He Kēmu mō te Tamaiti (4+ Years)

It's important to continue to focus on developing your child's language skills once they go to school. Now is the time to increase their vocabulary by using words that will give them choices in how they explain things in Māori. 



An all-time favourite, and a really good way to help your child to learn to read and write.  To play, you will need a pen and paper.  It may also help to write up the Māori alphabet to keep track of letters that have been guessed.

Select a secret word and for every letter contained in that secret word, write a ‘dash' to represent the missing letter.   For example, you may choose hāora (oxygen) which would look like this:

" - - - - - ".

Your tamaiti selects a letter and if that letter is contained in the word, write it in the correct space. However, if the letter is not in the word, begin to draw a person ‘hanging' (charming! - feel free to agree on some other image if this one doesn't work for you and your whānau!).  The aim of the game is for the guesser to correctly spell out the word before being 'hung'.

HINT: to reinforce Māori spelling/reading, you could sound out each letter of the alphabet using Māori pronunciation, rather than using the English sounding alphabet.  For example, R would be the rolled "R", not "are" as you would say using the English alphabet.

He kupu āwhina:

  • Kua tuhia e au te wakapū Māori. I've written the Māori alphabet.

  • E rima ngā pū o tēnei kupu. There are five letters in this word.

  • Ka rawe kē tō tātaki kupu / Kino kē/Tau kē koe ki te tātaki kupu. You are awesome at spelling.

  • Kua tata tāronatia koe. You are nearly ‘hung'.

  • Kei te mārama koe ki tēnei kupu? Do you know the meaning of this word?

Papakupu Pikitia/Pictionary


You may already have played this game in English.  It's just as much fun in Māori!  You will need a pen and paper, and a timing device (or simply a clock to track time).  This game can be played in teams, or just between you and your child.

To play, think of a word and draw a picture, or series of pictures, that describes the word. You cannot write the word itself.  Your tamaiti has a minute to name your picture, or she loses.  Swap over, and now you do the guessing.



There are a couple of variations on this game:

  • I Spy with my little eye...To play, select an object in the room in which you are sitting. Kei te kite au i tētahi mea e tīmata ana ki te pū [letter] ....".  The guesser has up to 20 chances to name the object.

  • Headbands This game is a whole lot of fun and is particularly good for the whole whānau to play.  Select categories, for example: He Kararehe animals, He Tāngata Rongonui famous people, Te Taiao nature, He Wāhi places.  Have someone write down objects/names etc for each category on small pieces of card and attach blu-tack or sticky tape to each.  Without peeking, each person takes a card and attaches it to their forehead. Going around the room, each person then gets to ask a question to help them figure out what the word is that they are wearing. The first person to guess correctly, wins!

He kupu āwhina:

  • He hāpiapia/tēpa whakapiri tā tātou? Do we have any sellotape?

  • Meinga ō makawe ki muri o ō taringa kia kore ai e piri ki te hāpiapia. Tuck your hair behind your ears so that it doesn't get caught in the sellotape.

  • Ahakoa kāore pea koe i te mōhio, me ngana tonu koe. Even if you don't know, have a try.

  • E whakapae ana au he ..... au. I'm guessing I'm a  ....

  • Tērā pea ko [ingoa] au. Maybe I'm [person's name].