School is out for the summer (insert drum solo)! Halle-freaking-lujah! I am one of this weird mamas who LOVES summer break. I really should homeschool, but I know I have yet to achieve the patience level I would need for that. So instead I begrudgingly send my munchkins off to school to learn, get bullied and kiss boys…(All real life events that have happened to my Kindergartener, do you see why I hate school?) Well it is summer break and I am bound to keep all that good knowledge locked away in my munchkins mind so enter my Take-A-Minute-Tuesday! Find your Bananagrams game and get busy!
- Washable letter (scrabble, bananagrams, or other)
- Sensory Item (play dough, shaving cream, rice, dried beans, cooked noodles, etc)
- Container for sensory item (casserole dish or sensory table)
- Plastic Wrap (only needed for wet or messy sensory items, like shaving cream)
- Set up your worksheet. (directions for age at the end of post)
- Place plastic wrap over paper and tape it down (this step is for anyone using a messy or wet sensory item, like shaving cream)
- Set out casserole dish
- Fill with sensory item
- Hide letters
The basics? Call your sweetie in and tell them there is something hiding in the rice. As they find letters ask them what they found, if they are old enough. If they are too young you simply act excited and point out the letter and name it a few times. (repetition friends) If they are older have them match the letter to their worksheet.
For the beginning of the activity your child will be very interested in the SEEKING part of the fun. Don’t push anything else. Let them be interested in what they are interested in. Using their small motor muscles to find the letters is just as important as recognizing letters. If your children don’t have the finger strength to control a pencil, down the road, they won’t be able to write all the letters they are learning.
Once your child has found some letters, or their interest starts to wane, you can prompt them to match letters or even re-hide them. Prompting is always easily done with a question. What letter did you find? Do you see that letter on our paper? How fast can you hide those letters? A perfect prompting question will let the child lead, it will just give them a starting place.
Let your child spend time on what they are interested in. My children almost always end up ADDING to their worksheet. My oldest will make new words. My middle child will practice writing letters. She is not a proficient writer yet but these sessions are so important for building her confidence and strengthening her hand muscles. Even my baby gets in on the action.
If you used a messy sensory item check out THIS post for some great clean up tips.
Why I love Bananagrams Hide-And-Seek
Firstly this activity is so fantastic because you can use it over and over. Simply mix up the sensory item. We LOVE using shaving cream. The girls love hunting for the little tiles and then carefully cleaning them up to discover what letter they found. The next time we do the activity we might hide the letters in play dough. This adds a great strengthening concept to the game.
Another reason this activity is bananas….haha is how well it can be adjusted for different ages. I have a 1, 3 and 6 year old and they were all engaged with Bananagrams Hide-and-Seek for over 20 minutes. Basically I set up 1 activity and three different ages where completely happy with it! Mom win!
How to play Banangram Hide-and-Seek for specific ages:
For these NON-Readers you can simply encourage them to find the letters. They will strengthen their small motor muscles and also start to recognize print as you point out the letters on the tiles. It is always nice to have a small container for them to place their treasures in. I have found that a container with different compartments gives children a definitive goal. Using an empty egg container will encourage your child to find 12 different tiles, one for each spot. Many young children are motivated by a goal. After they have found tiles help them hide them again. Turning it into a game can keep the fun going. Hide one tile and ask playfully, “Uh-oh, where did it go? ” can make this more fun! My 1 year old thinks she is a big girl so I drew her a few squares to place her letters in. Hey, bonus if she can actually line up the little tile in the square!
This is toddler-preschool aged children. These kids should be encouraged to say the sounds or letter names associated with the letters. On your “worksheet” you may want to write out the alphabet. You could even write out words they might recognize, like their name, or mom and dad. This is a simple and age appropriate goal for this age. Encourage them to match the letters with letters or simple words. If they are interested model sounding out the words. If you are only focusing on the letters I recommend focusing on the SOUNDS the letters make. “R says rrrrr, rrrr” (side note, R does not say ruh, resist the urge to put an UH on the end of the letter sounds).
This is appropriate for some advanced preschoolers but definitely Kindergartners and on. For a child this age I would write simple CVC words (consonant-Vowel-Consant) or even words that follow the Bossy E word. You could focus on sight words like SAID or THE. As your child finds the letters you can encourage them to place them on their worksheet. As they make words model or encourage them to sound them out. I highly recommend using simple words that follow basic rules, like CVC words, or sight words your child is working on. This will make them feel successful.
We practiced reading the words. I love how you can move each letter around while sounding them out. It adds a physical aspect to reading that little people really need!
We hope you enjoyed Bananagrmas Hide-and-Seek as much as we do. Let us know what your favorite sensory item is for this activity!