Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Phoneme I Spy: Fun and Learning in the Car

My 16-month old has not begun talking yet.  One of the activities we use to ready him to do so is to play with phonemes (or the sounds of our language.)  My four year old is still solidifying her knowledge of sounds, letters and onsets (the sounds at the beginnings of words).  My almost-six year old is learning to read.  All three are constantly developing their vocabulary.  Thus, in our car, I Spy has become a staple game for having fun together while sliding in learning.
Now, I know this game is hardly new, but it is one that parents often forget to pull out of their bag of tricks, so I wanted to spotlight it today.  I know we'll be playing ti by request on our way to and from appointments.
Phoneme I Spy

  • Observant players
  • Time together in the car (or anywhere, really)

  1. Have the first player look out the car window and say, “I spy with my little eye something that beings with the sound ~.”  (For example, “I spy with my little eye, something that begins with the sound mmmm.”)
  2. Have other players guess what the first player spied.  (For example, “A mouse?”)
  3. If no one can guess, have the first player give additional hints, such as where the thing is/was located, what color it is, etc. (For example, “It’s by the side of the road.  We just went past a black one.”)
  4. Once the spied object has been revealed, have another player take a turn. (For example, “Mailboxes!”)

  • Phoneme Awareness and Recognition
  • Auditory Discrimination
  • Visual Awareness
  • Descriptive Vocabulary
  • Clarity of Speech

Quick Tips/Extensions

  • Practice past tense by allowing children to use the clue (and exaggerate the “d” sound in), “I spie~” for things that are now out of sight.
  • Practice other rimes (the vowels and letters following it that form the end of a syllable or word, such as at in cat and hat.), “I spy something that rhymes with ~.”
  • Extend vocabulary by purposely choosing words which you are not sure your children know and letting them know that the word is a challenge they may or may not know and that they should simply try to look for something that matches your description.  Then, offer both the starting phoneme and lots of clues.  Once the children give up or point out what you were thinking of, name it and have them repeat the name.  (Then,sit back and be pleasantly satisfied the next time you play and they use the word as one of their secret spied objects.  We've done this with guardrails, windmills, directional lights, etc.)
  • Practice other early learning skills and vocabulary by varying clues to such things as, “It is (size),”  It is (color),” “It is ~er than a ~,”  “It is (on/under/next to/over/etc.) the ~,” or “It is (descriptive texture word, such as smooth or bumpy).”
  • Key into other senses, such as “I hear with my little ear…” “If I were outside, I could feel with my hand/skin/feet…”
  • Extend awareness and recognition of phonemes (and just plain old silliness), by modeling other words that begin with the phoneme a child uses in his or her clue.  For example, if a child said, “I spy with my little eye something that beings with the sound ‘t’,” You might respond, “Hmmm, I don’t see any t-t-t-tigers outside.  Oh my!  Thank goodness there are no t-t-t-tarantulas in our area.  Could it be a t-t-t-teapot?  Nope.  That’s at home, not outside the car…” and so on.
  • If you have a child, like our youngest, who is not using words yet, on that child’s turn wait a few moments, listening to see if the child makes any utterance of sound.  Then, speak for the child, as in, “Oh, you spy something that starts with the sound ‘g’?  Who else sees something that starts with that sound?”  Play with the sounds!

    What quick and easy games to you enjoy playing in the car?  Do they key into learning skills or are they just for fun?  Do you play any other adaptations of “I Spy” in the car or elsewhere?
    Please share your ideas or links.

    This post is being shared at We Are THAT Family's Works for Me Wednesday because Phoneme I Spy works for helping all three of my children sharpen their skills while staying happy and engaged in the car!  It is also being shared at:


    Jenni said...

    Stopping by to say hifrom the Preschool Corner! We play this a lot in the car :) We also use the trucks traveling on interstate to learn/review colors. There are so many learning experiences while strapped in a car!

    Beth ( said...

    Very fun! I think some of my best memories are with my kids in the car. They say such funny things, ask great questions, play fun games, and my son asked Jesus in his heart in the car =-) Thanks for linkinkg up to TGIF! Have a GREAT thanksgiving & I will see you next week,
    Beth =-)

    Unknown said...

    Stopping by from Preschool Corner, and I LOVE what I see! This post is wonderful and as much as it sounds silly to say it I hadn't thought about playing I Spy with phonemes! It'll be perfect for us to play this week.
    Thank you!
    -MissAmanda @

    Trina said...

    Hi! Visiting from Preschool Corner! What great ideas you have here! I will be playing this game this week. I probably don't play enough games in the car, but we do sing a lot! Thanks for sharing!


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