Taz (my 1st grader) has no patience for worksheets. That's ok; I'm actually with him on that one! But some things only improve with drill, and the correct early formation of numerals and letters falls into that category.

What to do?

Why, make a game of it, of course!

Here's our **Numeral Writing Game:**

**Materials:**

- 1 die (ours is an electronic one from a board game, which adds to the fun)
- 1 30-60 sec hourglass timer (also pilfered from a board game)
- 1 sheet of primary writing paper, with at least 6 lines on it; 1 sample of each of the numberals 1-6 at the beginning of each line
- Pencil or marker

**Number of players:** One

**Object:** To write as many numerals as possible, correctly, during the time afforded by the timer

**How to play:** Give child a numbered paper, a writing instrument and a die. At the first roll of the die, the hourglass is turned over. The child writes the numeral shown on the die, and rolls again. This is repeated as many times as possible, until the timer runs out.

That's it! My son loves this game, and will play it several times in a row. He likes to see which numeral will "win" -- that is, whichever numeral is written the most times on his sheet. *Way* better than a worksheet! Plus he has the added benefit of practicing how quickly he can determine the number of dots on each face of the die *without* counting. Fun! This could be done with a deck of cards depicting abacus beads, signal dot stickers, tally marks or pictures of held-up fingers, as well, to increase the variety of numerals being practiced.

This game could also easily be adapted as an addition game (for the anti-flashcard crowd), using the die to determine the addends for each problem (or even rolling two dice for the same purpose), the goal being to complete as many addition problems as possible until the timer runs out. I think I would just have him write down the answer to each problem -- or even just make a tally mark to keep track of how many problems were completed -- while practicing adding the numbers mentally. Again, using cards instead of dice, or even re-labeling the dice with stickers to limit the addends, could help control which addition facts were being practiced.

And here's our **Letter Writing Game:**

**Materials:**

- Writing paper with a target practice letter written at the beginning of each line, and at least 6 spaces to fill in per letter (I made mine on an Excel spreadsheet, but a few simple lines or boxes drawn on a regular piece of primary writing paper will do), one sheet prepared for each player
- A die, with the dots covered over with a signal dot sticker, on which 6 target practice letters have been written
- A second, unaltered, die
- A writing tool of your choice for each player

**Number of players:** Two or three

**Object:** To be the first to completely fill the writing sheet with correctly-formed letters

**How to play:** Player one rolls both dice, to determine which letter he will write, and how many times. If the number rolled is higher than the number of letters left to be written, the player may choose to write only the number needed (for example, you already have 3 Ps written, but then you rolled a P and a 6. You can write 6 more Ps if you want, but you don't have to). If all the spaces for a given letter are full and you roll that letter, the player passes. Play continues until one player has completely filled his or her sheet.

**Variations:** You could practice both upper and lower case of any letter by adding a rule such as "even" numbers mean upper case and "odd" numbers mean lower case. You could increase the number of target letters covered in a single game by using a deck of homemade ABC cards instead of dice. You could even make a similar game using onsets and rimes (i.e., single consonants on one die, and *_at*, *_ad*, etc. on the other die) to practice both writing and early reading skills, too, filling up a preset number of spaces for words rather than letters. Whatever you and your child think of as *fun* will work!

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