Make Early Learning Fun
Want playtime to pay off? We've got 16 fun educational games that'll set your tot up for success in preschool, kindergarten, and beyond.
Camera letter hunt: Ages 4 to 5
Grab your camera or smartphone. The challenge? Spot everyday objects shaped like letters, such as the “Y” in a tree branch, and help your child photograph them so that they're the focal point of the picture. For inspiration, pick up the book Alphabet City, by Stephen T. Johnson, which is filled with his striking photographs of letters he found in the urban landscape, including an “M” in the arches of the Brooklyn Bridge and an “A” formed by a sawhorse at a construction site.
This game will boost your child's observational skills while reinforcing the letter shapes, Bardige says. “Some children may find the ‘S’ on a stop sign rather than something in the shape of an S, but that's OK,” she says. “You can build from that and look for more interesting examples together.” Once you've found the whole alphabet, print the pictures and put together a flip book.
Letter scramble: Ages 3 to 5
Cut eight big letters out of foam or cardstock. Have your child trace each a few times, and then tape them to a plastic tablecloth you've laid on the floor. Call out a letter, and challenge your child to race to it. Another variation: Make him jump to the correct letter, as if you're playing alphabet Twister. Once your child is familiar with that group of letters, tape new ones to the plastic. Phonics upgrade: Shout out a word and have him race to the first letter.