Magnetic letters are one of the most versatile literacy resources. Stick them on the friedge and the children can regularly be exposed to letters, they may even recognise some that they’ve learnt in their phonics classes. We invented and road test three games using magnetic letters.
THE TREASURE HUNT
What child doesn’t love to hunt for things or play hide and seek? We had our own treasure hunt with a difference - our treasure was letters. While the children shut their eyes, I went on a mad dash around the garden dropping letters here and there. Minutes later the children were let loose hunting for letters. Depending on the age of your child you may just which to expose them to letter shapes so they simply collect them and then you can tell them the sounds they make, but you could hide the letter that they learnt this week in class or a couple of letters that they are learning and once they’ve found them ask them the sound the letters make. For older children once they have found several letters (for example satpin) they could see what words they could make.
THE LETTER SHOP
If your child does recognise a few letter shapes then you can play the letter shop. This is basically a shop role play game but you ae buying magnetic letters. You go to the shop and ask for the letter you want, the child finds it and you pay. Then the roles are reversed, and you are the shop assistant and the child is the customer. If using magnetic letters is too tricky then could use objects to teach one initial sound. This game is great if you want to bombard your child with one sound so if you were learning /s/ you could have a shop full of s items that you wanted to buy. Adding a till and money could enhance the role paly game. For an older child they could write a shopping list of the letters they wanted thus including the element of writing into the game.
A SORTING GAME
We are lucky enough to have a place mat with all the letters of the alphabet on but if you don’t you could write letters on a piece of paper or print one off. This game is another simple one – give your child a heap of magnetic letters and get them to sort them and match them to the letters on the mat. This can simply be a sorting game or, if you wish, you could talk about the sounds that each letter makes. For older children (I would recommend this for children at school) you could talk about both the letter sound and the name.