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Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Few Pre-Schooler Games

Spring Break went by fast, mostly spent indoors thanks to persistent rains that characterize our region.

Despite nine months of rain each year, scrambling to get dry in the 2 weeks of extra-hot summer, it is a gorgeous haven. Which is why most of us stay and grow the second skin of rain coats and rubber boots, sporting the slick wet-hair look and smiling wide as we towel off the slides at the park and letting the kids finish the rest of the wiping job with their bottoms so they can play in the damp sogginess.

Anyway, since last Winter Break and through this Spring Break, we've been playing a few indoor children's games, some of which have become quite a hit at home, prompting me to record it here. Most of these games, or some version of it at least, has been around for ages and many teachers and parents have used it well and shared their ideas on the web.

The games are more for the pre-schooler, with slight modifications for the kindergartner in residence.

  1. Coin Bingo: Bingo is a fun game - I used to know it as "House-Housie" when I was little.

    coin bingo

    For Ana, this helped learn her coins and try some math with coin exchange. How many pennies make a nickel? How many nickels for a dime? Can you give me coins to exchange for this quarter? And so on.

    For Og, I made up a simple grid. First few rounds were to introduce and reinforce the names of the coins and recognizing them. We only used pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. No half-dollars and dollar coins.

    It is a bit confusing that nickel is bigger than dime in size but lower in value, and that dime and pennies are about the same size, but for the distinct color of the pennies. Still, it is what it is and might as well learn it with all its inconsistencies...

    The game is simple: Give each child a paper with the coin sizes and values clearly drawn/marked. Give them enough and more of each coins to fill the paper. Call out the coin and have them place the right one in the right spot. Till all spots are filled. Oggie loves to scream "Bingo! I won!" when he is done.

    As an optional exercise, Oggie likes to sort and stack up the coins in his pile, naming them as he goes.

  2. Letter Sound Match: I chose the set of consonants (and/or vowels) to focus on in each round and prepared the materials as in the picture: two sheets of paper with identical grid lower-case letters.

    We were focusing on letter sounds, for which I like to use the lower-case letters; but, can use this for the initial letter recognition by using all upper-case letters if preferred.

    letter sounds bingo

    The little squares of paper (blue bubble print paper from an earlier art exercise) have a piece of masking tape at the back to act as double-sided tape so that they can be easily removed from one spot and pasted on to another.

    The little blue squares all start out on one paper. Oggie gets two papers, identically prepared - one filled with the blue square, the other empty to begin with.

    As I call out the letter sounds, ("mmm", "sss" etc. no vowel sounds attached), he gets to find that letter on the blue square piece on the original sheet and move it to the correct spot on the empty sheet. We continue, one letter sound at a time till all letter squares have been moved from the first paper to the other.

    As an additional exercise, preparatory to reading, now that he has gotten comfortable with the letter sounds, I call out, "What does map begin with?" for the letter "m", rather than calling out the sound, "mmm". And so on.

  3. Shapes and Colors Game: One of the versions of this that became a hit at home (even with Ana who is much too old for it) is this coloring game.

    shapes coloring preschool game

    Prepare the shapes - either print or draw. Our printer conked out last Fall and we haven't found it in our budget to get a new one so far, so, I've been preparing most of the materials by hand.

    The fun for Og seems to be the challenge of not just recognizing the shape in the paper, but finding the color crayon I call out among the open pile, and then coloring within the outlines.

    There are plenty of crayons, multiples of each color, so Ana likes to play along even thought she calls it a "baby game". So, when I announce that we want a "Blue Circle" they grab the nearest blue crayon each at the table and get busy coloring in the circle.

    After a while, I started throwing in a banana or apple or clover and such to the mix of shapes as there is only so much of circle, oval, rectangle, square, triangle, diamond, heart, star that Og can handle before getting too bored.

    And, as we go along, we learn about various shades and color names like teal, magenta, lime green and so on in addition to light and dark, refining and defining the crayon colors at hand. So that I can call for a "lime green leaf" or "magenta oval" and notice him reaching for the nearest shade he has learnt.

    Not only does it help colors/shapes recognition, I think it has helped Og practise staying within the lines as seen in the picture. Although he doesn't cover every millimeter of the shape, he does manage to stay within the lines. And the crayons are broken to about an inch or so, which helps his grip and prepares his hand for writing later on.

  4. Scavenger Hunt: This is something Ana and Og compete and play with full gusto, with Ana getting mad and frustrated if Og manages to find the item first and stuff it in his bag.

    I hang two cloth tote bags in the kitchen, one for each player. Then send them on a scavenger hunt around the house to find the specified item and run back to put it in their bag first. Then, move on to the next item and so on till either they are tired/bored, or the bag is full.

    At first, I made it simple for Og. "Find something blue". "Find something that is round". "Find something that is soft". And so on. Then started compounding. "Find something that is green and makes a noise". (They do have a parrot toy that squawks and is green. Plus a green zhu zhu that squeaks cutely. And a few more that match the criteria I call out. So each can find one without fighting over any single item).

    "Find something you can wear in winter to stay warm". "Find something that bounces". As I make it more complex for Og, it gives him a chance to figure out and understand things in his world.

    This is one of my favorite games to conduct as I can keep them engaged while cooking or doing something else. I simply have to call out the next item and let them scramble to find it and bring it back. And it is even easier when I have a master list of items (pasted in the kitchen, handy) from which I call out a subset each time we play.

    Sometimes Ana fills in for me. Of course, she calls out, "Find yucky baby undies" and promptly Og takes off what he is wearing and stuffs it in his bag eliciting unmuffled giggles from Ana.

  5. Mystery Bag: This is a simple game I try to invite D to play along with the kids when he has a few moments to spare.

    mystery bag preschool game

    First, when kids are busy with something else, I go about the house and collect familiar items of various shapes and textures and put them in a small cloth bag that closes at the top so contents are not revealed easily. And have a blindfold handy for this game.

    When ready to play, we sit down in a circle and take turns. Each player wears the blindfold when it is their turn. Then opens the bag and picks out just one item from the bag. Feels it with their fingers. Then guesses what it is. Then, takes off the blindfold to see if they were correct. Then, passes it on to the next player.

    Things like pine cone, or a vegetable, or a hair curler, or a toy... each time the bag has different things, most of which are probably familiar to them, some of which might not be. Oggie doesn't keep the blindfold on, of course, and takes it off to "guess" his item.

    For some reason, wrong guess brings out peals of laughter. Of course, Ana gets mad if her guess was wrong... But, all in all a nice game to sit down and enjoy. Taking turns, being a gracious winner/loser, following the rules etc. are some of the nice things about this, much like any other game.

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At 2:48 PM, Blogger Dee said...

you need to seriously consider being a teacher :)

At 8:48 PM, Blogger Sheela said...

Dee:: I did, and I was :) A teacher, I mean. Armed with Master's in Science Education, I taught high school physics, then was a college instructor for a while here... that seems like cakewalk compared to teaching primary and elementary school kids! It takes tremendous patience and preparation to guide the tiny ones... someday maybe I'll get back to it...

At 10:47 AM, Blogger Dee said...

woman, you seem to have done everything! awe of you...keep up the great work!!


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