‘I spy’ is a game that encourages observation and strengthens problem-solving and communication skills. Whānau can play this with tamariki at home, in the car, in shops or playgrounds. Tamariki practice taking turns and actively listening.

Why do it?

We can play ‘I spy’ with tamariki so that they:

  • have a playful way of strengthening their thinking, problem-solving and language skills
  • enhance their observation skills
  • can practise taking turns.

How to do it

  • Make it easy to start with, so your tamaiti experiences success.
  • Try playing ‘I spy’ while sharing a picture book together, using objects shown in the pictures.
  • Instead of using the letters of the alphabet for clues, use shape, colour, size, texture, length, weight, speed, or what something is made of or used for.
  • In English the tradition is to say, ‘I spy with my little eye something that’s... [blue], [round], [furry].’ How would it be said in the language of your whānau?
  • Tamariki can have a guess or could ask questions to get extra help: ‘Is it in the car or outside?’ or, ‘What shape is it?’, ‘Is it red?’
  • If they guess it correctly they then have a turn to choose something of their own for you to guess. But if you think they’re struggling or getting bored, give them some more help.


Other ideas — Ētahi atu whakaaro

  • Change from ‘I spy’, to ‘I hear’, ‘I smell’ or ‘I’m thinking about’.
  • Use different clues such as, ‘I’m thinking about something / someone / somewhere that...’ For example, ‘I’m thinking of somewhere that there’s a fish pond.’
  • Rhyming words can be clues too: ‘I spy with my little eye something that rhymes with ‘mouse’, and it’s got doors.’
  • When your tamaiti is ready for a challenge, try using the ‘sound’ of the starting letter. For example, say something like, ‘I hear with my little ear something that starts with “d”’ (dog, digger, doorbell) or, ‘I smell with my little nose something that’s cooked in the earth’ (hāngī).

Using more reo Māori

Te reo Māori English
E kite ana ahau I I see
Kei te rongo ahau i... I hear
Kei te rongo ahau i te kakara o... I smell
Kei te whakaaro ahau mo... I am thinking about
Tētahi mea Something
Tētahi mea whero Something red