At some point in your life, you’ve probably played the game “I Spy.” It’s perfect for boring waits at the grocery store, or long car rides. But with a little tweaking, the game can also help kids practice a key first grade concept…syllables. Here’s how to play:
What You Do:
- Start the game with a little refresher. Tell your child that just as music can be divided into beats, words can be divided into syllables. Spend a few minutes talking about a few multi-syllable words, clapping at each syllable to show your child where the “breaks” are.
- Let 'er rip! With your child’s help, tear a piece of paper into a bunch of small strips. On each piece of paper, write a number from 1-4. When you’re finished, throw them all into the hat.
- Time to play! The first player picks a slip of paper from the hat. Just like in “I Spy,” he must come up with an object for the other player to guess. But in this version of the game, he must come up with an object with the number of syllables on the slip. For example, if he picked the number 2, he might choose “table” or “teaspoon” or “stapler.” With children this age, the number of syllables itself probably isn’t enough of a hint to keep the game from getting frustrating, so give clues that incorporate other hints as well, for example, “I spy something black with two syllables” or “I spy something you eat on that has two syllables.”
As your child gets the hang of it, don’t be afraid to throw a bit more challenge into the hat. Or, hat aside, just ask your child to think of a word with five syllables, or even six! He’ll look at your refrigerator in a whole new light.
Kathy Meindl has taught first grade, kindergarten, and fourth/fifth grade for 8 years in Tucson, AZ. She holds a Master's Degree in Educational Leadership.