This first game is a twist on “I spy!” Instead of the traditional approach of “I spy with my little eye something beginning with the letter I” (and you are looking at an ice cream or a picture of an igloo), simply switch to focusing on the sounds. Play the game “I hear with my little hear, something with the sound /i/ (like the first sound in igloo)” or the sound /i-e/ (like in ice cream)”.
At this stage it is not important that the players can identify which written letter or letters would be used to correctly spell the word. The focus is on the sounds only.
Taking this same game a little further, you can then have the child “spell” using sounds only. My little boy just turned 5 on March 30th and he thinks you spell “cat” with the sounds /c/, /a/, and /t/, and further that these sounds are represented by the letters ‘c’, ‘a’ and ‘t’ respectively. This way he can “spell by the sounds” really big and complicated words such as “birthday” by saying the sounds /b/, /er/, /th/, /d/, /a-e/ with breaks in between. He will later be able to learn which letter or letters are used to correctly represent those sounds in these words.
The Can Do Cubes phonics program, available on my web site, is a great tool to introduce the sounds and their written symbols. Made of solid wood with the written correspondences engraved onto each side of the cubes, they offer a tactile and visual component to the learning process. The cubes come in two boxes. The first box is Stage One, consisting of at least one written representation of each of the sounds in the English language. Stage Two introduces more complex written variations of the sounds.
The Can Do Cubes phonics program is great for beginners as well as those who need to back track to grasp this sound and code component of spelling and reading. Since spelling and reading are the flip side of the same coin, these skills are taught back to back. Fluency of segmenting, blending, and decoding and encoding are necessary for fluid reading and ease of comprehension. This program helps promote those skills.
This product is non-consumable and, therefore, very cost efficient when used in a family of more than one student. The cubes are very durable (believe me my son has tried his best to destroy them and has been unsuccessful after over a year’s use) and hold their resale value too.
The Can Do Cubes phonics program is very good for children who need to be on the move to learn best. My son likes to stack the cubes as he earns them (by correct recognition of the sound or the code) which helps with fine motor skills. When the stack is high enough he earns the right to either kick them over (only when given permission, but this also helps with other gross motor skills such as standing on one foot while the other has to aim at a target) or roll a ball at them like in bowling (again a good motor skill). My son sometimes likes slam dunking them into a small makeshift basketball hoop or bucket.
You and your child get to make up the rules. The possibilities are endless and you will be pleasantly surprised how creative your child can be. Remember that rewards for getting the sounds and code correct will cause a burst of dopamine, helping to lock in the learning, so let them experiment with different ways of working with the cubes.
My next entries will be on some games that help with sound recognition using nonsense words. My nine-year old daughter has called the first one “Copy Me!” and the second one “Fill in the Blanks”.
For more information on auditory analysis skills, testing and training visit The Brain Trainers.
By the way.....I hear with my little ear something beginning with /b/ (hint I’m tired)! Until next time.