Dolphin Tricks is a game that came with our A to Zoo theme from Mother Goose Time. With a few simple modifications, the game was a perfect fit for the learning needs of all three of my “big” kids (6, 5, and 3).
First, I’m going to share a few highlights of the A to Zoo pack including an invitation to create and a shape match game.
Click here to go to the Dolphin Trick Alphabet Game!
A to Zoo is one of our family’s favorite themes from Mother Goose Time. There is a centralized focus on reviewing the alphabet, but mathematics and other skills learned during the year (shapes, colors, character, etc.) are also exercised in creative projects, games, and community challenges! We already covered A, B, and C!
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Dolphin Collage – Creative Corner (Invitation to Create)
Folks, this invitation to create kept them happy and creating for almost half an hour! I had two cups of coffee! I highly recommend this one!
In this Invitation to Create, Mother Goose Time provided a sheet of perforated shapes, a water-blue piece of paper, some darker blue tissue paper, and an inspiration photo of a dolphin. I added some water color paints (always an easy hit), pencils, markers, and crayons. Then I got some coffee and got out of their way.
My kids have tons of practice with the open ended projects provided by Mother Goose Time and often need little encouragement, but if invitations to create are new or challenging for your family, there are several prompts and questions provided in the Teacher’s Guide to help get started and get the most out of the project!
I loved watching my kids in this invitation to create. Every one of them did such a good job.
- The preschooler was focused on gluing the shapes into a dolphin shape and heavily used the inspiration photo which I thought was awesome.
- My kindergartner focused on using the shapes as a guide to sketch and then paint a dolphin Mom and baby, which turned out really well!
- My pre-K kid created a picture within a picture artwork featuring dolphins and treasure!
Playful Dolphins – Match the Shapes Game
This game was simple and my 3 year old preschooler was able to play without any help from me. To set up the game I cut out the cards and then lined up all the labeled shapes to make them easy to see. I stacked the image cards underneath and told him to match the shapes. Then, I went and had more coffee! So much coffee today!
My pre-K kid thought this activity looked like a ton of fun after watching his younger brother complete the activity. This happens a lot with the older kids! So, I mixed up all the cards and had them sort them and tell me the name of the shape. Then they played “memory” with the cards using the matching shapes as a pair.
My kindergartner decided she could make her own images that would contain shapes, so she started creating her own card game using the shapes from this card game! I love how Mother Goose Time encourages learning and child-inspired play for all of my children.
Dolphin Tricks – An Early Learning Literacy Game
This was so much fun for my kids to play. With some very minor adjustments to the instructions provided I was able to encourage literacy development for kids ages 3 to 6.
- letter sticks*
- hula hoop
- large paper
*provided as part of A to Zoo from Mother Goose Time
- Set out hula hoops on the floor and arrange Letter Sticks inside.
- Tape a large sheet of paper on the wall or on the table. (We used the floor.)
- Encourage children to take turns tossing the beanbags onto the Letter Sticks.
- Identify which letters were covered by the beanbags.
- If desired, invite the child to write those letters on the paper. Continue taking turns.
- Did the child recognize 5-6 letters?
- Could he write the letters on the paper?
The kids love this game and it is so easy for me to prep. The only hardship we encounter is keeping the baby occupied so he doesn’t run off with all the letters on the floor. Needless to say he is typically confined to the highchair for the length of the game. Fortunately, watching his siblings laugh and run about as they complete this game serves as enough entertainment and coupled with a yummy snack serves to keep him content.
We put anywhere from 3 to 8 letters inside the hula hoop on the floor at one time. We have a little person’a hula hoop, so if you have a regular sized one you will likely be able to fit more letters. The letters need to be far apart enough that only one letter gets covered by a bean bag** at a time. In the rare event where more than one letter is partially covered by a beanbag, the player is given permission to pick either one of the letters.
**We bought our beanbags from Oriental Trading Company several years ago, but you can also find them at Amazon.
I put a large sheet of paper on the floor that lists the alphabet. I also tape it into place so it does not move. Since everyone is a different height, it’s easier for them work around each other on the floor, rather than hanging the paper on the wall. Sometimes this does mean that letters or words are written upside down in the heat of the game. I’m OK with this!
Age Differences in Play
Once they have thrown their beanbag and landed on a letter, they head to the sheet. With markers they make circles, letters, or words depending on their current skill level.
- Preschool level circles the letter.
- Pre-K level writes the letter.
- Kindergartner level writes a word starting with that letter.
This is just an example based on how we currently play and can easily be adjusted based on your kid’s unique needs. It does not need to be based on academic levels.
When we first start play the kids take turns throwing the beanbags and going to write their letter. I often help with letter identification and spelling words. There is no coffee drinking for me during this game, but if you’ve been counting I’ve already had three cups thanks to the other two activities. 😉
After a while the taking turns blurs into more continuous play as each kid moves from tossing beanbags and getting a letter to writing on the sheet. The constant moving and having something to do keeps the game fun for my early learners. If there is dissent in the ranks it’s always possible to slow the game back down and go back to taking turns. It’s rare I have to do this with this game, but it’s always an option!
If you are interested in reading more about our experience with Mother Goose Time, check out our curriculum page!
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As a blog ambassador for Mother Goose Time, I am happy to share preschool curriculum ideas, activities, and crafts with my readers. Mother Goose Time provides our family the opportunity to use their curriculum free of charge in exchange for honest and authentic stories based on our personal experience.