Archive for the 'children’s games' Category

Alphabet Game: Memory and Go Fish

Alphabet Flash Cards can be used in different ways!  Hope you had fun with last week’s Battle game! Oh! I forgot to tell you that for your older kids who are into cursive, its great fun to mix a deck of upper and lower case printed alphabet cards with a deck of upper and lower case cursive cards together to play Battle with!  More cards, more fun! (if you don’t have cursive cards to play with check out my decks of printed and cursive playing cards!)

Here are 2 more fun ways to use a deck of upper and lower case cards (either print or cursive).

Memory:  Lay out the decks face down in rows.  Take turns turning up 4 cards to see if they match.  If two of the cards are the same letter, the person keeps that pair and has another turn  turning up another 4 cards.  No match? Its the next person’s turn.  The game ends when all the cards are gone. The person with the most matches wins! If there are too many cards, decrease the number just making sure there are pairs of cards.

Go Fish:  The dealer passes out 7 cards to each person.  Then lays down the remaining deck on the table.  Each person places the 7 cards in his hand and looks to see if there are two cards alike (a and A).  If there are matches, he lays them down on the table and is given two more cards.  The person to the dealer’s left, begins play by asking if a person has a specific letter.  If that person does have the letter, he must give it to the person asking for the letter.  The person asking for the letter takes the letter, places it with its matching partner, places the pair on the table and asks again for a specific letter.  If the person being asked does not have the letter, he says “Go fish” and the person must draw a card from the deck. Then its the next person’s turn to asked for a specific letter.  When a player has matched and played all of his cards, the game is over.  The person with the most matches wins the game.

Do you all have new ideas?



Summer Fun: Bowling with Blocks or Bottles!


Materials needed

Play Dough                                      Marker board and markers

Marbles/balls: Size will depend on size of the blocks that need to be knocked down

Ten wooden blocks of varying sizes or sixteen ounce water bottles (each filled partially with sand or water and carefully sealed)

1. Choose a place to play on the floor or at a table.

2. Choose the name of your team. Help your child with the beginning letter of the team.

Four year olds: Make the letters for your child out of sticks or wicky sticks or write the letters for your child on the marker board.  Do not expect him to write letters at this age.

Five years old and up:  Help your child write the beginning letter of each team on the paper (playing field).  If your child cannot write the letter, talk him through it or write it for him.  Remember the larger the letter is written, the easier it is to write and to remember.

3. Have your child use both hands to roll the play dough into long ropes to become the “bumper” pads for your bowling alley.  Put the bumper pads in place.

4. Set the blocks or bottles in a triangular pattern as in real bowling.

5. Roll the marbles or large ball down the alley, knocking down the blocks or bottles.

6. Help your child write tally marks or write numbers on the marker board to keep score.  Do not expect your child to keep adding the numbers. That is your job!


Rolling marbles down a swimming pool noodle to knock down small blocks.  The child places the marbles in the noodle, aligning the noodle with the blocks.

Shoe box with three doors cut out of it: Place the inverted shoe box at the end of the alley.  Give each “door” a number. As he rolls the marbles down the alley through a door, the child receives that number of points.

Place stickers with shapes or letters or numbers on the bottom of each bottle.  When a bottle is knocked down, the child may write or draw the shape, letters or number that appear for an extra turn.  Be a good sport if you don’t get a turn!

Memory game: Insure that there are pairs of matching stickers on the bottom of the bottles. Ask your child to find the matching pairs by turning the bottles over. The person with the most pairs wins the game.

Developmental Skills:

 Gross Motor: If playing on the floor, balance in sitting may be improved as the child moves to hit or retrieve the ball or to move his players. When standing, balance may be improved as the child shifts his weight to maintain his balance.

Fine Motor: Rolling the marbles requires precise eye hand coordination. Setting up the “bowling pins” requires arm strength and an adequate grasp of the objects. Using both hands together (bilateral integration) is promoted by using a large ball and by rolling the Play Dough ropes.

 Perceptual: Setting up the “pins” into a triangular shape stresses diagonal perception.

Numbers and letters may be learned as well as concepts of up and down.

 Language: Development of social skills such as taking turns and learning to play fair as well as losing or winning may be enhanced. Concepts of same and different, how many, are practiced.

 Tactile/Kinesthetic: As the fingers are used for precise movement, feedback is received as to their position with the hand and rest of the body.

Page 20 & 21 Alphabet Soup: Stirring Your Child’s Interest in Letters by Lyn Armstrong O.T.R.

Summer fun: Air Hockey!


Materials needed

Tape Feather   (the “puck”)
Washable   markers Cookie   sheet or tray (“playing field”)
Construction   paper Infant   nasal syringe for each team player

1. Play on the floor or at a table.  If your child is comfortable on the floor, have him lie on his stomach while propping his body up with his forearms. At the table, he should sit in a chair which allows his feet to be flat on the floor. The table top should be slightly above his arms when they are bent at his side.

2. Choose the names of the two teams.  Help your child write the first letter of each team on a piece of construction paper, which will also be your score sheet.

3. On the cookie sheet, which is your playing field, use a washable marker or a long piece of tape to mark off each team’s goal or line to cross for the team to score.  Make sure your child knows where the feather must cross for him to score a point.

4. Each person chooses a nasal syringe which will be used to blow the feather back and forth across the playing field. Place the feather in the middle of the playing field.

5. After someone says “Go”, the players use the nasal syringe to blow the feather back and forth across the playing field until one person scores by crossing the opposite line or goal.

6. When one person scores make a mark or number on the corresponding team’s paper. Play until one team achieves five points.  Remember this is FUN. Do not make it too hard for your child to score a point.

Alternate uses for the infant nasal syringe:

  • Use it as a water gun.
  • For hand strengthening fill up containers with water
  • Add paint or egg dye to cups of water and mix the colored water using the syringes.

Developmental Skills:

Gross Motor: Playing on his stomach while propped on forearms helps strengthen the upper back, neck muscles and shoulders.

Fine Motor: As the child squeezes and releases the nasal syringe, his hand may be strengthened.

Perceptual: As the feather moves back and forth, the child practices eye tracking as well as judging “near and far” distance. Numbers and letters may be learned and written.

Language: Encourage the use of words such as “close to you”, “close to me”, “here it comes”. Social skills such as taking turns and learning to play fair as well as losing and winning are practiced.

Tactile/Kinesthetic: Hand awareness may develop as the hand moves across the playing field.

Exert: Alphabet Soup: Stirring Your Child’s Interest in Letters (


Thank you to each of you who attended my talk: Birth to Three Years: Developing Fine Motor Skills at the Early Childhood Methodist Conference in Houston this past week!!!  I heard great activity suggestions made by the teachers who attended my talk.  I want to share some of them here: Please make sure the child is supervised with these!

Painting on an easel using Nerf balls dipped in paint: great for shaping little hands

Lacing using colander

Placing coffee stirrer through the tops of spice bottles (make sure the plastic flat tops with holes are securely placed on bottles) or putting laces through the larger holes.

Cutting 24 inch by 24 inch squares from thin plastic table clothes (disposable ones at the dollar store): Use the squares as scarves for moving to music or for wadding up using both hands.  The wadded ones “magically” open up when released from the hand!  Fascinating to watch even for adults!

Did I miss any one’s suggestion?  E mail me and I will include it with your name on my next blog! If you recognize your suggestion, e-mail me and I will put your name by the suggestion!

Basic Questions When Choosing a Game: Tactile/Proprioceptive

Our Tactile (touch) and Proprioceptive (knowing where our body part is in space based on reception from our joints and muscles) are extremely important to motor development as well as handwriting!  You can see how these work together by closing your eyes.  You still know whether or not you are sitting or standing or moving even with your eyes closed!

For handwriting to be automatic the motor memory for letters must come through these two sensory systems.  Try this:  Close your eyes and write your name!  Hopefully you did well! You visualized the letters, wrote them, and then received feedback through these two systems as to whether the letter was formed correctly or not.  If we had to rely solely on our visual system to give us feedback as to whether or not the letter we wrote was correct, handwriting would be  very slow!

1. Can the playing pieces be placed in a bag?  If so, have your child reach in the bag without looking and find the piece you requested.  Then place it on the playing surface.  Example: Cootie: place several body parts in the bag.  When a child rolls the dice and must choose a body part, have them reach into the bag to get it rather than just picking it up off the playing board.

2. Can drawing or writing be added to the game?  If so, can the child do the symbol with his eyes closed?  Ex: Match 7:  This game is alot like Connect 4 only the tiles have numbers on them.  If a child places a tile with the number 2 on it, ask the child to write the number 2 with his eyes closed.  If he can, he gets another turn.  If he writes it incorrectly, allow for an extra turn after you gently correct and demonstrate how to do the number the right way.  Be sure and use LARGE movements for writing.

Have fun!  I would love to know what your favorite games are!

Basic Questions When Choosing a Game or Activity: Gross Motor

1. If the game is to be played at a table or desk, does the furniture fit the child so he can sit up straight with feet on the floor?  Make sure your child has good posture by providing the right size of furniture and by building his upper body. Chair: feet flat on floor     Table top: 2 inches above bent elbow

2. Can the game be played standing at the table or while the child is sitting on a chair variation such as a ball or T stool?  Insure the development of your child’s sitting balance.

3. Can the game be played on the floor with child lying on his stomach, propped on his forearms?  This position helps strengthen the upper body and arms.

Favorite games for gross motor development: Body Boggle, Twister, Floor checkers, swing sets and climbing equipment, big boxes

Your favorites?

Choosing Games: Questions to Ask

As you  shop for toys, Apps, and other fun things, there are basic principles to think about when selecting a game or activity for your child.  I would like to share these principles taken from my book Alphabet Soup: Stirring Your Child’s Interest in Letters with you over the next several blogs.  I would LOVE your feedback as to your favorite games or activities!


1. Is the game/activity appropriate for your child’s level of functioning and not his chronological age?  Remember, the activity needs to insure success.  Build on what your child already knows or is able to do.

2. Can it be adjusted to various ages?  Games that “grow” with your child may be more cost efficient.  Example: Connect Four (Hasbro): a young child may work with patterns as he places a red chip, a black chip, a red chip, etc.  As he matures, he will be able to play the game as created.


Handwriting Questions

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Alphabet Soup: Fun Activities to Stir Your Child's Interest in Letters by Lyn Armstrong O.T.R