This online activity was designed for native Spanish speakers, but works well with Spanish language learners too.  The concept is simple – the player is given a set of pictures.  In the space below the pictures, she writes the first letter of each image in order to build words and discover a phrase. If the player cannot identify a picture, she can see a hint (the word) by passing the mouse over the picture. There is a white square for a space between words.

This game works with well with Spanish language learners for several reasons. First, most of the pictures are of common vocabulary – araña for a, niño for n, flores for f, gato for g.  There are a few words that might not be as familiar, sirena for s (with a picture of a mermaid), for example.  In that case, the player can see the word by passing the mouse over the picture.

This activity also works well with Spanish language learners because there is lots of repetition. The pictures for the letters are always the same. If a child does not know the word iglú the first time she see the picture of the igloo, and looks at the hint to see she needs the letter i, she will learn the word because it is used each time a phrase has the letter i.

The mysterious phrases that appear are very normal sentences, like He comprado fruta and Tengo las manos grandes. Although the sentences themselves are not unusual, kids love building them letter-by-letter.  When they have completed the phrase correctly, Muy bien appears and they can click on Nuevo ejercicio to get a new set of pictures.

Click on this link to play the online game to teach Spanish vocabulary and Spanish letter sounds. Then click on Iniciar juego.

As a child plays Descubrimos frases misteriosas, she becomes aware of the patterns Spanish.  Within a sentence, she will recognize when a word is going to be an article, or that after a form of haber, the next word will probably end -ado/-ido.  Discovering the structure of Spanish, in addition to the mystery phrase, is part of what makes this activity fun.

The one drawback to the game is that there is no audio. To get the most out of this activity, it is important to pronounce the words, stressing the connection between the initial sound and the letter that the child writes in the box. For example, “Uña – uña empieza con u” or  “bruja – bruja empieza con b.”

Some kids love codes. If your child enjoys decoding the sentences, this game can easily be extended to a hands-on activity. Most letters can be represented by many words. Together, agree on a set and draw simple pictograms to represent them. Your child will be writing in secret code in no time!

These are the words that are used to represent each letter in the game. The words appear above the images when you mouse over, so they are readily available as you play.  I include them here for teachers or parents who may want a list of the vocabulary to do other activities before or after Descubrimos frases misteriosas. The letters k, q, and w have not come up as my students played this game.

a – araña
b – bruja
c – castillo
d – delfín
e – estrella (de mar)
f – flores
g – gato
h – hombre
i – iglú
j – joya
l – lupa
m – moto
n – niño
ñ – ñu
o – oso
p – pez
r – rata
s – sirena
t – tambor
u – uña
v – vaca
x – xilófono
y – the game gives you this letter if you need it
z – zoo

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