Short Vowel Sounds

It’s a challenge to teach phonetics here (well I am sure everywhere, but I only have experience here), because the kids don’t usually have a large enough vocabulary  before they start reading and writing in English. Kids usually learn to spell by memorization.  I really wanted to create a game where kids could start listening/pronouncing to see if they could distinguish short letter sounds-so they could start to learn to spell phonetically, just as they learn to spell in Italian.  There are a few words that the kids would know (at least according to Italian curriculum) and a few new ones.  This way they wouldn’t have to learn a whole new vocabulary, but couldn’t depend on the fact that they knew how to spell some of the words already.  We’ve used the cards to play a few different games, so far it’s been a good challenge.   For all the games you will need to print off 1 copy each of card, laminate and cut out.  I’m including what each card is, because although I thought it was clear, the kids  pointed out certain cards could have more than one name. (The little stinkers don’t let me get away with anything :o)

halligalli short a 1

cat, bag, sad, jam map, lamp, crab, flag, clam, black

halligalli short e

ten, bed, net, red, egg, tent, desk, sled, bell, seven

halligalli short i

pig, pin, sit, six, big, king, fish, milk, ship, stick

halligalli short o

pot, top, dog, mop, box, rock, frog, stop, lock, clock

halligalli short u

bug, bus, sun, gum, sub, plum, duck, jump, drum, truck

Here are the games we played:

What’s Missing

Single Sound Slam – This is a good game if you are just working on 1 sound, for example short a.  You will need a ball or a bell.  Place the bell in the center of the table. Take 1 short  a card out of the deck and place it face up.  The teacher flips one card over, if the sound matches the face up card (in this case short a), the first kid to grab the bell wins a point.  If the bell is grabbed and the sounds don’t match, the student gets a point taken away.

Sound Slam – Pull out 1 card from each sound and place them face up on the table.  All the kids sit facing the teacher.  The teacher flips 1 card and the first kid to slam her hand onto the cards with matching sound wins a point.  If the wrong card is slammed, a point is lost.

Memory, with a Twist –  when I told the kids we were going to play Memory, they all said, ‘But, the cards don’t match!’  And they were right! The game is played just like regular memory, but instead of finding matching pictures, the kids find matching short vowel (or middle) sounds.

Written Memory:  If the kids already know how to write, take out all the cards of one sound.  Give the kids a few minutes to memorize all the cards.  Take the all the cards away and then have the kids write down as many cards as they remember.   I never tell the kids that the cards are spelled with the same vowel, it’s amazing that they figure it out and make fewer spelling mistakes.  It seems too easy, but I think it’s okay because the challenge is to remember the cards, not struggle with how to spell.  Plus, spelling in English is so difficult for kids, sometimes it’s good to play an easy spelling game, where they can feel proud and not easily discouraged.  The game can also be played by mixing up the cards, but it’s much more of a challenge because the kids usually remember fewer cards and struggle with the spelling a bit more.

Complicated to explain, but not so complicated to play:

Flip Flop – this is a good small group game. Prep: you will need the cards, plus a bell or a horn or a small ball to put in the center of the table. Each player is dealt a card, until all the cards are dealt out, each player should have the same number of cards. (There are 50 cards, so this only works properly if you can divide the number of players into 50.  If you have 3, 4, 6 or 8 players, you will have to take out 2 cards (of the same sound)- that way there will be 48 cards.  If you have 7 players, you will either have to take out 8 cards, so that there will be 42 cards in the deck or take out 1 and there will be 1 card that won’t have a match.  That said – here is how to play: each player places their stack of cards in front of themselves face down.  One at a time players flip a card face up, (making sure to flip the card towards the group and not towards himself, so that everyone can see).  When there are 2 cards of the same sound face up, the first player to grab the bell in the center of the table says the matching cards/sounds and wins those 2 cards.  Attention, if that reveals 2 more cards with the same sound, the bell can be grabbed again.  Once everyone has flipped over 1 card, the round begins again with each player flipping another card face up and stacking it on top of his previous face up card.  (Each player should have two stacks of cards, one face down and one face up).  When all the cards are exhausted, each player gathers his stack of face up cards and play begins again.

For all the games: make sure you and the kids stretch out the vowel sounds so the kids can hear them better.

If you have any other ideas of how to use these cards write us about it, we’d love to hear what you have to say.  Here is a special challenge:  you may have noticed that each set of cards has 5 three letter words, 3 four letter words and 2 five letter words- there is some sort of Scrabble game just waiting to be invented!).

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What’s Missing – A Flashcard Game

To play What’s Missing, you will need several flashcards (FCs) and a square scarf, handkerchief  or other piece of NON transparent material.  Here’s how to play:

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1.  Set down one FC, point and say what it is – have the kids repeat the FC back.

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2. Set down a second FC and say what it is, have the kids repeat the FC back.

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3.  Set down a third FC and say what it is, have the kids repeat the FC back

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4.  Cover all your FCs with the scarf.  Wave your hands over the top like a magician and say ‘Hocus Pocus.’  Slip your hand under the scarf and pull out a card, but don’t let your audience see what it is.

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5.  Point to the empty spot and say what’s missing.

Whoever guesses the correct card wins!

Simple right? Yes, the kids know it’s not magic, some will even call you out. But, who cares? They have just learned 3 new words.  After you’ve done it a few times, you can get the kids to be the magician, they really like to play the role. Congratulations, you’ve just gotten your kids to talk – and that is the real magic!

For younger kids, we usually keep the number of cards to just a few (3 – 5 cards).  For older kids keep adding more cards:

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1. Put the missing FC back and add another FC, say what it is and have the kids repeat.

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2.  Add another FC, say what it is and have the kids repeat.

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3.  Add another FC, say what it is, have the kids repeat.  Point and repeat each FCname -either the kids will chant with you or they will repeat after you.

IMG_24654. Repeat Step 4 from above.  Keep adding FCs in the same way and see how many cards you can get up to.  It gets a bit difficult later on because cards start flying away when you pull off the scarf, but the kids will usually remember the order of the cards and want them put back exactly the same.

Playing the game like this is also a good way to make yourself feel old, you will be amazed at how much better the kids’ memories are compared to yours!  I try and figure out which card I pull away, but usually I have to check.

Sometimes we Muggles can pull off a magic trick, even if we didn’t get to go to Hogwarts!

Flags Slam

Preparation: Print 1 copy of each sheet, laminate and cut out each card.  (There are 10 cards on each sheet, which is a total of 20 small cards):

Print 1 copy of each sheet, laminate and cut the sheets in half on the line. (There are 2 large cards per sheet, which is a total of 12 cards).

How to Play: 1 player is chosen as the dealer.  Each player is dealt 3 flag cards (the small ones).  Each player places their 3 cards face up in front ofherself f.  2  The dealer flips a large card over in the center of the table.  3 The first player to see one of her flags  on that (large) card, slams her hand on the large card.  If he is correct, she puts that card in a discard pile.  If she is incorrect and makes a mistake she is dealt another flag as a penalty. 4. The first player to get rid of all her cards wins and becomes the next dealer.
Hint – I usually play this game to learn I am/nationalities.    So when the player slams her hand – she must answer with” I am Russian” (or French or English etc) in order to win.

Polar Bear What Did You Hear? Memory Game

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Animal Sounds Memory!  To play this game, print and cut out 4 copies of the first sheet with all the animals and one of the sheet with zookeeper.

Players: 2 or more

Object of the Game:  to memorize the noises and mimes of the animals in the right order.

1. Shuffle the deck and then place it face down in the center of the table. Decide who goes first.

2. The first player draws a card and places it face up next to the deck.  She says what the animal is and imitates the sound and gestures for that animal.

3.  The second player draws a card, places it face up on top of the first player’s card.  He makes the sound and mimes the animal on the first card and then of the card he has just turned over.  And so on and so forth until a player gets an animal or it’s sound.

4.  Once a card is turned over and covered by the next player’s card, it should not be turned over and covered again.

5.  When a player makes a mistake, instead of reshuffling the deck and beginning all over – the player takes a penalty card from the face up pile. Whoever has the most penalty cards (once all the cards have been turned over) begins the next round.

Variation – at the beginning of the game, set a time limit on how long the game will last. The winner is the person with the least penalty cards.

Other uses for the cards – you can also use these cards to play memory the classic way, Go Fish!  or Guess Who?

Morning Routine

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What do you do before school?  Isabella has created this fun game to help you remember.

Preparation:  you will need 6 copies of the cards above.  Cut them out and then you are ready.

The Object of the Game:  Memorize all the actions in the correct order.

How to Play:

  • Shuffle the deck of cards and put them in the center of the table.  Decide who goes first.
  • The first player draws a card and puts it face up next to the deck of cards.  He says what the person on the card is doing and does the action.
  • The second player draws a card and puts it face up on top of the card the first player drew.  First, she says what was on the first player’s card and does the action, then she says what is on her card and then does the action.
  • The third player draws a card and puts it face up and on top the 2nd player’s card and so on and so forth.
  • Play continues like this until one of the players makes a mistake (either by saying the wrong action, doing the wrong movement or says one of the actions  in the incorrect order).  If a player makes a mistake, he must take a card from the face up pile as a penalty.  When all the cards from the deck are finished (or you have played for predetermined set  of time), the game ends.  The person with least amount of penalty cards wins.

Mr Clicketty Cane

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Mr Clicketty Cane is such a silly song to learn daily activities.  Kids think it is so funny and crack up every time they sing it.  It’s a great song because there is a lot of movement and acting out you can do while singing.  Here are some cards to teach the silly vocabulary from the song and the vocabulary with the ‘normal’ words. As usual, you can learn the vocabulary by playing Memory, Go Fish, Pictionary and this is a fun game to play Charades with since you can also mime out the words!

An alternative to the traditional way to play Memory: instead of finding pairs of the same cards, try play Association Memory.  Play with just one copy of each card.

  • Separate the vocabulary from the song and the vocabulary with correct things you use to wash your face, clean your teeth ecc.
  • Turn the cards face down, as in Memory, but look for the two words that go together- ie face/orange juice.
  • As in Memory, the one who finds the most cards wins.
  • You can play again by switching the silly vocabulary with the ‘normal’ things you use and play again (so this time you will need to find face/ soap, etc).

ps In case you are wondering….The song is from an Australian man named Peter Combes.  In some regions of Australia, they call a slide a slippery dip.

Dolch Words List Pre-Primer

What are Dolch words?  Long story short: a man named Edward William Dolch made up a list 220 frequently used words that need to be recognized in order to improve fluency in reading the English language.  Some words you can sound out, but many are ‘sight words’ and must be memorized. You can also click on Edward William Dolch and Wikipedia will tell you  more about Mr Dolch and give you a full list of the words.

You can play Memory, Go Fish or if you print off the sheet below, you can play POW!

To play POW! Just cut up the cards and put them into a bag.  One player at a time takes out a word.  If she can read the word, she keeps it.  If ‘take another turn’ or ‘lose a turn’ is drawn, player does as the card says.  The exciting part is when POW is drawn.  If POW is drawn, the player must say POW and put all her cards back into the bag.  The winner is the person with the most cards.  You wont need all the cards from the last sheet, only about one of each per 5 players.

Check out Mrs.Perkins’ she has a lot of great ideas on games to play with the words.  In fact our game was taken from her site.  Thanks Mrs. Perkins!