Emergent Learning: Game Targeting Early Letter Name Stage 
by Chase Young

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The following game is a description of a board game designed for students in the early letter name stage of literacy development as defined by Dr. Donald Bear (Laureate Education, 2001). The game will focus on necessary developmental phonics stills in order to enable a growth along the continuum. 

The materials needed for this game are a board and picture cards. The board will include a variety of consonants. The cards will have pictures of common objects in which students will be required to match the object with the initial consonant sound. Students take turns drawing cards, and matching the consonant with the picture. The student who makes it around the board first or the most number of times will be declared the winner. 

The game can easily be adapted to challenge the student as they progress in orthographic knowledge. The board will include random placement of vowels. The cards will depict objects with various short vowel sounds in CVC form (for example, cat). The game is played by students taking turns drawing the cards, and identifying the correct short vowel sound in the word depicted. 

The game promotes growth in the early letter name learner because of its focus on short vowel sounds. The student is able to determine beginning consonants, or the most salient sounds in words. The student may experiment with vowels, but normally associate them with the letter name. The game helps them identify, and forces the student to manipulate the vowel sounds in order to match the picture with the letter (Bear et al, 2004). 

This activity will could be adapted as the learner becomes more comfortable with short vowels to identifying phonograms. The vowels should be replaced with common word families, and pictures on the cards should reflect a word family sort. Orthographic knowledge of word families are commonly seen in middle to late letter name learners (Laureate Education, 2001).  Once again, the game is played by moving the student marker around the board. 

Identifying and planning for instruction based on students’ developmental stage, or working within students’ ZPD, is extremely effective when building on student knowledge therefore enabling student growth (Vygotsky, 1962). 


Bear, D. R., Invernizzi, M., & Templeton, S. (2004). Words their way: Word study for phonics, vocabulary, and spelling instruction (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall.

Laureate Education (Executive Producer). (2001). Strategies for literacy instruction, part 1 [Educational video]. Los Angeles: Author.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1962). Thought and Language. Cambridge, MA: MIT Pres

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