Friday, 7 February 2014

Playing the Sound Game (I spy) with a 2-year-old

I haven't posted for 6 months, I am very sorry for anyone who awaited new posts! I have a good excuse for  my absence though, I have been busy doing my Montessori teaching practice! Not quite finished yet, but the end is getting close!

Now that Finn is 2, saying more words every day and still signing often, I thought it was time to start the Sound Game (as described in Muriel Dwyer's booklet about writing and reading), also called I spy (as in David Gettman's Basic Montessori).
The Sound Game is a pre-reading activity used to improve the child's auditory skills with the aim of preparing them for reading and writing. When the child has mastered all the stages of the Sound Game, they should be able to identify any sound in any word, therefore paving the way for their future literacy.
There are six stages of the Sound Game in the Gettman book, from being able to guess what word begins with a certain sound, to being able to analyse all parts of multi-syllabic words.
I have just started the first stage with Finn, and not only is he enjoying it but also doing really well!
Here's what I do.
I started by leaving gaps for him to fill while reading aloud his favourite books. A good one to start with is Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell as every page ends with the sentence "I sent him back". Finn really likes saying "back" when I leave a gap. I then increased the difficulty by leaving gaps in rhyming text, so not necessarily always the same word. Now, he can fill almost any gap in any of his well-known books.
One of our evening rituals is for me to lie next to him while he falls asleep. I stroke his cheek and say "I'm stroking your ch....." emphasizing the sound CH while leaving a gap for him to fill. I then go on to stroke his hair, saying "I'm stroking your h.....", kiss his h.... (hand), blow a raspberry on his t....(tummy), tickle his f.... (foot), etc and he fills in all the gaps.
During the day, maybe at breakfast, I may also say something like:"what do you use to eat your porridge and that begins with "s"? He will say "poon". Not being able to say all the sounds does not prevent him from being able to guess. If he couln't say "spoon", he could just point to it.
Here's another example: "what animal goes clippety clop and begins with h?" He can't say horse, but he can do the sign for horse, and he does.
Finn is trilingual, and sometimes he manages to give a correct answer in the wrong language. For example:
- "what fruit is round and begins with a?"
- "pomme!" (apple in French for those of you who forgot or never knew)
Gradually, I will give him less clues and give more focus to the sounds.
Try it with your child! They may well surprise you.


  1. Je n'y pensais plus mais on va essayer c'est certain!!

  2. Yay! How exciting that you're taking a Montessori course - congratulations! Also, thanks for sharing the sounds games you've been playing with Finn - I feel inspired to try something similar with Elise. Glad you're back! :)


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