My four-year-old, Farrah, is smart but often uninspired. I thought of a fun, simple way to get her to master her reading lessons (we’re still on 3-letter words and basic 4-letter words). She loved this when we did it for the first time last night, and she asked “Mommy, can we play this over and over and over again?” Yes, of course we can.
1. Write words on index cards, one word per card. Some of the words were words she is very sure about (cat, mom, pop, up, etc.) and others are words that take her a bit longer to decipher (moon, like, sip, rig, etc.). We played with about 20 words total, but in the future I plan to make a larger stack of words that we can rotate out.
2. Mom, Dad, or older sibling participates. This game is a lot more interesting to kids when someone else is doing it with them. In our case, Olivia participated. Of course all the words were a piece of cake for her, but she still enjoyed it.
3. Place all the cards writing-side-up on the floor, on one end of the room. They should all be facing the same direction and each flat on the floor (don’t stack).
4. Players start by standing together at the opposite side of the room and taking turns running down to grab a card. They pick up the card from the floor then run back, handing the card to mommy while they announce the word on the card. (They hand it to me so I can make sure they’ve stated the word correctly. Since Farrah’s the only one who needs this practice, I also make sure that when Olivia comes back with her word I show Farrah the card too, so she can be aware of how the word looks as Olivia is saying it). Once the first person comes back and says her card, the other person runs to get a card, and the game proceeds in the same manner until all cards have been taken.
Since the girls are going one at a time, there are no winners because it’s not a race. But the point is to go as fast as possible and to have deciphered the word on the card by the time they run back to the other side of the room. (We used half the length of our playroom, so it was a very short run for them). Playing the game this way helps with confidence building. I noticed that Farrah chose some of her “sure” words first, which made her feel good about knowing the words, and of course as the game progressed she was forced to choose from the harder words that were left. She did a SUPERB job! Turns out she knew ALL the words but she just wasn’t very interested in reading them before now!
Another alternative to this game would be to let one sibling go down to pick the card, then bring it back and hand it to the other sibling and that sibling has to say what the word is (intead of the person who ran and got the card). That way, they don’t get a chance to filter through for the easy ones… they have to say whatever word is handed to them.
They also enjoyed some variations in getting down to the side of the room with the card. I would sometimes command “Okay, skip this time… or hop down there on one leg…”
This game is definitely a keeper! We’ll play it several times a week, for sure!