ABC fun games

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Learning the English alphabet is  the very first step to learning the language and achieving fluency. And for our beginning students just learning how to use the English alphabet, here are some fun games I have tried, so far,to help teach and review the ABC in  class.

Most of them I have found online and adapted for my classes.

I have been inspired to use several of them in ELT seminars and teacher development courses I have attended….

I have also included, few games  I have come up with, while improvising in class…

I am also uploading some photos, taken in class this school year, of games that have worked and have been  much fun!

Well, here it goes!

 

CUP HUNT

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  1. Write the letter of the Alphabet on the white sticker or directly onto the cups.
  2. Model how to play in whole group or small group setting.
  3. Have the children close their eyes.
  4. Place a treat under one of the cups.
  5. Chant, “Eye Spy, I Spy.”
  6. Children open their eyes.
  7. Call on students one at a time to guess which cup is hiding the eyeball.
  8. Students read letter of the cup where they think the eyeball/treat  is.
  9. Students lift the cup to see if they are right
  10. Game continues until the treat is found.
  11. Repeat game again.
  12. They can keep  the treat, only if they manage to say a word which starts with it as soon as they find it!

These cups take up less room and work great for letters, words, and numbers too. The students  can:

  • Say the letter.
  • Say the sound.
  • Name something that begins with the letter.
  • Put the cups in ABC order first.

LETTER MONSTER SWATTER

I was inspired to create this the other day and I thought I’d share it if anyone would like to use it. I just printed 2 copies (one for each team ), then cut out the different pieces and glued them together. Then I laminated it and taped it onto a fly swatter with the middle part cut out. It can work as a letter monster, a word monster, or even a number monster

 

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LETTER PLATES and CLOTHES PIN LETTER MATCH

I have to thank my friend Andrianni Tsarkou for reminding me of this idea , during her EEPEK workshop , last November in Larissa.

I used a large paper plate and a medium size for this one.  The first I simply took a marker and wrote the letters around it and the second I used my cool “Jumpo ” stickers (needed the bigger plate for the size). Then I took my clothes pins and wrote the letters on those too. I put them in a bowl next to the plate and there you go!

Kids match clothes pins with lowercase letters to uppercase letters on this  paper plate.

You can also combine these two ideas ,like I did in the photos, below..

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WRITING WITH BOTTLE CAPS

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Make a  set of “alphabet” caps to help students learn the letters. Write a letter of the alphabet on each cap . Make two or three caps for common letters such as A, E, I, O, U, C, D, H, L, N, R, S, T.

You can give the students words in capital letters  to write them in small letters, and vice versa. They work in teams. The team which writes the word faster, wins!

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More ideas:

  • Using the alphabet caps, help students to spell out their names. Are there other words they might be able to spell out with the caps, such as “mom”, “dad”, “dog”, or “ball”?
  • Place all your alphabet caps in a bag and shake them up. Ask  a student to draw one cap out of the bag and read the letter out loud. Then she/he  has to think of something that starts with that letter. Allow for phonetic spellings, for example if she/he says “phone” for the letter “f”.

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Even more ideas, I have come across are:

Write letters or chunks on them and make words.

Colored circle stickers are perfect size for bottle caps.

Write words/numbers before you try to stick them on. Its hard to write once they’ve been stuck to the cap –

Write words (person, place, things, actions) on each color and pull out to use as a writing prompt –

Write letters and make a scrabble game –

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Write high frequency words and have kids create sentences (color code by parts of speech –

Elkonin Technique for hearing sounds of a given word. Pull down caps as each sound is heard –

Compound Word Matching Game –

Write words on caps and put them in ABC order –

Write sight words on lids and try to stack them in towers up as you read more and more words –

Game pieces for sight word tic tac toe

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ABC MINI BOOKS

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For this you need: white paper & old magazines or simply ask your students to draw their own pictures.  Each week we choose a new letter to work on. Write the upper and lower case letter on a piece of white paper, then go through old magazines with your Ss to find pictures that begin with that letter (or just draw their own pictures). Let them cut them out and glue them on the paper, which helps them improve their cutting skills too!  The Ss love to look at it over and over.

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For instructions about how to make a mini book, read here

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THE HAMMMER GAME

I found these hammers at JUMBO, after we had finished with our ABC and basic vocabulary.

I could have made some cards with words on them but, I finally decided to write those words on the board and play there, instead.But, it worked out fine, that way, too!

I called out a word and who ever hit it first with the hammer got  to keep it for their team.

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THE SNOWBALL THROW ABC GAME

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I use the same game for word recognition, before we finish the Alphabet. If you wish to do the same after you have finished teaching  the Alphabet and some basic vocabulary, you can ask the players to spell the word they hit, or you can spell a word for the players to spot and hit! The teacher could also, call a word in the student’s mother tongue . The players find and throw the snowball at the corresponding English word on the board, to win a point for their team.

If younger  students don’t know the letter sounds yet, you can just call out a letter and they can throw a snowball at it once they find it on the wall. For a faster paced game, you can call out a letter sound and the players throw a snowball at the corresponding letter.

TOUCH AND KNOW

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Blindfolds and oversized cardboard letters or magnetic letters ( I have bought them from JUMBO) help our juniors get a feel for the alphabet in this tactile game. Prepare several letter cutouts ( or use the magnetic ones, like I did) and place them in a  box. In turn, have each child wear a blindfold as he draws a letter from the box, feels its shape, and identifies the letter by touch.We play this game in teams and it’s great fun!

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ABC RELAY RACE

Have two students, one from each team, stand next to their team alphabet line, on the board . Explain to them that they have to run and write the corresponding small/capital letter , next to each one of the letters in their line .You can even work with letter sounds or ask them to write a word that starts with each letter they see. There are numerous variations of this game… The first team to finish, wins.

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This is such a fun game! My students loved it!

Practice letter recognition and letter sounds with a fun game that gets kids moving.

A fun variation, can be watched here

And for more ideas, you can read this …

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THE SNAIL BOARD GAME

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Well, if I am not mistaken, the original idea belongs to Papadeli Sophia but, I have seen several variations of it, online, so far!

I ask them to say/spell a word that starts with each letter.

An fun ABC board game, played in pairs.

 

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DRAW IT, MIME IT OR SPELL IT

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We play this game, with new words or vocabulary I wish them to revise.

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Get students into groups of three or four and ask them to sit around a table. Put a set of picture cards face down on each table. Distribute the cards evenly among the group. Tell them their cards are secret! They must not show them or talk about them. Students now think of  how they can draw it, spell or mime it. Give them time, but not too much. Students take turns in , miming, spelling or drawing, while the others in the group guess. The student with the fastest correct answer gets the card with the word. The winner is the person with the most correct answers.

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THE ABC SONG PASS-THE-BALL GAME

To help my students remember the ABC song, I have them sing it several times, of course. This is a fun way to do so!

Children develop listening skills, and practice their ABC as they pass the ball around the circle in this cooperative musical ABC game. I tell the children that when they hear a “new” letter , then the ball is passed to the next student.

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The last student holding the ball when the song finishes, is the winner and gets special stickers!

They just can’t get enough of this game! We get to sing the ABC song again and again….

If there is doubt as to who is holding the ball, for example half way through a changeover, then tell them to play “paper, scissors, rock”.

Insist that they only pass the ball, not throw it!!

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ABC and word games, on Halloween!

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Lately, we have been enjoying lots of fun Alphabet activities. Apples, leaves and pumpkins all lend themselves perfectly to letter learning activities, so we are embracing that and having tons of fun!
Here are my favorite ways to practice letter identification, uppercase and lowercase letter matching, letter sounds , word recognition and more!
Halloween Cup hunt 
  1. Write the letter of the Alphabet on the white sticker or directly onto the cups.
  2. Model how to play in whole group or small group setting.
  3. Have the children close their eyes.
  4. Place the eyeball/Halloween treat under one of the cups.
  5. Chant, “Eye Spy, I Spy.”
  6. Children open their eyes.
  7. Call on students one at a time to guess which cup is hiding the eyeball.
  8. Students read letter of the cup where they think the eyeball/treat  is.
  9. Students lift the cup to see if they are right
  10. Game continues until the eyeball/treat is found.
  11. Repeat game again.
  12. They can keep  the treat, only if they manage to say a word which starts with it as soon as they find it!

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All in all…These cups take up less room and work great for letters, words, and numbers too. The students  can:

  • Say the letter.
  • Say the sound.
  • Name something that begins with the letter.
  • Put the cups in ABC order first.
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The Pumpkin letter memory game

Alphabet Memory Game on…pumpkin templates!

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  1. Put the pumpkin  picture cards aside. Mix up all of the uppercase and lowercase cards.
  2. Place them face down on the table or floor in a grid-like pattern.
  3. Have a student choose two pumpkin cards anywhere on the grid.
  4. Are the letters a match? Big A with little a? If so, that student  gets to remove those cards from play and keep them for his/her team . He also gets to go again!
  5. If they don’t match, turn them back over, and the next person/team  goes. Even if the cards don’t match, encourage your students  to remember where those cards are in case they need to find them again!
  6. Keep playing until all of the cards have been matched. The team with the most matches wins the game.

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Game 2: Letter Sounds Memory Game with Halloween vocabulary!

This game is played the same way except you use one set of alphabet cards and the Halloween picture cards. Try to make a match by finding the picture’s beginning letter!

Set a timer for a few minutes and see how many matches he can get.

 

 

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 The Alphabet Monster
 I spread the letters/pictures  on a desk and tell my students  that the monster was VERY hungry and only eats letters/pictures … BUT that he can only eat them if you say the letter’s/picture’s name first.  They quickly pick out the letters that they already know and feed them to the monster saying each letter name as she put them in.  To make the game fun and playful, I make sounds for the monster … like, “Ohhhh, I’m so hungry!” and gobbling noises after they put a letter in the box.  This receives lots of giggles and silly smiles!
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Although we are using the box for alphabet identification, he can EASILY be changed into a number or color monster!

Variation:

A nice Halloween ABC variation that my students love, has to do with a….Monster!!

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I was inspired to create this last year reading an interesting  blog post and I thought I’d share it if anyone would like to use it. I just print a copy for each team . Then I laminate it and tape it onto a fly swatter with the middle part cut out. It can work as a letter monster, a word monster, or even a number monster. I also found a cute little rhyme to go with it.

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Halloween words- Ladders to the MOON!

This is a simple game.  First, I use tape to create the ladder or just draw it on the board .  Then, I write down high Halloween words or put up flash cards with letters and sounds .  The goal is to move all the way up the ladder.  If you get the word/letter/sound  right, you advance to the next rung.  If you get it wrong, you fall all the way back to the bottom.  Of course, it can work for kids on all levels and subjects.  It can be used for vocabulary, reading, ….math facts – the possibilities are endless.

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HAPPY HALLOWEEN IN CLASS!!

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The snowball throw Alphabet game and.. a Letter Monster!

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Students love sports and any game that gives them the opportunity to throw or kick a ball at something is a win! This game, which I have come across on Pinterest, is a great way to bring winter fun indoors . Plus, it gives the students  a chance to burn off their energy when stuck inside. It reinforces letter/word recognition and letter sounds while also developing gross motor skills like coordination. It is so simple and easy to set up too!

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Materials 

Package of ping pong balls (affiliate) –You can also make a sticky tape ball or a simple paper ball.

ABC or vocabulary flashcards

Tape

or

A marker or other writing utensil

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Once I have all the flashcards taped to the wall,or letters/words written on the board, I explain the game to the kids.

They work in two teams. I tell them that they have to throw snowballs at the letters/words – pretend snowballs! They need to hold on to a snowball and wait for me to call out a letter.. Afterward, they have to locate the letter on the wall and throw the snowball at it.

Then, they tell me what sound that letter makes or what words start with that letter or the name of the letter in the Alphabet…. If they are right, they win a point for their team.

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I use the same game for word recognition, before we finish the Alphabet. If you wish to do the same after you have finished teaching  the Alphabet and some basic vocabulary, you can ask the players to spell the word they hit, or you can spell a word for the players to spot and hit! The teacher could also, call a word in the student’s mother tongue . The players find and throw the snowball at the corresponding English word on the board, to win a point for their team.

If younger  students don’t know the letter sounds yet, you can just call out a letter and they can throw a snowball at it once they find it on the wall. For a faster paced game, you can call out a letter sound and the players throw a snowball at the corresponding letter.

This is tons of fun! We have done most of the game variations above and my little ones enjoyed them all. Some of the letters were high up on the board, so he had the extra challenge of trying to hit those letters with the  ball.

I love it when my students are happy! Games, make them happy, for sure! I am sure, your students will enjoy this play-based literacy activity, too !

 

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A nice ABC variation that my students love, has to do with a….Monster!!

I was inspired to create this last year reading an interesting  blog post and I thought I’d share it if anyone would like to use it. I just print a copy for each team . Then I laminate it and tape it onto a fly swatter with the middle part cut out. It can work as a letter monster, a word monster, or even a number monster. I also found a cute little rhyme to go with it.

Here’s the template.

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This strategy is a fun way for students to get engaged. It teaches reading in a fun way. It helps students look at all the letters in a word one by one. This strategy also teaches blending. The students look at one letter at a time and blend them together to make a word. This strategy can be applied to all areas across the curriculum. Students will be assessed by using the letter monster swatter.

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An amazing language exchange project, with Taiwan

Spelling in Greek! How cool is that?? Language ambassadors in action...

Spelling in Greek! How cool is that?? Language ambassadors in action…

 

Alexiana , holding her flashcards!

My daughter Alexiana , holding her flashcards!

When an English speaker doesn’t understand something, he would say “It’s all Greek to me.” But have you ever wondered about the origin of that phrase? Why Greek? Why not, say, Urdu or Aramaic?

I have looked it up in  a dictionary and found out that, it comes from the latin phrase Graecum est, non legitur or Graecum est, non potest legi (It is Greek; it cannot be read). Medieval Latin scribes in monasteries would write that phrase if they had trouble translatin

The Alphabet flashcards

The Alphabet flashcards

 

The phrase probably entered modern English usage when William Shakespeare used it in his 1599 play The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. Here it is in Act 1 Scene 2:

Cassius: Did Cicero say any thing?
Casca: Ay, he spoke Greek.
Cassius: To what effect?
Casca: Nay, an I tell you that, I’ll ne’er look you i’ the face again: but those that understood him smiled at one another and shook their heads; but, for mine own part, it was Greek to me. I could tell you more news too: Marullus and Flavius, for pulling scarfs off Caesar’s images, are put to silence. Fare you well. There was more foolery yet, if I could remember it.

Beautiful artwork!

Beautiful artwork!

In this context, an educated and wealthy aristocrat in the Roman Republic should be able to read and speak Greek. Casca, who speaks fluent Greek, is probably just playing dumb because he doesn’t want to repeat a remark that is unflattering to Caesar.

Obviously, when a Greek doesn’t understand something, he doesn’t say “It’s all Greek to Me.” Rather, he says, Αυτά μου φαίνονται κινέζικα, or “This strikes me as Chinese.”

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Chinese is rated as one of the most difficult languages to learn.The Kangxi dictionary contains 47,035 characters!!!

Well, this language exchange  was Annie’s idea ,with which I agreed at once !   Annie and me thought that, we could both try to….help  solve this misunderstanding!! Or just, try to help our students get more familiar with another alphabet or characters which might have seemed weird to them till then…therefore, promote multilingualism and multiculturalism! mosaic taiwan greek4

 

To start with, Annie came up with the idea of using  flashcards, for our language exchange project! I asked my  students to produce the flash cards for me. I gave each one an item to draw. I also asked them to make a second flashcard with the one letter of the Greek Alphabet and a third one with the word of the item they had drawn on their first card, in greek !They were all  later mounted on card to make the set. There were  3 different piles: one with the alphabet , 24 letters, one with the words only and a third one with the words in picture cards, both in Greek and English.

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We also, decided to send our partners in Taiwan ,one of the books teachers use to teach Greek  language to the first graders in all Greek schools..she was asked to  show it to her  students and tell them it was  our first graders greek language book!

Word flashcards

Word flashcards

My partner teacher in Taiwan, Annie Tsai did something similar: She asked her students to make flashcards of some basic/interesting Chinese characters and they ‘ve recorded a few simple greeting language video clips. They also created beautiful and very artistic picture  flashcards , and a sepearate pile of word flashcards for each one of the picture flashcards!The words on them, were written both in mandarin and english!

The activities we did in my class using the mandarin flashcards, were the following:

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Memory Activities

Memory Tester

I placed a selection of  word flash cards on the floor in a circle.

Students had five  minutes to memorise the cards.

In groups, they had two minutes to write as many of the names  they could  remember as possible , on the board.Too hard to do  for most of my students…but, working in teams, made it easier!

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Matching Game ( old time classic) 

I spreaded  all the cards ( both picture and word cards ) on the floor .  Students took  turns flipping two cards and calling out the cards that they flipped ( in english) .  If  it was  a pair then they kept  it and got  a point.  If they didn’t  call out the card then they couldn’t  keep it.

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TPR activities

Point or race to the flash cards

I stack  picture  flash cards around the class.

I showed  their word flashcard match    and students pointed  or raced  to the right picture card.

Again, we played this game, in teams.

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Bring me 

I placed a selection of  picture cards and word on the floor  at the far end of the class. Students stood  behind a line at the other end. I shouted, ‘Bring me a shirt- one of the  flashcards words, which was both written in English and in Mandarin!’ The first student who handed  in both the word and the picture shirt flashcards,  won  the cards.

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Search Game

I gave all students a word card. Then, I hid  the picture cards around the classroom, on things, under things, and in things.  I had the students look around the room for one or two minutes to find the word card that matched their picture card! I awarded stickers to all students who finally managed to do so. I made sure, the fastest students got bigger stickers…

This is what our friends sent us as their language delegates! Cute!

This is what our friends sent us as their language delegates! Cute!

Spelling activities

Spelling Game

That was the last activity we did, on day two. I asked the students to take one pair of flashcards ( word card and its matching picture card ) at home.

They had to try to learn the mandarin spelling of that word and recall it, the very next day we had a lesson. In turns, students had to come to the board and try to write that word in mandarin without looking at their flashcards!

That was a team game , too! They got so excited that they asked me to play it , again and again…! Teams , were awared points and both winners and…not winners,  special stickers!

Amazing delegates! My students, took them home! They were so excited!

Amazing delegates! My students, took them home! They were so excited!

Checking spelling...

Checking spelling…

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The Search Game

The Matching Game..

The Matching Game..

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The Matching Game..

 

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The Matching Game..

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The Point or race to the flash cards game

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The Point or race to the flash cards game

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Spelling Game

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Spelling Game

Happy his spelling was right!

Happy his spelling was right!

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Spelling Game

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The Matching Game

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The Bring me game

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Spelling Game

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The Memory Tester game

 

Now, I’d like you to have a look at some of the photos from Annie’s class which show   similar activities she did with her students, using our own  flashcards!   These photos say it all…I’ll ask Annie to comment on them later….

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Our flashcards in Annie’s class! Soime of them are placed upside down!! They were as familiar with our alphabet as we were with their mandarin characters!..

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Our partners’ first effort to put our letters flashcards in alphabetical order!

They sent us these photos to help them solve the...mystery concerning these particular letters which seemed confusing to them!

They sent us these photos to help them solve the…mystery concerning these particular letters which seemed confusing to them!

Their effort to spell in Greek! This is touching, isn't it?

Their effort to spell in Greek! This is touching, isn’t it?

One more photo where they seem to say " It's all greek to us"!! haha

One more photo where they seem to say ” It’s all greek to us”!! haha

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Our Greek Language book, in Taiwan!

One of Annie's students flashcard! Amazing !

One of Annie’s students flashcard! Amazing !

A gift spinner- which I later used in my class to teach feelings- and some of the delegates which Annie sent to my students!

A gift spinner- which I later used in my class to teach feelings- and some of the delegates which Annie sent to my students!

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