Yes, that old, forgotten game is the latest craze in our house. I wonder why and when this wonderful learning game was taken over by the flashy, electronic gadgets and games – even I had forgotten and abandoned it. But then our almost 5 year old discovered it and for days at length, she would play nothing else but “Name, Place, Animal, Thing”. She played it orally and in writing; at home and in the car; early morning and late night; at breakfast table and at dinner; with mom, dad, sisters and I suspect on her own too. She added the category “Food” to the game and it did become more exciting; for food you could mention any food (drink, raw or cooked) and you could use any language (Urdu, English or Arabic). At first she needed some help and teamed up with one of us, but even when she played singly, the opponents would help her out ‘secretly’ because we knew the immense value of the game and the sheer pleasure it was for her. Hanaa had to be the winner most of the time, as is the rule in our household for the youngest one – it’s a part of our confidence building program! She didn’t mind losing once she knew that she was playing fairly.
What great surprises came along – I can’t list them all here:
Phonics of course, vocabulary building for sure but more amazingly geography, map study, independent thinking, time management, math and spelling …. all with leisurely learning. She already had an interest in maps and flags due to her Magnetic Flags book, but now she started doing a Flags Sticker book which she LOVED. Grouped by continents, it has images for each country’s flag, with matching stickers in the middle and an index of all countries at the end. Hanaa did this book for hours and used the new country names for her game. Wanting to be unique, she started mentioning countries like Andorra, Djibouti (for a place with D, not J!), Gabon, Kiribati, Luxemburg, Palau, Togo and Kyrgystan!! Honestly we all were learning a lot with her 😀 She realised the difference between countries and cities and the Atlas was her next stop in the ‘place’ hunt!
For animals, we used a site http://a-z-animals.com/ to come up with difficult letters (like U, V, X) and she quickly memorised those she needed. She frequently mentioned animals that she knew from her study of different books or that which her sisters mentioned / used.
For names she always preferred names of the Prophets, then names of the Sahabah and then Muslim names. She took great pride in naming the Prophets, whose stories are her favourite. She also usually preferred a Muslim country.
She learned counting in tens and fives quickly for scoring up her attempts.
In the beginning her spellings were funny but as a rule, no unsolicited correction was offered. Within a couple pf weeks she improved immensely on spelling herself, and started writing some completely correct spellings.
To top it all, she started writing not one but many items with an alphabet in order to win the game by being unique.
To be honest, it started getting on my nerves and thankfully for the time being she seems to be shifting towards her other craze – biking!
How to play the game: (in case someone doesn’t know!) One player says “start” and the other starts reading the alphabet silently. When commanded to “stop”, he has to tell the letter he has reached. All players have to write a name, a place, an animal and a thing beginning with the chosen letter. The one who finishes the task first can start counting to 10, after which everyone has to stop writing. The players match their stuff, those with unique answers get 10 points fro each entry, any answer that is not unique among the players gets 5 points, and of course 0 if you don’t have any answer. Each attempt’s score is summed up and grand total is done in the end to find out the winner.