“I spy” is such a classic children’s game that it’s easy to overlook it. But don’t! And yes, you can play it even with children who are just beginning to speak.
Here are a few ways Veronika and I already play the game, at sixteen months old. First, I use pages of her Hello magazines as “I spy” prompts. “I spy a duck,” I might say simply, and ask her to point to the duck on the page. The magazine’s “Find It” page is particularly great for this activity.
It’s a nice way to reiterate vocabulary she already possesses. She sometimes signs the word proudly, or sometimes says it orally back. “I spy a fish!”
It’s also a great way to build on existing vocabulary, so I might instead say, “I spy something fast and red. The red car!” This is closer to the classic version you can play with older children (“I spy something red…”) and helps add colors, adjectives, and nouns into her repertoire.
Then we take the game along in the car. If she has an issue of Hello open on her lap, I’ll make a mental note of what’s on the page. As we drive, I can say, “I spy a tree.” She’ll look up with a smile when she spots it.
We also talk about what’s out the windows, though this can be harder for a toddler to grasp with so many items whizzing by. But big siblings will love jumping in on the game. Travis gave Veronika helpful clues like, “I spy an animal that’s furry and says woof,” just as we drove by a dog. What will she spy next? So many possibilities!