Luke and Nina have had an affection for the Irish classic, the Unicorn Song for some time now. So, a few weeks ago, I made them Montessori-inspired 3-part Unicorn Song cards. And, while the kids are not ready to use these in the traditional way (as described at The Joy of Learning), we have been enjoying playing many games with them. Among these are the following:
1. Concentration/Memory (for 1 or more players) : Using either two sets of picture cards, a set of picture cards and a set of picture-word cards, or a set of picture-word cards and a set of letter cards, we lay the cards face down in even rows. Then, we take turns revealing two cards. Anyone who finds a match (same pictures or pictures and starting letter/sound) gets to keep the match and go again, until they find no match.
2. Go Fish (for 2 or more players; if there are many players, use more sets of cards): Using either two sets of picture cards, a set of picture cards and a set of picture-word cards, or a set of picture-word cards and a set of letter cards, we lay all the cards face down as “fish in a pond”. Then, we each take three cards. One of us asks another, “Do you have a ___?”, naming a card we hold in our hands. (Nina sometimes simply shows us one of her cards when asking instead of naming it.) If the person asked has the card requested, the card is given to the first person, who lays the match down. If not, the person says, “No. Go fish!”” and the first person takes a face down card from the “fish pond”. The next person takes a turn asking. Play continues until all cards are matched.
3. The Everyone-Gets-One Slap Game (for 2 or more players): Using enough sets of picture, picture-word and letter cards so that each person can have one, we lay all the cards, minus one set down face up, so each card is showing. Then, the “caller” holds the remaining set as a deck. The caller looks at the first card and says, “Find a ___?”, naming the animal pictured on the card, or, “Find an animal that starts with ____?”, naming the sound of the letter or letters shown on the card. (This easily scaffolds the game to the different levels of student learning – simply matching pictures, matching pictures with phonics sounds, etc.) The other players each take one card as described. Play ends when all cards have been used. (Both Nina and Luke love being the caller. When Nina calls using the letter cards, she simply stands and says, “Who can find a card with this letter?” and shows us the letters, as she doesn’t know the sounds and letter names quite yet.)
4. The Competitive Slap Game (for 3 or more players): Two sets of cards are used. One is laid face up so all cards are showing. The other is held in a deck by the Caller. The caller draws a card and names it or names the letter/sound pictured. Players compete to be the first to slap the corresponding face up cards. Whoever slaps it gets to keep it. Whoever has the most cards at the end gets to be the next Caller.
5. Sequencing Game (for 1 or more players): Each player gets a deck of picture or picture-word cards and tries to play them in a row in the order they are mentioned in the Unicorn Song.
6. Guessing Game (for 2 or more players): One set of picture or picture-word cards are laid face up so all cards are showing. Player 1 gives Player 2 clues, such as, “These are small.” “These are gray.” “These came after the cats.” Or, ‘These start with an /r/ sound.” Player 2 tries to guess what Player 1 is thinking of. “The rats!”
7. Scavenger Hunt (for 2 or more players): Player 1 hides one set of picture or picture-word cards in different places in the room and holds another set as the calling deck. Player 1 draws one card from the calling deck and tells Player 2 to go find it’s match. Player 2 has to find the match in the room.
8. Classifying Challenge (for 1 or more players): Players try to classify cards by different attributes, for example making groups of big and small animals, of real and imaginary animals, of two-legged and four-legged animals, etc. If more than one player is playing, the other players try to guess what the groupings are about.
9. Hold It Up! (for 1 or more players): Each player gets a set of picture or picture-word cards. As we listen to or sing the Unicorn Song, we try to hold up the cards as the things pictured on them are mentioned in the song. This can get pretty funny and challenging with the fast “cats and rats and elephants” part.
10. Match ‘Em Up (for 1 player or a team): Using all three sets of cards, players try to match cards in groups of three, For example, the cats picture card with the cats picture-word card, with a “c” card.
And, of course, there are other ways to use the cards. One is as typical three-part cards and another is as pieces for a felt board story/song. (These can be made by printing the cards as is or enlarging and printing them, on cardstock and, then, attaching some velcro to the back. Or, by printing them on iron-on transfer paper – being sure to use a mirror image so the letters and words don’t come out backwards) and ironing them onto white felt.)
Also, I would love to hear about how you end up using the cards. Be sure to leave a comment, with a link if you’ve got one, to let me know.