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It's in the cards

A simple card came becomes a letter-learning extravaganza.

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By Valle Dwight

Your preschooler may not be able to deal out a round of poker, but she’s probably ready for a rousing game of Concentration. This “match the letter” version offers an educational twist — while kids build their memory muscles, they practice letter recognition too.

The project: Make and play a game of ABConcentration

Get ready: Create your cards

  • Get a pack of index cards.
  • Using a pen or pencil, write each letter of the alphabet on two of the cards (make sure the letters don’t show through the other side). Use all uppercase.

Make it happen: Build memorization skills letter by letter

  • Start with five pairs of letters — picking easier ones like your child’s initials, for instance.
  • Shuffle 10 matching cards, and lay them face-down on the table.
  • Turn over one card and then another until you find a match. If the cards do match, put them in your pile. Say the name of each letter as you uncover it. Or ask your child to identify it.
  • Now it’s your child’s turn. Have her pick a card and name the letter. If she doesn’t know it, tell her what it is (and give her an example of a word with that letter sound). Then ask her to turn over another card to find a match.
  • As your child gets more adept at the game, build to 10 letters, then 15, until you work your way through the whole alphabet.
  • For kids who have their letters down, make cards that illustrate the letter sound (a picture of a cow for "c," for example), and have your child find the card with the matching sound (candy cane, for example). If your artistic skills aren’t up to par, use pictures from a magazine or find them online.

Valle Dwight is a reporter, writer, and mother of two school-aged boys. She has written for many magazines, including FamilyFun, Wondertime, and Working Mother.

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