My kids seem to go for anything I call a “game”—so whether it’s the “get your coat and shoes on” game, the “eat your breakfast” game or the “finish the puzzle” game, usually my kids will jump at the opportunity to play pretty much anything.
So when I suggested we play the “I Love Letters, I Love Words” game, my kids were . . . game.
As Maddy and Owen finished their homework, Cora and I played a game using one of our favorite puzzles because, as she approaches Kindergarten, I really want to make sure she has a firm understanding of the letters of the alphabet.
Playing with the letters of the alphabet is easy—and parents can really get children excited about letters in simple but meaningful ways. Our kids are going to be hanging out with these letters for the rest of their lives; they might as well get to know them, right?
And if they love the letters of the alphabet? Awesome! It just might make learning to read that much more exciting—and easy—for everyone!
So instead of just dumping out the puzzle pieces and putting them back into the correct spots, we did things just a teeny bit differently. We played “I Love Letters, I Love Words”—a quickie game we created on the fly—and before we knew it, Maddy and Owen, who already know their letters, were trying to speed through their homework so they could join their sister and me in our game.
Here’s how we played:
- We dumped all of the pieces into a big pile.
- We took turns pulling a letter from the pile of pieces.
- When we picked up a letter, we’d say something like: “I have a letter C. I looooooove the letter C because C makes two sounds–a hard C and a soft C. I know that cat begins with C and coat begins with C and car begins with C.”
- And then when we found the spot where it belonged, we’d say, “And cow and clover begin with C,” all of us calling out the names of the pictures by the C on the puzzle board.
- We went through each letter of the alphabet until the puzzle was complete, and when we finished, we sang a loud and beautiful ABC song as we pointed to each letter on the board.
It was quick, but it was fun. What I love about this game is that Cora heard me say that I loved letters, so that she, too, wanted to say that she loved letters. And the reasons she loved letters may not have been what I thought; her reasons, though, were creative and smart.
Instead of loving letters for sounds, sometimes she loved letters for the fact that they began one of her friends’ names, like I for Isabella or B for Brooklyn. Sometimes she loved letters because they were easy to write, like T or L. Other times she loved letters for their magic–like the O that never turns upside down or the M and W that turned into each other when they were flipped.
And Maddy and Owen loved calling out words that began with each letter to prove that they were the experts—but I didn’t mind; I was just happy that they wanted to jump in and that their participation in our little Love Letter game also demonstrated to Cora that these letters were indeed pretty cool.
Because really? They are very cool.
Do you want to get your hands on this particular game so you can play “I Love Letters, I Love Words” (or your own adaption)? You can find it here: Jumbo ABC Chunky Puzzle
Amy is the creator of teachmama.com, where her focus is to share the tools and resources parents need to be the best teachers for their children. She’s not a full-fledged homeschooling mom; rather, she capitalizes on learning opportunities in the every day and uses games and play to get her own children prepared for school and excited about the world around them. Amy is paving the way for a more modern “lifestyle of learning,” empowering all parents to take a stronger role in supporting their children’s education. In February 2010, Amy created “we teach” as a forum for parents and teachers to connect, share ideas, and grow into better educators—no matter the classroom. “we teach” has grown quickly into one of the most successful and highly-trafficked educational forums on the web, recently partnering with the incredible educational toy company, Melissa & Doug.