I’m excited to welcome Cathie Perolman back to the Trillium Montessori Blog! Last time she was here, she gave us a wonderfully detailed look at many of her letter work activities. Today she’s got a great letter sounds game to share with us. This is perfect for students who are in the “second period” of learning their letter sounds. Enjoy!
The Letter Race Game
I wanted an interactive game that could be played by two children that would practice the sounds of the letters. This game is modeled after Snail Pace Race, a commercially made game but uses the letter groupings and color coding that is in our classroom. In my room each letter group has four letters except that last group which has six letters. Since a die has six sides I had to have six letters in the game. So I use the letters from the grouping and the vowel and one consonant from the previous group.
I made the game board from a white woven placemat that I got for a couple of dollars. Using a pencil and a ruler I carefully divided the space into six columns and seven rows. Each section needs to be large enough to hold the largest letter from the movable alphabet. 2 inches square was the size for us. I then embroidered the lines using blue embroidery floss. This took a bit of time and was well worth it.
Next I needed to make the dice for the color groups. I bought wooden cubes at the craft store and painted them with acrylic
paint. I made one die for each color group: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple. I used a black Sharpie marker to write the letters on the sides of the dice.
Red: s, m, a, t
(and on the other two sides I put an asterisk which means “roll again”.
This was necessary since the red group has only four sounds.)
Orange: c, r, i, p, a, m
Yellow: b, f, o, g, i, c
Green: h, j, u, l, o, b
Blue: d, w, e, n, u, j
Purple: k, q, v, x, y, z
Of course you could have any review letters you might want from the previous color group.
I store the dice and the movable alphabet letters necessary to play the game in a small glass bowl. My co-teacher eventually coded them with a circle drawn in the corresponding color of Sharpie marker. (The truth is they sometimes still get mixed up but it is certainly better!)
How to Play
In order to play one of the children has to know the sounds of the letters in the letter group. They then lay out the mat with the short side at the top of the table. They say the sound of each letter as they place it in one of the squares along the top row of the mat.
One child rolls the die and says the sound. (In my class the child who brought the work from the shelf to the table always gets to go first.) Then that sound moves down the mat one square. Now the second child rolls, says the sound and moves the letter one space.
Continue playing taking turns. This game lends itself to a lot of analysis and discussion. “First ‘guh’ was winning but now ‘errr’ is ahead. I think ‘err’ will win!”
Continue playing until one sound “wins!
This game is very popular and children play with a variety of partners. Just keep an ear open to ensure that the children are practicing the sounds of the letters and not the name of them!
Have fun making and using this game!
– Cathie Perolman
If you’d like to see more of the amazing materials that Cathie uses in her Montessori Language Area, you can check out her site at CathiePerolman.com. She has put all of her printables together on a CD with a detailed instruction manual. I think they’re fantastic and will save you a ton of time… specially if you’re just starting to put your language program together! You can get more details and some free printables on CathiePerolman.com. Or, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions!
Cathie Perolman has been involved in Montessori education for over three decades. She has a BS in Early Childhood Education and a M.Ed in Elementary Education with a concentration in Reading. She has spent time working as a reading specialist as well as teaching students preschool through college.
She began her Montessori journey as a classroom assistant, and worked as a classroom directress, 3-6 team leader, teacher trainer and college professor.
Cathie is the author of Practical Special Needs For the Montessori Method: A Handbook for 3-6 Teachers and Homeschoolers and the creator of Hands on Phonics : a phonics based system of teaching reading to young children. She is a regular contributor toTomorrow’s Child and Tomorrow’s Leadership magazines.
Cathie currently conducts workshops for teachers and administrators, works as a teacher trainer for various training centers across the country and as a school consultant. She currently co-teaches a Primary class at Nurturing Nest Montessori School in Columbia, MD. Cathie has been married to Gary for 34 years and they have two adult children and an adorable granddaughter!