Most little kids hate to sit still, but that doesn't have to be a bad thing. Take advantage of your kindergartener's energy with this cute game that lets him practice building words, all while acting like a Mexican jumping bean!
What You Do
- Start by writing the following consonants on the index cards or construction paper: B,C,F,H,M,P,R,S,D. Review the sounds these letters make with your child and ask him to say them aloud, so you're sure he's familiar with the sounds each of the letters makes.
- Next, take out your five large pieces of thick paper. On each sheet, write one of the following ending blends: -at, -ig, -og, -an, -it. Tape each sheet to the floor (leaving a bit of room between each).
- Start by looking at the ending sounds on the floor and saying them together.
- It's time to jump! Tell your child that he's a Mexican jumping bean, and that his job is to find a partner. Then explain the rules of the game: each time you give your child an index card with a letter on it, he'll try to jump onto as many word matches for it as he can find. (You can use a timer if you'd like, to make things more challenging.) For example, if he had the letter “m”, he could jump on "–at" to make “mat”, or he could jump on "–an" to make “man." But if he jumped on "–it", he would lose his turn, because "mit" is not a word (it's mitt!). The goal is to make as many words as possible, before the timer rings, or the player makes a mistake.
This game is a great way to bring home the idea that words are made up of several sounds put together. And it works just as well outdoors, with chalk on a driveway, rather than construction paper taped to an indoor floor.
It may be tough for your child at first, but it will get easier. And all that moving keeps things silly, which makes for low pressure and high energy fun. So if you want to help your child with reading, gather some paper, break out the markers, and get a jump on it!
Alicia Danyali, BS Elementary Education, taught primary-level students for four years at the International School of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The last four years of her teaching career, she taught at the Washington International School in Washington, D.C. She recently completed writing a series of children's picture books and is a mother of one young son.