I Spy

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I Spy
Language - Language Foundation
Level Primary
Age 2.5
Prerequisites none
Materials a collection of objects on a mat
objects around the room

The purpose of this activity is to make children aware of the separate sounds (phonemes) that make up words.


Note: Do not use the letter names for these games. Use the sounds of the letters.

Beginning Sounds


This can be done with one or a few children. It can be a formal lesson that takes place at a table or a mat, or it can be done casually during the course of the daily activities (but of course, do not interrupt a child who is at work with another activity).

  1. For the child's introduction to the game, make the first clues as obvious as possible: "I spy some thing that starts with 'b' that you are holding in your hand."
    I Spy Intro.jpg
  2. Other ones to begin with are: "I spy something you are sitting on that starts with 'ch'," or "I spy someone who just came in the room whose name starts with 'j'."

With 2 or 3 Objects

  1. Step one
  2. Next step

With Several Objects

  1. Step one
  2. Next step

With Objects Around the Room

  1. Step one
  2. Next step

Ending Sounds

  1. Step one
  2. Next step

Middle Sounds

  1. Begin this step by going through the beginning and ending sounds as in the last step.
    I Spy Middle.JPG
  2. Next step

Points of Interest

Control of Error

This activity does not have any built-it control of error, it must be done with an adult or an older child.

Variations and Extensions

  • Once the child can do beginning and ending sounds, you could play the game using just ending sounds. One way to do this would be to use a collection of objects that all have the same beginning sound.
  • A version of the game could be played with objects that are not present: "I'm thinking of an animal that starts with 'b'."


The small objects used in this activity are also used in other language activities. It can be nice to have a large collection of these and then swap them out from time to time.
See the page on Miniature Objects for more information on putting together a collection of objects for this activity.

Make Your Own

See the Make Your Own section of the Miniature Objects page for information on how to make these objects.

Where to Buy

See the Where to Buy section of the Miniature Objects page