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Alphabet Toss

Kids 5 to 7

Indoor activity

Required: Thin cardboard or paper, drawing supplies, four to eight pennies, muffin tin, small items

We have a fool-proof one, and we call it the Alphabet Toss. The ingredients are: enough consonants and vowels to make dozens of words, a sprinkle of luck, and a generous supply of spelling skills. You'll also need four pennies and muffin tins of any size (the larger the cups, the easier the game, and the better-suited for younger kids).

Create alphabet "tiles" using small (approximately 1" x 1") squares of paper or thin cardboard and a pen or marker. You'll need enough combinations of commonly-used consonants and vowels so that you can insert at least one into each tin. Then use a piece of string or a feature of your floor to mark off a "starting" line.

Ask players, one at a time, to sit or stand behind the line and toss four to eight pennies into the muffin tin (alternatively, you can use a craft-paper grid). In this way, your kids collect letters until they have enough to spell at least one word. Players score one point for each letter they use in a word. You can also establish other rules for play. For example, players might pool their letters and use the letters everyone has collected to spell words. Or you might ask kids to use the letters only in the order in which they were collected, to spell words of only two letters or more, or the like. If older kids are playing, you might put more than three or more letters into each muffin tin, and ask kids to spell only words that contain all those letters, to increase the challenge.

Kids of all ages might earn extra points if they can use their words in sentences. You can set a time limit of, say, two minutes for each player. OK, did anyone spell the word "bellytimber" (an old word for a nourishing meal)?

by Steve and Ruth Bennett
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