Verbal Games

How to Teach Pre-Reading and Early Math to an Auditory Learner

My four-year-old is an auditory learner, and I am not.  I frequently struggle with planning out a fun activity, only to have her show no interest whatsoever.  One thing that works really well, though, is playing verbal games during family meals or car rides.  These games are so simple; the key is just to try one out and drop it if she isn’t in the mood.

  • Rhyming
    You may already play this game with your little one.  I usually start by saying a few rhyming words, and she will chime in with more, and we both keep saying more words, like we’re trying to one-up each other.
  • What Starts With…?
    This is her favorite game.  I say, “Cup starts with C…car…cloud…” and she starts adding her own words, and we keep going until neither of us can think of any more words.
  • I’m thinking of something that starts with…
    There are many ways to play.  I usually say something like, “I’m thinking of something that starts with D.  It wags its tail when it’s happy.” Then after she guesses, it’s her turn to think of something to have me guess.
  • Visualizing
    She asked me how to spell a word while we were in the car, so I asked her to visualize each letter as I said it.  She would wait until she could “see” it in her head, then say, “I see it!”
  • Replacing Letters
    We’ve been working on -at, -an, and -ap words, so I’ve started asking her, “I have the word rat.  What if I change the r in rat to a b?” She will think for a bit and then answer, “Bat!”
  • What Letter (Or Number) Comes Next?
    I simply ask, “What’s the letter after B?” or “What number comes before 10?”  We’ve also started counting backwards from 10, and once she has that down, we’ll start counting by twos.
  • Foreign Language Vocabulary
    My main method for teaching her Russian is asking, “Do you remember how to say ____________ in Russian?” or “What does ___________ mean?”  It isn’t adequate to teach a foreign language, but it does help with beginning vocabulary.
  • Mental Addition
    I ask relevant questions using numbers, such as, “If we buy two books at Barnes and Noble and two books at the used bookstore, how many books do we buy?”
  • Mental Subtraction
    I found to my surprise that she could subtract numbers from five when I asked, “If you have five pretzels and you eat one, how many pretzels do you have left?”