When people think of dice they naturally think of numbers and math. What is often exciting to discover is that certain dice can be used in other curriculum areas such as language and cultural.
In this post I’m going to offer some suggestions as to how the ABC or Alphabet die can be used to enhance the learning of initial sounds and word building. The mastery of initial sounds is dependent upon lots of repetition and practice and the ABC die offers the child a wide variety of ways to do just that. Once a child has been introduced to the sand paper letters and has a pretty good understanding of symbol and sound the ABC die can be introduced to offer the needed practice and repetition in ways that are fun and engaging.
One of the early exercises this die is used for is finding objects, either in a basket or in the environment at large, that begin with the sound that was rolled. For example, the child rolls the 30-sided ABC die and it lands with the “m” on the top. The child then searches the basket (or walks through the room) and picks the object that begins with “m”. An additional step to this would be to fetch an “m” from the moveable alphabet box or the sandpaper letters and place it at the top of the table or rug. Then the object can be placed under that letter. The activity goes on for as long as the child wishes, until 10 objects are found or until at least one object for each letter sound is found.
Another way to practice initial sound work with the ABC die is to simply roll the die and say a word that begins with the letter that lands on top. This is an appropriate activity for a small group of children that need practice with initial sound work. In addition to hearing the words other players come up with they are also being introduced to turn taking and group dynamics. Each child can roll and say a word or they can take turns rolling but with each roll, every child has to come up with a word. To take this to an even higher level, the ABC die can be paired with a numeral die such as the 1-3 die or the 0-5 die. Both dice are rolled simultaneously and then the child needs to say the given number of words that begin with the given sound…say 3 words that begin with “m”.
This versatile die can also be used in conjunction with word composition activities. Very similar to the oral activities mentioned above but now composition is involved, either with the movable alphabet or a pencil. So the die can be rolled 10 times and with each roll the given letter is pulled from the movable alphabet. Once 10 letters are drawn from the box (with the rule that 1 has to be a vowel) the child sets out to compose as many words as they can with the given letters.
Another writing exercise would be to write a word that begins with the rolled sound, or paired with a number die, write 3 words that begin with the sound.
To take any of these exercises to a more challenging level themes can be introduced. For instance, if the theme is animals then any word named or written would have to be animal related…3 animals that begin with “b”. This is a great exercise in classification and word retrieval.
As you can see, this particular die has so many applications. I’ve even had children use it in their handwriting practice. They roll the die and then practice the given letter. The addition of the ABC die provides the child with a game like experience, independence and above all, the needed repetition that will lead to mastery. Why not see how many different ways you can come up with to use the ABC die to enhance the language curriculum?