Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Leapfrog's My First Spelling Bee

My four year old loves this game.

I hadn't planned on giving her spelling instruction. I thought we would wait until 4th grade and start dictation. That's not what happened.

A few months ago, at Easter, my aunt gave us this game. My daughter, then three years old, immediately wanted to play it, because when you give a three year old a game, she's going to want to play it.

So, we started with the Level 1 cards.
The Level 1 cards are mostly CVC words (3 letter words that follow the consonant-vowel-consonant pattern). Bug. Rug. That sort of thing.

We soon moved on to Level 2. Below are pictures of some Level 2 cards...
As you can see, there are two kinds of spelling rules in this deck. There are words VCE words (words that end vowel-consonant-silent e, such as BAKE and CANE) and words that begin with blends (like the blend "SN" in SNAG, SNAP, and SNIP, or the blend "PL" in PLUG and PLUM).

There are 40 cards in each deck (and there is one deck for each of the 12 levels, so you get A LOT of cards).

I've taught my daughter to think out loud while she spells. I model this for her. When it's my turn, she reads me my card. (In the above photo, you can see that there is a word, followed by a sentence that uses the word. So, she gets reading practice without realizing it.)

DAUGHTER: Your word is snip. Tad will snip and glue the paper.

ME: Hmm. Snip? Okay. Well, I hear {sn} at the beginning, so S-N. And then I know I need a sticky letter*. {Sn}, /i/... I! S-N-I... And then I hear /p/. P! S-N-I-P, snip.

DAUGHTER: You're right! [She flips over the card and shows me I spelled my word correctly.] You win a coin!
 These are the coins...
...and coin holders.
She likes to be green. I get red.

There is also a sand timer, but we don't play with it.

While I have no qualms about beating her at Connect Four, Candyland, or Chutes and Ladders, I never let her lose at Spelling Bee. We always end in a tie. Mommy and Daughter always end with the same number of coins.

Like I said earlier, I've taught her to think out loud. This way, I can help her think through the word. I can say, "What two letters make that sound?" or "What sticky letter* do you hear?" or "What sound do you hear at the end?"

So, she always spells the word correctly, and she always earns a coin. It's not about making her feel good; it's about making her stick it out.

Speaking of sticking...

*Sticky letters are vowels. My daughter knows both of these terms, the silly/memorable one, and the correct one. Sticky letters is in a Leapfrog DVD. The song goes like this, "We're A-E-I-O-U. We're the vowels. We're the glue. We stick the words together. We're very sticky letters." During the song, each of the vowels gets covered in sticky stuff like bubble gum to help it be a sticky letter.



  1. I bought this game at a garage sale and it did not come with instructions I am looking all over online for the instructions and I cannot find them how do you play

    1. You just start with one of the levels and take turns spelling the words on the cards. If the player spells the word correctly, they get a coin. The player with the most coins wins. Or, you could play so that every player can win; you could play so that a full coin holder wins a treat, and everyone with a full coin holder gets the treat.