One of the first steps of phonological awareness for young children is sound discrimination: recognizing sounds that are the same and different. One of the games we play in my class is a thumbs up, thumbs down game. I play two sounds and the children give two thumbs up if they are the same and two thumbs down if the sounds are different. Here are some variations on sound discrimination games you can play:
- Play two sounds on a toy xylophone (randomly play two notes the same or two different notes)
- Hide instruments behind a folding tri-board or hidden inside a box and play two instruments, or play the same one twice.
- Put different objects inside plastic Easter eggs or other containers and shake them to make different sounds.
- Sometimes I play a Jack Hartmann song called “Are the Sounds the Same?”
To change the activity up a little, I decided to use this iPad clipart I’ve had for a while. I knew my prekinders would love anything made with these pretend iPads. I made a “yes” iPad and a “no” iPad to use instead of thumbs up and thumbs down. I made a class set so that every child in my class would have the two iPads to use during large group time. The printable is below so you can have your own class set.
I printed these on cardstock, cut them, and laminated them. You could put the two back-to-back and have children flip the card accordingly. I chose to keep the two separate instead of back-to-back because it can get confusing when the children hold the cards in the air: they tend to turn it towards them so they see the correct answer, rather than turn the correct side to the teacher. If you want your iPad cards to be a little smaller, you can print 4 to a page and they will be smaller (find my printing directions here).
I also found several free apps on my iPad that play sounds. Since my class is doing a farm theme this month, I chose farm animal sounds. I can hit the buttons to play two farm animal sounds — they might be the same two and they might be two different ones. The children hold their “yes” or “no” iPad card up in the air. I can quickly check to see who understands and who doesn’t.
One of the apps I liked the most for the same/different sound game is called Free Animal Sounds (link goes to iTunes store). There are lots of different animals sounds to choose from and you can choose which animals you want on your “keyboard” (a screen of pictures you can touch to hear the animal sound). This one is free, but it does have ads at the bottom of the screen.
Two more apps I found:
Animal Sounds – Fun Toddler Game has a few free sounds with additional sounds you can purchase.
Animal Sounds for Toddlers and Kids has farm animals with other animals as an in-app purchase.
There are numerous sounds apps to be found just by doing a search, and many of them are free.
Extend the Activity
Once your prekinder kids know how to discriminate between animal sounds or sounds you make with musical instruments, you can then move on to sound discrimination with letter sounds. Say two letter sounds (/f/ and /f/ or maybe /w/ and /g/) and have children decide if they are the same or different. You could use thumbs up and thumbs down sometimes and use the yes/no iPads at other times.
Here’s a Challenge for You
If you think of other ways you could use these Yes/No iPad cards, come back here and write your ideas in the comments section below! If you have an education blog, feel free to link up your blog post with ideas to use them.
Special thanks to Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs for the iPad/tablet clipart!