If you know a pre-kindergarten child who loves dinosaurs (who doesn't?) - share this!
Let’s face it, not every child loves learning about letters. Not every child wants to recite the alphabet song, match letters, recognize letters, name them, or do whatever else we instruct them to do.
I wanted to teach my pre-kindergarten nephew how to look at a lower case alphabet letter, match it with the same shape, and then name the letter, all while playing a turn taking game.
But I had a problem. Playing with toy dinosaurs is arguably more fun than learning about letters. And my nephew loves dinosaurs. If I could just find an alphabet activity that included dinosaurs in it, I thought, my nephew would be ecstatic. He’d be acquiring essential pre-literacy skills all while playing with the prehistoric creatures he knows and loves!
I looked and looked (and looked) and couldn’t find anything. Not online, not in stores, nothing. I asked myself - why not just create my own? I developed a turn taking game that involved magnetic chips and a magnetic wand because from my experience, kids can’t get enough of magnets either.
As I was developing this idea, I wondered if there was such thing as an ‘alphabet dice’ and luckily there was.
I used his favourite colour (orange) and his favourite dinosaur (T-Rex) and designed a playmat that could display all the lowercase letters. I decided to design it with multiple colours and multiple dinosaurs to suit more people.
In this dinosaur game, the child has to roll the alphabet dice, then find the letter on the picture that matches it, place the chip on it, and then practice naming the letter (the child can also name the sound). The child can take turns with one person or a group of people.
Turn taking is an essential skill that I include in most of my therapy sessions. Children learn to take turns in play before they learn to take turns “talking” in conversation. Turn taking can also increase a child’s attention span and promote eye contact.
Once the board is finished or over a set period of time (e.g. after 10 minutes), the child can pick up all the magnetic chips with the wand - I call it the ‘magic wand’. I haven't met a child who doesn't love this part!
Now to the test. I was finally ready to try this activity with my nephew. When I told him we were playing a game with dinosaurs while we learned about letters he truly was ecstatic - “Can I have the T-Rex!? May I have the orange one?!”.
We sat together for over a half an hour and played all the letters, covering the entire alphabet. It’s one he will definitely go back to and play again and again. Fewf. Next up - a game with capital letters.
You can find the game mats here (click on image):
The full physical product will be available for shipping soon!