Learning Game: ABC Nails

One of the hardest things I’ve encountered as a teacher is getting kids to practice their letters and spelling. Most of us remember spending hours and hours writing out uppercase and lowercase letters and hundreds of spelling tests when we were kids. The good news is we also remember how boring that was and don’t want to inflict that on our little homeschoolers. The ABC Nails Learning Game is a novel way to break out of standard pencil and paper learning and practice fine motor skills as an added bonus.

What You’ll Need:

  • Piece of Wood (2×4 or 2×6 cut to about 12 inches)
  • Drill
  • Roofing Nails
  • Hammer
  • Sharpie
  • List of vocabulary words or current book being read

How to Play ABC Nails

ABC Nails has a couple variations depending on your child’s reading and spelling proficiency. The initial level starts with letter recognition and the more advanced version can be treated like a fun spelling test. Of course, you’ll want to make sure your child can be trusted with a hammer and nails, regardless of their spelling abilities.

For each version of ABC Nails, you’ll want to use your drill to make some pilot holes in your wood plank. This will help your child manage spacing of their nails and avoid smashing their fingers because of a slipping nail. The next steps will vary based on your child’s skill level, as explained below.

ABC Nails Letter Recognition

This version will be focused only on having your child recognize their uppercase and lowercase letters.

  1. On your wood plank, use your sharpie to write the alphabet in uppercase and lowercase letters with one letter above each pilot hole you drilled earlier.
  2. Write the alphabet in uppercase and lowercase letters with one letter on the head of each roofing nail.
  3. Have your child match the letters on the plank to the letters on the nail and hammer them into the pilot holes! A good challenge is to have them match capital letters on the nails to lowercase letters written on the plank.

ABC Nails Spelling

This version will skip any writing on the wood plank and challenge your child to spell with the nails.

  1. Identify a list of vocabulary/spelling words you would like your child to work on. For early spellers, this can be something like their name or beginning level sight words.
  2. Write the needed letters on the heads of the roofing nails. This can be all uppercase, all lowercase, or a mixture of both, depending on what you want to work on. You’ll want to have more than one of common letters like the Wheel of Fortune “R,S,T,L,N,E”.
  3. Give your child each word to spell and have them hammer the nails into the pilot holes.
ABC Nail Game
Patrick demonstrates excellent Kindergarten spelling with a surprising lack of bloodshed.

Wrapping Up

Kids are always eager to play the ABC Nails Learning Game when they get the chance. After all most parents don’t let their children use a hammer and nails very often. Practicing spelling and learning letters doesn’t have to be such a dull struggle.

I regularly post learning games for both reading and math. Sign up for my newsletter and the new games, plus a bunch of other teaching concepts and helpful tools, will be sent straight to your inbox when they’re posted. As a thank you, I’ll send you my free state-by-state homeschool guide!

Let me know how your lessons are going on social media. I’d love to hear the ways you make reading and spelling lessons more fun!

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