At bedtime, my daughter and I sometimes play word or number games instead of reading. The other night, she suggested we play a variant of Pictionary, where one of us thinks of a word and tries to get the other to guess it by drawing it. She also suggested we make it harder by having the drawer keep her eyes closed. I jokingly responded, what if we have the guesser keep his eyes closed? That led us to invent a game where the guesser indeed keeps his or her eyes closed, and the drawer limits what they can draw — first we did single digit numbers. It was fascinating and tons of fun to learn to LISTEN to what each number sounds like when written in pencil. (Pencils make much better sounds than pens.) Numbers consistently vary by how many strokes and the cadence of how the strokes are combined — each has a personality. Since I cross my sevens, four and seven sound almost the same, but the final line in seven is crisper and shorter than the final line in four.

7-versus-4

We then had the nerve to guess which animal the other was drawing, limiting the options to a list of five. That was harder, but we learned to listen for a cat’s whiskers and a pig’s curly tail.

Here’s to being a better listener!