Clothespin games are a great way to use materials you already have around the house to enhance learning. They serve multipurposes, too--to practice whatever skill you set out to have your child learn and to help to develop the small muscles in your child's fingers and hands.
The Learning Letter Sounds clothespin game practices sound-letter correspondence. If your child knows the letters of the alphabet by sight and can recognize the sounds that each letter makes, it's time to put those two skills together to help her make the connection between her visual knowledge and her auditory knowledge.
Keep in Mind: Kids can have a tough time using clothespins because they aren't always strong enough or have the muscle control needed to squeeze a clothespin and let it go slowly. The object of this game is to practice letter sounds-- the fine motor piece is a bonus. Help your child out if she needs it so frustration doesn't overshadow her enjoyment of the game.
What Your Child Will Learn (or Practice):
Your child will be working on sound-letter correspondence, phonemic awareness, and fine motor skills.
- 26 clothespins
- a permanent marker
- a paper plate
Preparing and Reviewing for Clothespin Games
Write one alphabet letter on each clothespin. If the permanent marker doesn't work, you can try using small scrapbook stickers instead. Use the letter case your child is most familiar with--uppercase or lowercase.
Once the clothespins are labelled, you can attach them around the edge of a paper plate to keep them all in one place. Putting the clothespins in alphabetical order around the plate is also a good way for your child to practice sequencing the alphabet.
The Beginning Letter Sounds Clothespin Game
- Go over the letters and the sounds they make with your child, helping her find the matching clothespin for each one.
- Divide the clothespins evenly. Give one half to your child and keep the other half. Decide where you'll be playing the game and then come up with a "home base" to return to when you're each finished.
- Explain to your child that you have to find something that begins with the letter on each of your clothespins and clip the clothespin to that object. (If you wish to combine learning and outdoor fun, you can challenge your child to find things outside that begin with the sounds of the letters on her clothespins.)
- The first player to clip all of her clothespins to items and make it to home base wins. You might also want to build in a rule to check each other's clothespins to make sure they're correct.
Play the Ending Sound Laundry Line Game
This games serves to keep your child occupied and learning while you're folding laundry. Give her the plate of clothespins and ask her to pay close attention, especially to the last sound in the word, as you name each item of laundry you fold. Then, ask her to attach the clothespin with the letter that matches the ending sound to each piece of clean laundry. For example, she would put the "F" pin on a scarf or the "S" pin on a pair of shorts.
The Vowel Sound Laundry Line Game
Hearing and identifying the middle letter sound in a word is tougher to do than the beginning or ending sounds, so this game takes a slightly different tactic. Instead of giving your child all of the clothespins, just give her the vowels.
Have her go through her drawers or closet, carefully enunciating the names of the items of clothing. Once she's able to identify the middle sound of one of them, she can attach the vowel she thinks she's hearing. For example, she would clip an "O" to her socks or an "A" to a pair of pants.