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Magnetic Letter Sorting
Purpose of the Game:
- To teach the child to look carefully at letters. When children do not know letter names, it is not usually because they can't "remember" the name of the letter. It is almost always that the child doesn't see any difference between the letters. They are just all squiggly lines to them. This game teaches them to look at letters and actually see the differences.
- Children will separate the letters and sort them according to their visual characteristics – straight lines, closed circles, hooks hanging down, etc.
- The purpose is NOT to name the letters. By really focusing on what the letters look like, the child will develop his/her ability to distinguish between the letters. This will allow him/her to learn the letter names through other experiences.
- The secret here is success! This should be a fun game where the child is always successful!! In order to increase their success, we try to only include the letters that the child is really familiar with (e.g. letters from their first name, letters they can name, etc.).
Playing the Game:
- Colorful, small, multicolored, plastic magnetic letters. You will need 3 or 4 copies of each letter. We use lower case letters, as those are mostly what we see in books.
- A large magnetic surface (24 inches wide or larger), such as a big white board or the side of a filing cabinet. This surface should be clear and uncluttered and upright. You can use a cookie sheet if you don't have anything larger.
- Arrange 10 to 15 magnetic letters on the white board, spread out and mixed up. You will usually have 3 or 4 copies of each letter (e.g. 3 m's, 4 x's, 3 o's, 4 p's).
- Say to the child, "I'm going to put all the ones that look the same together. Like this. Watch." Then you quickly slide the letters on the board until all of the m's are together, all the x's are together on another part of the board, etc.
- Now mix the letters up again and tell the child it's his/her turn. Encourage them to work quickly. Fast is better. While the child is working, try to stay quiet.
- After the child has sorted everything, say, "Let's check. Let's take a good look. Are all the letters pointed the right way?" Look carefully with the child and make sure all the letters are facing the right way. "Wow! You were really looking carefully!"
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