Sunday, August 12, 2012

Leaping Frogs Homemade Reading Game

I've been following the phonics reading method described in Teach Your Child to Read in Just 10 Minutes a Day by Sidney Ledson.  I was terrified to hear that schools now take the 'whole word' approach to reading - which is basically teaching kids to memorize sight words rather than decode words using letter sounds.  I know that when adults read, they don't sound out each word, but rather identify it from memory, but I'd rather give my kids the foundations to understand the mechanics of words.  I noticed that when I let the girls watch the Meet the Sight Words DVDs, they learned nearly 50 words very quickly and could soon 'read' sentences, but if they forgot a word (or came to a word they hadn't learned) they guessed what it was (with the guess usually not resembling the correct word at all), which means they were not really reading.  I'm very happy with the phonics approach we're doing now, and the girls (3 years old) are progressing marvelously.  Here's a game I made that followed Sidney Ledson's 'block game', or 'train game', but uses frogs instead...

To make this Leaping Frogs game, I used some frogs from a math folder game which I wasn't using (you could easily find clipart, as well), pasted some words on them, and laminated both sides.  I took some wooden blocks that the girls wouldn't miss from their large collection of building toys, and affixed velcro dots to both the blocks and the back of the frogs.

To play the game, I choose three words and attach them to the blocks (with the velcro).  Then I place them in a row at the edge of the table.  The goal of the game is for the frogs to 'leap frog' over each other until they reach the other edge of the table (and subsequently jump into the 'pond').  At each girl's turn, the girl takes the last frog and lets him jump over his companions to the front of the line.  Then she must sound out all three words, from left to right.  The next girl (or Mommy, or stuffed animal whose turn it is) then repeats the process.  We play until the frogs get to the pond, and then select three more words and start all over again (assuming L and E are eager to continue - L usually begs for more, but E usually doesn't last longer than one or two rounds).

So far this game has captured their attention and allows them to practice the same words over and over without getting bored.  I like the fact that the girls find enough reward in their own mastery of reading the words and getting the frogs to the pond, and I don't have to provide external incentives on each turn (Ledson recommends using food rewards to encourage young kids, but when I rewarded the girls with chocolate chips for reading, my Mom compared it to training apes, and I tend to agree).

When I was driving the kids to their gymnastics class, I was pointing out the words on the signs we passed.  I said "Look at that big sign, it says C-A-R.. I wonder what that is..", and L immediately responded "That's CAR!"  Then when it was time to go into her class, she said she was going to sit on the M-A-T.  I think I'll have some little readers on my hands pretty soon!.


  1. Good Job -- keep up the Phonics. When I was in grade school (a long time ago now) we were taught to spell and read using the 'whole word' approach and it did not work then and I cannot imagine is working now!


  2. Great game idea! Thank you for sharing :) (I pinned this for later!)


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