This next game that works auditory analysis skills was invented by my nine-year-old daughter after taking a series of cognitive and academic achievement tests. She calls this game “Copy Me!”.
This game can be played anytime, anyplace and by anyone. You can spend a long time at this game or just a few minutes. This game is the definition of flexibility.
Here’s how you play:
As with all cognitive skills training games, begin very simply and build one feature or item at a time in order to set your student up for success. This game is intended to help students hear sounds in the spoken word and be able to repeat them correctly – each and every sound. It helps develop the skills needed for blending and segmenting words – the foundational skills for reading and spelling.
Start with the basic sounds: /i/, /e/, /a/, /u/, and /o/ (the ‘short’ vowel sounds) as well as /t/, /d/, /m/, /n/, /k/, /p/, /s/. /b/, /w/, /f/, /h/, /l/, /z/, /r/, /v/. Start with single sounds and proceed from there. Make sure that you are making the sounds correctly. For example, the sound /d/ is often mispronounced as “duh”. Try your best to avoid using the extra sound (this is really /d/ /u/). You say ‘dad’ not ‘duh a duh’!
Once the single sounds are mastered, begin by combining them into nonsense words and say them to your child. Star with just a vowel and a consonant (VC or CV presentation). Any combination will work. No need to worry about spelling right now.
Some ‘words’ you may choose would be:
Ak, ip, ta, fi, de, un, co, su, ra, em, le, ba, op, wi, and so on.
Say the make believe word and the student must correctly repeat the “word” without mistakenly changing a sound. If a sound is substituted for a different sound simple say “beep” and repeat your word. NEVER let them slide on a sound being off. In this game close is not good enough as it could actually create an incorrect auditory interpretation of something spoken – in short a bad neural pathway.
If your child struggles with this, after four failed attempts, break the ‘word’ down into two sounds separated by a pause and then blend it together. For example: /p/ (pause) /u/ and then /pu/. If need be, your child can repeat the single sounds first and then follow with the blended nonsense word. You want your child to succeed not fail. If they try unsuccessfully too many times in a row they can come to believe they can’t do the activity and this can develop into an self fulfilling prophesy as their brains ‘learn’ to believe this lie as a truth.
Once the two sound words are mastered with all the sounds listed above, it would be appropriate to add in other sounds and more of them. Do this incrementally by adding new sounds to mastery and then (and only then) add in more complexity by increasing the number of sounds in the nonsense words. You can use all sounds including the ones that are usually spelled with more complex codes (such as ‘igh’ as in light and ‘oo’ like in look and boot) since you are not worrying about spelling at this time, just focus on the pronunciation and sounds.
My kids really get into this game and end up with words as silly and complicated as hinkpointching (if you have trouble reading it break it down: hink-point-ching) and hinklestinkerplock (hinkle-stinker-plock).
Have the kids join in by saying words of their own making to you so they can be “teacher” and you the “student”. Occasionally, it is helpful to give them the opportunity to correct your mispronunciation of a sound within the word you are given by them. When they get really good you probably won’t even have to try to give them the opportunity to correct you – it will happen often enough anyway!
As Plutarch said : Many things which cannot be overcome when they are together yield themselves up when taken little by little.