Monday, February 7, 2011

DIY Learning Games in Less Than 10 Minutes

Heard at our house yesterday, "I want to play the Letter Game...the one with the yummy things!"

Candy Land is a great game to practice colors...and at our house it's also a pretty awesome game for practicing letters, sounds, and reading too.  This took about 10 minutes to do, you can undo it easily (or redo for a different skill), it was a big hit with Little Brother...and it makes Candy Land a bit more interesting for me too. 

We didn't used to have many kids' board games.  Then Firecracker got old enough to actually play them, and I realized how useful they can be for learning basic skills.  Now we've picked up several on sale or from thrift stores.  Of course some of the MOST important skills they teach is taking turns and getting along...but they can teach other things as well.

Here's what you need...Candy Land, some scotch tape, and a thin tip permanent marker (or other marker that will write on the tape.)

First, I covered the Candy Land path with tape.  I used short segments to get around the curves.

When I was done, it looked like this:

Then I put one letter on each space with the permanent marking pen, making sure to just write on the tape.  I wrote the lowercase letters because that's what children often need the most help with.  Instead of "q," I used "qu."
(When we taught Firecracker letters, we started with uppercase because we figured they were easier to distinguish...and she's turning out fine.  We've since learned, though, that it's better to practice their lowercase letters more, since you encounter them in reading so much more often than uppercase letters.)

Then we played Candy Land like normal, but we had to say the sound the letter makes when we landed on it.

Little Brother loves it!  Just the letters is almost to easy for Little Brother, though, so I think I'll take the tape off soon and add some sight words, like "the, and, that" as well as some short words for him to sound out.

Firecracker is not a huge fan of me modifying regular games for educational purposes...but she had fun with it in spite of herself.  For her we made it a bit more challenging...we had to think of a word that started with the letter we landed on. 
You could personalize the spaces as much as you want to...maybe focussing on tricky words in a unit your child is learning at school.
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  1. what an awesome idea!! love it!! my daugther is in kindergarten and we haven't played candy land in a while but i'm pulling it out today!! i think i even have 2 boards too because one of our games got wet while camping. thank you so much for sharing-i'm going to share this with her teacher too!

  2. I love this idea!!! Can't wait to try it!!!

  3. This is a great idea! Seems like Candy Land is always on sale somewhere. I will pick one up and try this next time I see it!

  4. What a great idea. I'm going to remember this for when my girls get a bit older. And thanks for the tip on teaching the lowercase letters more. I don't think we've worked on those at all, but it makes sense to put the focus there. Hmm, I think we'll start this week. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Such an awesome idea that is so simple, too. Wanted to let you know that I submitted it to the M&T Spotlight:

  6. Great idea Polly!

    So... does the tape come off pretty well then?

  7. How do you do it? You have so many fabulous ideas! This is great! What a great mom you are! Lucky kids!

  8. Great idea and I am your new follower from the Tots Hop- come and check out some of my family friendly activities at

  9. love this!! thanks for sharing such a great idea : )

  10. What a great idea!! I'm featuring this next week at KIS!

  11. What a neat idea - now I want to dig through our old games and see what I can redesign!

  12. This is such a great idea, thanks for sharing

  13. What a great idea! Thanks for sharing!
    Thanks for linking up to Making It With Allie! I can't wait to see what you have for next week!

  14. Wow. Love this! Grabbing tape now.

  15. This is such a great way to enhance the learning experience!!! Please come join us at the Project Party here:

  16. That is such a great idea!! So cute

  17. I featured this post on my blog today. You can find it here:

    You can grab a featured button from my side-bar if you'd like to post it on your site.

    Thanks for such a fun idea!!

    I'd also love for your to join my For the Kids Friday Link Party!!!
    :)rachel from

  18. I love easy learning games you can make at home using stuff you already have on hand! Thanks so much for sharing this! Very clever. :) I linked to you here

  19. Great idea! I have link back to your tutorial in my article over at:

  20. I love this idea! I am going to make it to use with the girl I teach 1:1. She has special needs so I am always looking for new ideas to review the same concepts.

    Did you alter the cards at all?

    Also can I follow you via email?

  21. I did the same thing but my game board was laminated so I just wrote on it with a wet erase marker. It works perfect and lets me change it quite simply! Yours could probably do the same...and then you wouldn't have to change all that tape!


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