Number one for English language teachers

Beginning reading and writing: recognition games

Level: Starter/beginner, Elementary Type: Teaching notes

A selection of games to help young learners practise using letters and sounds.

Games are motivating and help make language memorable, so try to think of lots of fun ways to practise the new letters and sounds that you are introducing to the children. 


Run and point

Pin up the letters that you have introduced to the class so far on the walls around the classroom at a height the children can reach. Nominate one student and say ‘Juan, run and point to /s/’. The child must look around and find the correct letter and run up to it and touch it or point to it. (Model the activity so that the children are clear about what they have to do).

You could then turn this into a race. Divide the class into two groups. They stand in two lines at the front of the class or down the centre of the room (it’s great if you can move furniture to the sides of the room). The children at the front of each line are the runners. You say the sound of the letter and the one to reach and touch it first is the winner. They then go to the back of the line and the next two children are the runners for the next letter. It is fine if other children in the team help the runner – it’s not a test but a means of helping children learn the sound-letter link.



What begins with /b/?

Ask the question with all the letters the children have been introduced to. They can tell you any words they know that begin with that sound. This is great for them to make their own connections between the letter and the sound. You may be surprised at how many words they know – even ones you haven’t introduced in class.


Hold up the letter

Get the children to make cards with the letters they know. Call out a sound and the children have to hold up the corresponding letter. This game allows all the children to join in and to focus on processing the sound-letter link without having to produce any language.



Recognising the letters

Produce handouts like this:

n h n m
o a o d g

Children have to recognise which is the same letter and simply circle it or maybe colour over it. The letters are actually very similar in shape, so it’s important that children can differentiate between them.



Copying

There are many good books that allow children to practise writing letters and words. They simply copy by following the arrows that show them which way their pen/pencil must move. After having done the air, body, plasticine activities it is good to move onto paper and allow the children lots of practice with holding a pencil and making the shapes. It is not easy to begin with and they need lots of practice to control their hand and follow the shape of the letter. In my experience children enjoy the task and concentrate hard on producing their letters.

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