I’ve blogged about a couple of simple letter games combined with dancing before. Our more recent addition to it is to find the letter matching a sound, which I give, and of course we all dance in between. Kids learn to read here at the age of 7 at school, so there is no hurry to learn but our kids are both, again, very interested in letters, numbers and reading, so why not make a game of it?
Now my younger one, 3 years, has learnt capital letters so well that he plays with them and the older one, now 4,5 years, plays with small letters. They were quite thrilled when I happened to find a very similar game online for free: it is on www.lukimat.fi, the web-based service for learning difficulties in reading and mathematics, and it is called Ekapeli (“the first game”). It is quite cool, you move around in a maze and end up with various tasks. In the tasks you need to find the right letter for the sound you hear, and the better you do, the more the game advances. The game some how reads your level: you are supposed to always create your own character playing but ours play with the same one taking turns. Still, when the younger one comes on and struggles with the harder tasks, the tasks clearly get easier, and when the older one is quicker, they get more complexed. The younger one typically has tasks where he needs to find one letter matching a sound where as the older one gets short words or syllables and has to find the right one among several similar ones.
We have only tried the easiest version of Ekapeli in Finnish, because my kids are young. But reading and writing Finnish is very simple: every sound has one letter and every letter has one sound, they are always the same. It’s not like English or Swedish, where one sound can be spelled differently in different words. Therefore, when you know the sound and the letter in Finnish, you can read and write even when you wouldn’t understand the language. The most typical type of dyslexia in Finnish is, however, the inability to differentiate the phonetic, I suppose this is why this game has been developed.
Good news though, it also has a number of variations: one version helps maths skills along, in one you can become a more fluent reader and you can also download the Swedish version for Spel-Ett here, for free. There is a version in English too called the Graphogamebut unfortunately that one can’t be downloaded for free.