Inspiration struck me a couple of nights ago during a middle-of-the-night feeding. I was thinking about how to keep my son busy and work on letters and numbers, thinking about the stuff he does at preschool, and how I can recreate them at home. And I wanted something that will get his energy out because it’s been a little too cold to take the baby outside in the mornings when his energy is at its highest. Then I wondered if I could combine all of this, making learning some sort of full-body experience. So this is what I came up with:
It’s so simple and easy. I wrote letters on cards that I had lying around, but you can easily do it on regular paper and cut it into pieces (about four per page). I did the letters in his name and then a few others.
My son and I then taped the letters to the front door randomly. We went to the end of our entry hall so we were facing the door. I wrote a letter on his LeapPad (a chalkboard, dry erase board or scratch paper will work as well), had him try to guess it, and if he didn’t know it, I said it for him. Then I asked him to run to find it and bring it back, making a big deal: “Go! Go! Go! Run!” “Yay! You got it!” “Yes! That’s the C! Awesome job!”
We did this until we had collected all the letters to his name. Once we had them all, I wrote his name on the LeapPad (I had done one letter at a time before) and worked with him to put the letters in order, asking him what letter came next.
It’s such a simple game, but he loved it! As soon as we were done, he taped all the letters back on the door and wanted to play again. This time, we didn’t even need the LeapPad. I just asked him what letters we needed, and helped him figure it out when he got stuck.
He got a little upset when I had to stop to feed the baby, and made me promise we’d play after lunch. Yes, darling, I promise to make you play a fun educational game. Sheesh.
When we played in the afternoon, I realized how many variations of the game there can be. I had him go to the letters in different ways (crab crawl, hopping, etc.), I asked him to match letter sounds (What letter says “Ssss”?), I had him put the letters back on the wall one at a time… The more we played it, the more changes we could make to make it fresh.
He was so excited to show my husband what he learned that day when my husband got home! We had another round of letter racing, and then something kinda creepy happened. When we were done, our son started to put letters back on the door. I got distracted drawing on the LeapPad (oops) and my husband was taking care of the baby. He looked up and said “Did you have him do that?!?” I looked up and saw this:
Yup. My son spelled “robot” completely by accident. He had no idea he had done that. He’s a bit of a perfectionist, so it doesn’t surprise me that he put them in a straight line in the band between the panels of the door (he’d done that a couple of times during the day), but it’s kind of creepy that he spelled out a word.
All this excitement and all it took was a sharpie, some paper and some tape.