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Fun Activities for Kids using I SPY Books and Games

written by: Lila S. Kallstrom • edited by: Wendy Finn • updated: 9/11/2012

These fun activities to use weekly in grades 2 through 4 can help students improve spelling, enjoy reading and enhance creativity. The I SPY books, games and centers can be used as a fun Friday activity, a welcome back activity, or for a year long reading and writing theme.

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    I Spy Games and Activities to Use in Spelling

    These fun activities for kids can be used for the first month of school or throughout the year and work well for grades 1 to 4. They help to get students back into reading and improve spelling with the added fun of using the I SPY books.

    Teachers should have several of the I SPY books in their classroom. Have students work in groups of 2 to start reading the words for what they must find on the pages of the books. They will ask what the word is if they don’t know. Their partner can help them or they can check with the teacher if not sure what the word or object is that they are searching for in the I SPY book. Teacher should ask them how to spell the word they are looking for. Some of the I SPY books have letters or words to find in them. This practice will improve spelling during the game.

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    I SPY Books

    I Spy Book
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    I SPY Activities in My Classroom

    After they have completed a few pages of fun, have the students put down the books and play an I SPY activity in your own classroom for getting to know the room. For example, on your list of things to find, have them find the exit for a fire drill, the word EXIT, the pencil sharpener, the recycled paper bin, the classroom rules, the word RULES, the reading corner or the bin of games for rainy days. Then be more specific in having the students find words on posters, numbers, certain pencils or specific books. The words on the weekly spelling list can be made from the words they have to spy in the classroom.

    Bulletin Board Idea

    On the outside classroom bulletin board, the display could be related to the I SPY theme by posting this main message: “I SPY IN MY CLASSROOM “. Then all the students' names or photos can be displayed in a random way on the bulletin board. Add pictures or other objects that are found in the I SPY books such as cards, stamps, buttons, paperclips, dice, dominoes, beads, etc.

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    I SPY Books

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    I SPY Centers

    Set up a center in a corner in your classroom to play I SPY using some of the trinkets found in the book. A table with cards, dominoes, beads, board game pieces, trains, skipping ropes, crayons, small animals, dinosaurs, tinker toys and buttons are examples of typical I SPY objects. Write a rhyming list of what objects you would like students to find or have the students create a checklist for the other students to use.

    You could set up your own theme similar to a page in the book if that will be a unit you are covering at the beginning of the school year. For example, jungle animals, birds, or ocean creatures could be used as themes. Use a dollhouse or wooden log set and set up a pioneer scene. You could also use natural materials such as flowers, leaves, rocks and twigs to create an I SPY scene. Have the students find 3 white flowers, for example. Use numbers in your lists of objects to find. Have the students list all the different leaf names or flower types that they find. It will only count if the flower name is spelled correctly. Keep a dictionary or computer nearby for students to quickly look up words they would like to learn how to spell.

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    I SPY Play Center

    After visiting a center, students could then create a story using the objects, animals or words they had to find. The creative story could be a fantasy about being shrunk and finding all the objects as a means of escape. The story could also be about one object from the center that they were not asked to find. Daily writing journals could be kept with each day being about a different object from the I SPY center.

    In a younger grade such as kindergarten or grade 1, another fun activity for kids is the dress-up corner. Turn this area into an I SPY activity center by putting all the hats, drama masks and dress-up clothes on a rack. Pin jewelry, beads and ribbons to the clothes to be found. Have the students check off a list of all the “blue" objects they find at the center. Move the clothes, hats, masks and pins the next day so that they can use the center over and over again.

    In other centers of a primary classroom such as a lego or math blocks corner, set up a display of the toys for the kids to search for. Search for similar colors of objects or similar shapes. The next day have them search for a new shape. Search the classroom for letters of the alphabet rather than entire words. For more alphabet "I Spy" activities, try the books referred to in the article Great Books for Toddlers: Alphabet Books.

    In older grades, have the students do an I SPY activity in the bookshelf or reading corner of the classroom or library. Find words on the titles of books, authors, catalogue numbers and publishers. Work with your librarian in creating new words, pictures and objects to find daily. Create contests for students who will find it fun to do these activities during indoor recesses.

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    I SPY Books

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    I SPY Online Games

    Students could go to a computer in the classroom and type a list of all the objects they have found. They can turn on the numbered list feature to count the objects or use the Tools menu and perform a word count on the words listed. Have them change the words to bold that rhyme or are spelled the same way. They can use the spell check to correct their spelling.

    Incorporate the computer into your I SPY activities by using an online I SPY activity as one of your centers. The website for online I SPY Games is at:http://www.scholastic.com/ispy/

    There is a section at the website for teachers and parents which describes many more activities to use in your class or home to help children read, spell, write, create and learn with the I SPY theme. The link for this section is http://www.scholastic.com/ispy/teacher/index.htm

    If students are familiar with digital cameras and are allowed to download pictures to your school computer, have students take pictures at home of an I SPY scene. Their bedroom dresser, a flower arrangement or a beach scene could be photographed to create I SPY riddles and word lists like in the books.

    If you have a SMARTboard in your classroom, create an I SPY scene from clipart pictures, photos or online scenes from the I SPY website. Have the students circle the object once it is found. Change the color of the words on the list once they have spotted the object. Students could also write the things they found on one page of the Smartboard notebook and keep a list of the same objects they find in every page of the I SPY books.

    Fun activities for kids in your classroom can be created using the I SPY books, bulletin boards, centers, and online games. These activities are easy ways to motivate your students to become improved spellers, readers and writers.