Teaching Thomas: Playing Games

For Thomas, everything we do is about games. Or rather, for me, in order to get him to do what I want him to do, I have to phrase it as a game, even if it obviously isn’t. Sometimes, he’ll fall for it. Sometimes, he’ll see through my bluff, call me out, and refuse to do the task.

Which makes me think, after trial and error, what makes a task fun and convincing enough to pretty much trick a kid into thinking its a game. Here are a few “games” that we “play”:

1. Having him put consonants and vowel cards together to make a word, such as [b]+[all] = ball. If he makes a correct word and pronounces it correctly, we play hot hands for a few rounds. Then onto the next word.

2. We read out of a guided reading textbook from his kindergarten class. I let him choose his favorite page to read and tell him that for every two sentences we read, we will play a “game”, such as hot hands or tic tac toe.

3. When learning the “s” sound, we played Simon Says (stand, sit, scratch, smile, stare, sing, etc) and had staring contests.

4. When learning the “r” sound, we played “Ringo”, which is essentially Bingo but Thomas gets to fill out the sheet with “r” sounds that he knows.

5. I’ve found worksheets that have a board game setup where we move space-by-space depending on what number we roll. Each space has a word with the sound we’re learning and the entire path takes the shape of the letter the sound corresponds to. So if we’re learning “n”, the path takes the shape of an “N” and all the spaces have words like “name”, “nap”, or “new”. These activities are his favorite; we’ll go over them again and again and he never gets tired of it. It’s probably because this one is actually a game.

I’ll add more to the list as I try more games with Thomas. That’s the thing with teaching kids – they’re always excited about trying out something new.

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