The Montessori I Spy Game with Phonograms Guide

Montessori education has long been recognized for its innovative and effective teaching methods, particularly when it comes to early literacy skills.

One such engaging and interactive activity that has gained popularity in Montessori classrooms is the I Spy game with phonograms.

This game not only fosters a love for learning but also helps children develop their phonemic awareness and language skills.

In this article, we will delve into the benefits of incorporating the I Spy game with phonograms into your child’s learning journey, and explore how it can contribute to their overall language development.

 the I Spy Game with Phonograms
Credit: Intentional Homeschooler

What is the I Spy Game With Phonograms?

The I Spy Game with Phonograms is a fun and educational activity that helps children develop their phonics skills.

It is designed to engage children in a game-like manner while teaching them about the different sounds that letters make when combined.

The game consists of a set of cards with various phonograms, which are combinations of letters that create specific sounds.

The child is given a card and then has to find objects in their environment that start with the same sound as the phonogram on the card.

For example, if the card has the phonogram “sh,” the child might look for objects like a shoe or a shell.

This game not only helps children recognize and pronounce different phonograms but also enhances their observation skills and vocabulary.

It is a hands-on and interactive way to make learning phonics enjoyable and memorable for young learners.

What are the Components of the I Spy Game With Phonograms?

The I Spy Game with Phonograms is made up of several components that enhance learning and engagement for children.

Let’s explore each of these components in detail:

Phonogram Cards:

These cards feature different phonograms, which are combinations of letters that make specific sounds.

Each card has a phonogram written on it, along with a corresponding image that represents a word containing that phonogram.

For example, the card for the phonogram “ee” might have a picture of a tree.

I Spy Mat:

The I Spy mat is a large, colorful mat that serves as the playing surface for the game.

It is divided into different sections, each representing a specific phonogram.

The mat provides a visual reference for children as they search for objects that contain the target phonogram.

Object Cards:

These cards feature images of objects that contain the target phonogram.

Each object card corresponds to a specific section on the I Spy mat.

For example, if the target phonogram is “ee,” the object cards might include pictures of a bee, a cheese, and a jeep.

Magnifying Glass:

The magnifying glass is an essential tool for the game.

It helps children focus on the details of the object cards and find the phonogram within each picture.

It also adds an element of excitement and exploration to the game, as children feel like detectives searching for hidden clues.

These components work together to create an engaging and educational experience that helps children develop phonemic awareness, visual discrimination skills, and vocabulary.

Presenting the I Spy Game With Phonograms

First things first, gather a set of phonogram cards that feature different phonograms such as “ch,” “ee,” or “sh”.

Lay them out on a mat or a table in a random order.

Next, invite the child to play the game with you.

Explain that the goal is to find objects around the room that start with or have the phonogram sound in them.

For example, if you have the “ch” card, the child can look for objects like a chair or a piece of chalk.

Encourage them to use their phonetic skills to sound out words and identify the phonogram sound.

As they find each object, have them bring it back to the mat and place it next to the corresponding phonogram card.

This game not only helps children practice phonetics but also promotes their observation skills and vocabulary development.

Benefits of the I Spy Game With Phonograms

Playing the I Spy Game with Phonograms is a highly beneficial educational tool for children.

It combines the Montessori method with the popular game of I Spy to help children learn and reinforce phonograms, which are the building blocks of reading and spelling.

This game engages children in a fun and interactive way, making learning enjoyable and effective.

Below are the different benefits of combining these two great activities:

Phonogram Recognition:

The game helps children recognize and memorize phonograms, which are combinations of letters that represent specific sounds in the English language.

By playing the I Spy game, children are exposed to various phonograms and learn to associate them with the corresponding sounds.

This helps improve their reading and spelling skills.

Vocabulary Expansion:

As children play the game, they encounter different objects and words that represent the phonograms they are learning.

This exposure to a wide range of vocabulary helps expand their word knowledge and understanding.

They also learn to associate the phonograms with real-life objects, making the learning experience more meaningful and practical.

Visual Discrimination:

It requires children to visually discriminate between different objects and find the ones that match the given phonogram.

This enhances their visual perception and attention to detail.

They learn to observe and analyze the visual characteristics of objects, which is a crucial skill for reading and writing.

Concentration and Focus:

The game encourages children to concentrate and focus on the task at hand.

They need to pay attention to the phonogram they are searching for and carefully scan the objects to find the correct match.

This helps improve their concentration skills and trains them to stay focused for extended periods of time, which is essential for academic success.

Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking:

The I Spy Game together with Phonograms requires children to think critically and solve problems.

They need to analyze the given phonogram, consider the visual characteristics of the objects, and make logical connections to find the correct match.

This enhances their problem-solving skills and fosters their ability to think creatively and analytically.

By making learning enjoyable and interactive, this game effectively supports children’s language and literacy development.

Including the I Spy Game With Phonograms into the Classroom


Materials Needed: Collect objects or pictures that represent various phonograms you want to focus on. For instance, if you’re focusing on the “sh” sound, you might include a picture or toy of a “ship” or “shoe”.

Setting Up: Place the objects or pictures on a tray or mat in a central location where all students can see them.


Gather the students in a circle around the tray or mat.

Briefly explain the rules of the “I Spy” game, emphasizing that they will be listening for the initial or medial sound of the word (the phonogram) you’re describing.

Playing the Game:

Start by saying, “I spy with my little eye something that has the sound…” and then pronounce the phonogram sound. For example, “I spy with my little eye something with the sound ‘sh’.”

Students take turns guessing which object or picture you’re referring to based on the phonogram sound.

Once a student correctly identifies the object or picture, they can be the next one to “spy” an item, or you can continue leading the game, depending on the age and familiarity of the students with the game.

Extension Activities:

Phonogram Sorting: After playing a few rounds, have students sort the objects or pictures based on their phonogram sounds. This reinforces their understanding of the sounds and how they relate to different objects or images.

Word Building: Provide students with Movable alphabets or letter tiles. After identifying an object or picture, they can attempt to build the word using the letters, focusing on the phonogram.

Reflection and Discussion:

After the game, discuss with the students about the different phonograms they heard and identified. Ask them if they can think of other words that have the same phonograms.

This reflection time helps solidify their understanding and gives them an opportunity to think of the phonograms in different contexts.

Regular Integration:

Make the “I Spy Game With Phonograms” a regular activity in your classroom.

Over time, introduce new phonograms and corresponding objects or pictures to expand their phonetic awareness.

Rotate the objects or pictures regularly to keep the game fresh and challenging.


Use the game as an informal assessment tool. Observe which phonograms students easily recognize and which ones they struggle with. This can guide your future phonics lessons and interventions.

Introducing Montessori I Spy Game With Phonograms into your Home

This activity not only helps children develop their phonemic awareness but also enhances their vocabulary and reading skills.

With a few simple steps, parents can seamlessly integrate the I Spy Game with Phonograms into their home:

Step 1: Gather the necessary materials

To get started, gather the materials needed for both the I Spy Game and Phonograms.

You will need a set of phonogram cards or flashcards, a small basket or container to hold the cards, and a magnifying glass.

You can easily find printable phonogram cards online or create your own by writing the phonograms on index cards.

Step 2: Create a designated space

Designate a specific area in your home where the activity will take place.

This can be a quiet corner in the living room, a cozy reading nook, or even a dedicated learning space.

Ensure that the area is well-lit and free from distractions to create an optimal learning environment for your child.

Step 3: Introduce the game

Sit down with your child and introduce the activity.

Explain that the game involves finding objects around the house that start with a specific phonogram sound.

Show them the phonogram cards and briefly explain the sound each phonogram represents.

Encourage your child to explore the cards and familiarize themselves with the different phonograms.

Step 4: Play the game

Now it’s time to play!

Choose a phonogram card and ask your child to find objects in the designated space that start with that sound.

For example, if the card shows the “ch” phonogram, your child can search for items like a chair, a chalkboard, or a toy car.

Give them the magnifying glass to make the game more exciting and encourage them to examine objects closely.

Step 5: Expand the learning

Once your child becomes comfortable with the game, you can expand the learning by incorporating additional activities.

For instance, you can create a phonogram scavenger hunt where your child searches for objects throughout the house.

You can also introduce writing and spelling exercises by asking your child to write down the words they find or spell them out loud.

This will further reinforce their phonogram knowledge and literacy skills.

By following these steps, parents can easily integrate the I Spy Game with Phonograms into their home and provide their children with a fun and effective learning experience.

Remember to make the game interactive and enjoyable, allowing your child to explore and discover at their own pace.

 the I Spy Game with Phonograms
Credit: CheriEbooks – Kids Learning


To summarize, the I Spy Game with Phonograms is an engaging and educational activity that promotes phonics skills in young learners.

By combining the popular game of I Spy with phonograms, children can have fun while developing their reading and spelling abilities.

So, if you are looking for a creative and effective way to enhance your child’s phonics skills, the Montessori I Spy Game with Phonograms is definitely worth a try!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How does the Montessori I Spy Game with Phonograms work?

The Montessori I Spy Game with Phonograms works by providing children with a set of picture cards that represent different phonograms.

Each picture card has a small cutout window that reveals part of the picture, which corresponds to the phonogram sound.

Children are encouraged to look through the window and identify the sound they hear.

Then, they search for the corresponding picture card that matches the sound they heard.

This game helps children develop their phonemic awareness by associating specific sounds with the corresponding phonograms.

It also encourages visual discrimination skills as children search for the correct picture card.

What age group is the Montessori I Spy Game with Phonograms suitable for?

The Montessori I Spy Game with Phonograms is suitable for children in the age range of 4 to 7 years old.

This is the age when children are typically developing their phonemic awareness and beginning to learn to read and spell.

The game is designed to be engaging and challenging enough for this age group, while still being accessible and enjoyable.

However, it is important to note that every child develops at their own pace, so it is always best to consider the individual child’s abilities and interests when determining if this game is suitable for them.

Can the Montessori I Spy Game with Phonograms be played independently?

Yes, the Montessori I Spy Game with Phonograms can be played independently by children.

The game is designed to be self-correcting, meaning that children can check their own answers by flipping over the picture cards to see if they have matched the correct phonogram sound.

This promotes independence and allows children to learn and explore at their own pace.

However, it is also beneficial for parents or educators to provide guidance and support when needed, especially for younger or less experienced children who may require additional assistance.

How can the I Spy Game with Phonograms be incorporated into a Montessori curriculum?

The Montessori I Spy Game with Phonograms can be easily incorporated into a Montessori curriculum by using it as a part of the language or literacy activities.

It aligns with the Montessori method’s emphasis on hands-on learning and encourages children to actively engage with the materials.

Educators can introduce the game during language lessons and provide opportunities for children to explore and practice phonograms independently or in small groups.

The self-correcting nature of the game also allows for independent work, which is a key aspect of the Montessori approach.

By incorporating this game into the curriculum, children can strengthen their phonemic awareness and develop important reading and spelling skills in a fun and interactive way.

Can the Montessori I Spy Game with Phonograms be used as a tool for children with learning difficulties?

Yes, the Montessori I Spy Game with Phonograms can be a beneficial tool for children with learning difficulties.

The hands-on nature of the game and the visual cues provided by the picture cards can help children with different learning styles and needs.

For children with dyslexia or other reading difficulties, this game can provide additional practice and reinforcement of phonemic awareness skills.

The self-correcting aspect of the game also allows children to work at their own pace and build confidence as they successfully match the phonograms with the corresponding pictures.

However, it is important to note that each child is unique, and it is always best to consult with a qualified professional to determine the most appropriate educational tools and strategies for individual children with learning difficulties.

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