Zoo-phonics and Simon Says

Who didn't play the follow-the-leader game, Simon Says, when they were a kid? It's been around a long time because it promotes two all-important skills: listening and following directions. Because it's such a simple game to teach and many kids already know how to play it, Simon Says works well with children as young as 4. I played it often with my pre-k class, especially when we were lining up to go inside after outdoor time. It was a fantastic way to calm the kids down and re-gain their focus.

I also played it with my sons when they were small. We played it at the doctor and dentist offices to make the time go faster as we waited for our appointment. It kept the boys busy and lowered their anxiety. We also played it at home before story-time so they were ready to listen when I read. It's easy to adapt Simon Says to teach Zoo-phonics. It's a fun, fast-moving game to play when you have some minutes to fill. You can play it with just one child or a large group and no materials are needed. Here's how to to do it:
  1. You're the leader. Stand facing the children. Instead of saying "Simon Says," say "Allie Alligator says."
  2. Give commands that let the children practice their Zoo-phonics skills: "Allie Alligator says get on the ground and slither like Sammy Snake...Allie Alligator says make the sound of Pee-Wee Penguin as you march in place...Allie Alligator says eat cheese like Missy Mouse and make her sound."
  3. The children should only follow the command if it begins with the magic words "Allie Alligator says." If you don't say those words, then the children should not do the action.
  4. Try to trick the children by talking fast, making them do one movement after another. Then slow it down again. Then speed it up. The children think this is hilarious.
****In Simon Says a child gets out when she does an activity without the leader saying the magic words. However, I found this disastrous with little kids. They'd get embarrassed and upset when they got eliminated. Some would even run away or cry. Your goal is to teach Zoo-phonics and have fun, not eliminate players to declare a winner. Let everyone play the entire time. If they do the action without hearing "Allie Alligator says," you may say "caught you" but keep it light and fun. Don't put them on the spot.

**If the children are old enough (5+), you can let them try acting as Allie Alligator. However, I wouldn't recommend it until they've seen you run the game many times and know how to lead.

Zoo-phonics opens up a whole new world of learning for you and your child. The first step is to find out about the 26 Zoo-phonics animals --  their signals and their sounds. Watching this DVD is the best way to do so. It's fun and fast-moving. You'll learn it in record time and have a blast.

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