily access anything that interests them and that they want to work on without needing me to constantly get it for them. I always keep old magazines around because I use them for letter or number spotting. The kids love it. They think they're reading mommy's grown-up magazines that I rarely ever let them touch until I'm done perusing them.


Hopefully, you got some good ideas for teaching your young'uns letter and number recognition. Practicing letter and number writing is well and good but it's hard to do that when you don't know what you're supposed to be writing. Recognizing and remembering the lines and curves of a letter or number should preclude writing, I think. But I'm no educational professional- I'm just creating stuff that's geared towards how my kids learn best. To each their own, right? =) Happy Friday, everyone! I'm taking the weekend off!

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