Car Game: Find a Word, Write a Word

Word games are a fun way to pass the time on car trips. Engaging games like this one provide an opportunity for learning and can be enjoyed by children with a variety of skill levels. Yesterday, as my husband and I drove five hours to our destination, I thought, “There are so many words, on so many signs, and they are everywhere you look.” “Speed limit, airport, bridges, river, zone, quality, travel, cove, cave, winery, cattle crossing, and high winds” to list a few.

Children benefit from writing activities. This game gives them an opportunity to write. They can write on a white board with a white board marker, on paper with markers or colored pencils, and on and an iPad if they have one. Paper and pencil is my first choice because it will strengthen their motor control and their ability to copy letters in the correct order to spell words. This activity also builds their vocabulary. When they copy the word from a sign and track each letter from left to right, they are practicing decoding skills. They see patterns in words. They are reading. New words encourage conversation about the meanings of words like the word, “merge,” for example.

This is how the game works. Begin by giving your willing passengers a sheet of paper with the letters of the alphabet written vertically from top of the paper to the bottom of the paper, beginning with the letter “a” and ending with the letter “z.” If they write on paper, they will need a hard surface like a notebook to support the paper. Instruct your passengers to write a word that begins with each letter of the alphabet and to write it next to the appropriate letter. Demonstrate what you want them to do with the letter “a.”

Older children can compete with one another by attempting to be the first to fill in their list alphabetically. Alphabetically, means they need to find each word in order beginning with the letter, “a,” e.g., airport, bridge, cave, drive, exit. Younger children can write the words randomly as they find them along the way. There are other ways to make the game more challenging like timing the game but the important thing is training the eye to notice details and practicing writing. To further challenge your children, have them practice using the words in a sentence.

Any word that is spelled incorrectly doesn’t count and the list must be complete in its entirety to qualify. For tricky letters like “q, u, x, and z,” the letter can be found in the middle of the word rather than at the beginning but trying to find words that begin with the letter is the goal. Words like “quality” and “antiques” work for the letter “q” and a word like “exit” works for the letter “x.”

Try out this game on your next car trip! You’ll be amazed at all the words your children will find!.

Make a TIC-TAC-TOE game

Make a TIC-TAC-TOE game to practice spelling, writing, grammar, math facts, multiplication, anything you determine that you’d like to write on the sticky notes. Sticky notes allow you to change the game content without creating a new board each time.

Tic-Tac-Toe directions may be found on this link:


You will need a file folder, 9 sticky notes, index cards or paper, scissors, a pencil, a ruler and a sharpie marker. 

How to make the game:  Using the sharpie marker and a ruler, divide a file folder into 9 equal sections. Cut index cards or white paper into squares that will fit into the spaces on your file folder. Make 5 “X” cards and 5 “O”cards. Write content in pencil on the sticky notes.

Example of the sticky notes for the file folder: A tulip shaped sticky note is used for the example photo. Each sticky has one one word written on it in pencil so that you can erase the words and reuse the sticky notes.

Skill for this example: rhyming, word study features review, writing; word study features, “au, aw, oo, ui, ew, ea, oa, and ou.” I have written one word on each tulip. The words used are: blew, crawl, cow, teach, boat, shout, book, shoot, and suit.

How to play: The players take turns choosing a location for their “X” or “O”. Each player has to write a new word that rhymes with the original word on the sticky note before placing the “X or O” in the space.

The winner is the first player to achieve three in a row.

Sharing Books With Children

Sharing Books with Children:  A poem by Lenora Falciani.

I started with a paper and pencil.
Yes, in this computer age,
writing a poem for my professor,
on this blank, white page.

I’m not a practiced poet yet,
as you can plainly see.
But, I’ve read all kinds of poems
and they’ve inspired me.

This poem is due in just a few days.
It must be cleverly done.
So, I will create each line and each word,
one by one.  

Here goes…

Sharing books with children is enjoyable and fun.
Whether as a read-aloud or in a meadow beneath the sun.
Watching a child’s face light up with excitement and glee
at amazing stories is rewarding to me.

I can share historical fiction books 
with the children on my block,
or fantasy books about magic, 
with tutoring students after 3:00 O’clock.

There are many excellent authors to share,
different genres from which I can choose.
Non-fiction books about a bug, or a bear,
from such an assortment, I can’t lose.

If you’ll relax and open your mind
to the pages about to unfold,
incredible adventure you will find
and characters clever and bold.

Get ready to hear some stories and rhymes,
and tales of dragons in fantastical times.
Science fiction and mysteries, and people brave,
the Underground Railroad and a girl slave.

Sharing books with children is important for sure.
A book is more than you see at first glance.
So, if you can let your imagination soar,
you’ll be glad you gave books a chance.

Taking online courses

I just completed a course from Phoenix University. It was challenging but rewarding. It was my first ever online course. My computer skills are average but I had additional support from my husband who is a technology guru. The course was called, “Spanish for Educators.” It was four weeks in duration which was a little too fast for my expertise in the language but my dear friend Angie acted as my private tutor. If you need recertification credits for your teaching certificate or you want to sharpen your skills, think about taking an online course through Phoenix University. The university has personnel that want you to succeed. The technology center and library resources are helpful. The professor that I had was supportive and available. If you haven’t tried University of Phoenix, I highly recommend investigating the possibilities it has for you.


Color Matching Game

This is a visual discrimination activity that requires the student to sort the objects from the heart on the left into the correct colored section of the heart on the right. Why is visual discrimination an important skill? Students need to visually discriminate letters and words when they read. They need to be able to tell the difference between a lower case “d” and a lower case “b” for example. They need to be able to tell the difference between the word “was” and the word “saw.” The brain processes the information the student sees as they read. These simple games give students opportunities to visually process information and sharpen their skills. These games develop vocabulary as students talk about what they are doing during the game playing process. They learn to focus and build their attention span.

By repurposing this Valentine heart, I created a sorting game. It requires some effort to create but young learners will have fun matching the objects to the correct colored spaces. Fine motor tip: The student can use tweezers, clothes pins, or tongs to grasp the object and strengthen their fine motor skills while playing the game or just use their fingers in a pincher grasp to pick up the objects. For more ideas to help students love learning and reinforce skills, PM me.

Warning: games with small parts absolutely require close supervision. When making games good adhesive will ensure that little fingers won’t be able to tear the game apart. Inquisitive minds want to pull the colored paper from the candy liner but with supervision and gentle instruction, they can learn to focus on the sorting rather than the tearing. Children teach us how to make the games indestructible as we observe them while they play.

Learning games encourage language development, strengthen vocabulary and build a bond between you and your child. Teachers know the importance of hands-on learning and often incorporate many games throughout the day to teach basic skills.

Special thanks to Bethlyn for giving me this heart!

Kindergarten student working with sight words

This video demonstrates a Kindergarten student practicing sight words in a meaningful context. Words from his sight word vocabulary have been written onto Post-It notes. The wall is the back drop for the sentences. I provided the student with a set of sticky notes that formed a sentence. The lesson teaches left to right orientation as the words are placed from left to right on the wall in a series. He uses critical thinking to consider the words provided and make a decision about the correct order that makes the most sense. He questions me about the order. He learns that by placing them in a meaningful order, he is reading. He manipulates the words and using trial and error reads and re-reads the words in different orders until he is satisfied with the outcome. Not on the video is our choral reading of the final sentence. This is an activity that parents can try at home without too much preparation. It is important to note that the student does his thinking out loud and the adult provides support. The lesson is student-driven. I give the student the notes needed to complete one sentence at a time. If I were to give him all of the sticky notes at once, it would be overwhelming. I have narrowed the margin of error by only giving him one set of notes at a time.