Ssh… Secret Words

Before preschool, G was eager to learn how to write, but within a couple of weeks at school, all his desire to write vanished. There was a clear culprit: those daily homework where he was asked to write letters over and over and over. Initially tracing them, then trying them out on his own. Did I say over and over and over? Five days a week? You know the exercise. Probably everyone practiced writing that way. To be honest, I didn’t mind them when I was young. I even won a Best Penmanship Award in 4th Grade, likely due to those practices.

But while repetition and practice are important in learning, boredom can kill enthusiasm. And that’s exactly what happened to G. So I had to device other ways to get him to practice writing, and this activity is one of them. In this, he gets a bit of phonics, a bit of writing, reading and even problem solving. Using various picture clues, he is tasked with deciphering the secret word by writing down the first letter of each picture clue.

How To Play:


Download, print and cut out the free printable ‘starts with’ picture cards. Optional: print the sample secret words. Here’s a quick snapshot of what these picture cards look like.

Starts With Picture Cards


  1. Based on your child’s level, form secret words with the picture cards based on these simple rules:
    • Use the first letter of the picture card as a letter that forms your secret word (e.g. the apple picture is A, the balloon is B, etc)
    • For letters with multiple sounds, use the correct picture when possible (e.g. C is for car and centipede. Use the centipede for the c in DICE and the car for CROWN)
  2. Instruct your child to decode the secret word by using the first letters of the pictures as clues.
  3. Assist him/ her in reading the clues deciphered.

And if you feel like adding a reward system (kisses, stickers, etc), do so!

Palette:     brown-32  green-32