My four year old is in the pre-reading stage where he likes to ask how to spell words, and “what letter does (insert anything we are talking about) begin with?”
I came up with this alphabet ball game as a way to have some fun with his exploration of the alphabet.
We have now added “Alphabet Ball” into our mix of outdoor games, as a way to play with letters and sounds in a pressure-free atmosphere.
It is also a game for kids who love to throw, kick, chase after, or catch balls!
The rules to the alphabet ball game are simple.
- The adult calls out a letter, and the child responds with a word that begins with that letter.
- After the word is called, the adult tosses the ball to the child. The child catches the ball, and calls out a new letter.
- When the adult responds with an appropriate word, the child throws the ball back to the adult.
- To add a little more challenge: You can create a rule that the same word can not be repeated, or that you can not repeat a letter until all the letters have been used.
The more active you make the game, the more fun it is.
You can kick the ball to each other, do wild throws (I do this unintentionally sometimes), making your little one dive to catch the ball, or instead of throwing the ball when your child gives you the correct word, you can run after them to try to tag them with the ball.
The more giggles, the better.
That way, your child will be too happy playing to feel any stress about naming the right letters.
We have tried several variations of this game to continue the fun (and the learning):
- Rhyming Ball: Instead of a letter, we called out a word for the other person to rhyme before we throw the ball.
- Opposite Ball: Have the adult call out a word, and the child call out the opposite, and then throw the ball to the child.
- Next letter: This version is a little tricky for pre-readers, but it would work well with older kids who are more familiar with reading. The adult calls out a letter and the child then names a word that starts with the next letter. So when the adult calls out “B,” the child would call out “cat.” Honestly, this game can trip me up sometimes.
- ABC ball: Younger children who know the alphabet, but are not at the stage of sounding out letters can call out the next letter. So the adult would say “B” and the child would respond with “C”. I found this really works best when sticking close to the beginning of the alphabet, or if you repeat the alphabet with your child, pausing right before the letter they are supposed to name.
- Baby ball: Kids who are too young to know the alphabet still can have fun with this game, by having the adult do all the talking. Babies especially like rhyming, so the adult can call out rhyming words while rolling the ball back and forth with the baby. Crawlers are also very eager to chase after any loose balls and clap while enjoying the merriment!