Lotto games are perfect for teaching recognition of images, numbers, words and feelings to preschool students. Lotto games are played just like bingo, but the cards show pictures instead of numbers and the students can use pennies, dried beans or buttons as their markers. The games can be played as often as you like, while changing the theme to coincide with the seasons, curriculum or special occasions. Prizes are optional, but they are a nice reward for playing these enriching and fun games.
One very common lotto game is played exactly like bingo, but with pictures on the cards in place of numbers. There are many examples of these cards available online to print. Otherwise, you may want to make a selection of about 30 illustrations printed in 2-by-2-inch squares. Try to find pictures from storybooks that students enjoy or based on themes that you have talked about in class. Students can then make their own cards by choosing 16 different images and pasting them neatly into rows of 4 by 4. To play any of the games that follow, remember that each student has one playing board and some pennies or buttons to cover the squares as you call out the pictures.
Numbers and Counting
To teach preschoolers to recognize numbers, fill each box on the lotto cards with numbers, 1 through 16 or 1 through 25. Whether the cards are generated by computer or students make their own, the numbers should be big, simple and legible. Another option is to focus on counting by filling each square on the boards with combinations of items -- three bananas, six ants, one tree. Or each square could have one ladybug with different numbers of spots on each.
Shapes and Colors
To teach both shapes and colors, use a combination of both on the squares of the card. To get students involved, print out the cards with just shapes in each square and allow students some time to color the shapes. Stick to primary colors for simplicity. To be clear, there can be more than one of the same shape on the board, but each one must be a different color.
Advanced Lotto Cards
Classes that have regular lotto game sessions should be able to move on to more advanced games later in the year. Combine each image that was used throughout the year and generate cards that are one extra row larger, horizontally and vertically. Use each image at least once throughout the cards. Combine all of the decks of flashcards or plastic balls that have been used to call out the bingo items. The game can also be modified to require students to complete different winning formations on their board. Examples can include two complete rows, all four corners, the entire outside box or a corner-to-corner "X" to win.
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