There are many games and learning exercises that can be done using dry erase boards, making them one of the most useful and versatile products that you can have in your educational tool kit. Kids love to write on them, and to rub them clean again too, and they’re a great place to stick reward stickers (either around the edges or on the back) to mark their achievements, rather than having them stuck all over your house or your car. Dry erase boards are also easy to transport without taking up much room, meaning they can be kept tucked away in a car, to be brought out whenever there’s the opportunity to have a little educational fun.
The boards I prefer are large (40cm by 40cm) square boards that come in a wide variety of colours, and they have a metal cover on them, meaning they’re magnetic too. This means that you can not only write on them, but you can also use them to stick magnetic letters on to play with. Parents in the UK can find an example of this type of board here, while parents in the US can find one here.
To show the versatility of dry erase boards for raising a happy genius, here’s eight ways that they can be used to help your child develop a number of key skills:
- Writing and Learning Letters: Dry erase boards are perfect for your child to practice their letter writing skills, and for you to write letters for them to identify (and for them to erase when they get it right). You can also write letters down for them to copy. Ages: Three and older.
- Learning Numbers and Basic Maths: These boards are also perfect for introducing your child to numbers and to basic maths. You can write individual numerals, or you can draw out groups of objects and ask your child to identify the numbers. You can also add to groups of objects, or rub objects out to introduce the concepts of addition and subtraction. Ages: Three and older.
- Playing Noughts And Crosses: This game, also know as Tic-Tac-Toe, is very simple, but kids find it fun to play, and it’s a great way to teach your child to think ahead when trying to solve problems. However, if you play this game with your child, remember to give them a chance to win on a regular basis, and when they first start playing it, help them see what strategies they can use to either win, or stop you from winning. Ages: Four and older.
- Hangman: Hangman is an old favourite with kids. Someone selects a word, and identifies how many letters it contains. The other player then has to guess letters they think might be in the word. If they’re right, then the letter is filled in, if they’re not, a body part is added to a stick figure hanging on a gallows. The idea is to successfully work out the word before the stick man is completed. Playing hangman is a great way of stretching their vocabulary and spelling abilities, especially if you play it with them. It also helps develop their problem-solving skills. Ages: Five and older. With younger children you can start with names rather than words, making it easier for them to play.
- What’s In A Name? This game involves drawing, but it’s a great way to help younger children develop the association between letters and words. Start by writing the initial letter of an object (usually it’s best to use an animal), and then leave blanks for the other letters in its name. Now, start drawing a picture of the object or animal (see photo above). Your child has to guess what the name of the animal is based on the initial letter, and your drawing. As soon as they get it right, you can stop drawing and move onto the next one. Don’t get put off if you don’t have particularly good art skills, just draw anything that looks vaguely like the animal you’re meant to be representing. Ages: Four and older.
- What Does It Look Like? This is another drawing-based game, but this time it will be your child who is doing the drawing. The idea here is to develop their knowledge of descriptive ‘wow’ words, such as big, small, spiny, sharp and so on. First you need to come up with a made up name for an imaginary animal. Next, tell you child the name and write it at the top of the board (or you can have older children write it out for themselves), and encourage them to ask ‘What does it look like?’ This is your cue to describe the imaginary animal using as many descriptive words as possible. For example, you might describe it as having a tiny head, a huge nose, fifteen feet, three long arms, twenty sharp spines, one rotten tooth, and so on. You can also add descriptions of what it might be wearing, like a tiny red hat or a pink feather boa. Start by describing the size/shape of the body, then get your child to draw it. Next move onto the head, the limbs, the facial features, and so on, with your child adding to their picture after each one. The importance here isn’t the quality of the drawing that your child produces, but rather that they understand and interpret correctly the descriptive words that you’ve used. Ages: Four and older.
- Bird, Dog, Pig Frog: This is a word-based game which can be played with magnetic letters, with post-it notes or just by drawing the letters on the dry erase board. To play it, you pick four related words and jumble up the letters. You then tell your child the four words and they have to correctly re-arrange the letters into them. You can find out more about this game here. Ages: Four and older.
- Spotting Games: Dry erase boards are perfect for keeping score during spotting games, such as What Colour Is That Car? or What Is That Vehicle? They can also be used to record letters seen on number plates, numerals seen on road signs and so on. Such spotting games are great for increasing your child’s observation skills and to encourage them to notice what it going on in the world around them. Ages: Four and older.
This is just a very small flavour of all the things you can use a dry erase board for when playing with and educating your child. Really, the only limit is your imagination, or indeed that of you child, and I’m always amazed at the variations or novel games that children themselves will come up with when presented with one of the boards. Of course, remember that along with the board itself, you’ll need suitable dry erase pens and something to wipe it clean with either during the game or after you’ve used it.
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About The Author: This post was written by Colin Drysdale, the creator of How To Raise A Happy Genius.
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