10 I Spy Activities to Make Academics Fun


Did anyone else ever play “I Spy” during long car rides when you were a child?  I am sure your family played the “Quiet Game” in the car!  You know the one I am talking about… the person who stayed quietest the longest would win!  No?  Just my family played that with me? That’s okay, I always lost anyway!  “I Spy”, now THAT’S a game I did well in!   

Just imagine a game of I Spy resources that are not only fun and engaging but also a quick and easy download and print option for you!  If you haven’t snagged our I Spy Phonics set yet, you and your students are missing out! Hands down our best-selling resource of all time, I Spy Phonics bundles have been flying off the digital shelves since they were launched. And to make it even sweeter, we just released an I Spy Math bundle

What Are Education to the Core’s – I Spy Resources?

“I Spy” rules are in full play. Whether students are looking for a specific fact answer in math or a word, these resources are FUN!  Do your students love the books in the library where they need to find words in the photo provided?  Guess what?!?  This resource is just that! 

Using a variety of mediums (i.e., pencils, colored pencils, markers, crayons, bingo daubers, and more), students need to find the image or number within the field.  However, students can’t just color in everything in the photo because not all the objects and numbers will be used!  Trust me, I have had students try that to rush through it.  You will want to watch these Tik Tok videos for some tips and tricks on how to use these I Spy resources in the classroom! 


I 🕵️‍♀️ Spy Phonics…only from ETTC! #teachersoftiktok #educationtothecore #iteachfirst

♬ original sound – Education to the Core


1 – I Spy Resources are Jam-Packed with FUN!

Let’s break these two amazing sets down for you. I Spy Phonics includes 84 print and go pages. The worksheets focus on individual phonics skills such as short vowel a or long vowel i CVCe words. There are also review skill pages (vowel teams or l blends) that you can use after introducing all of the phonics skills in that particular family. 

Math I Spy is brand NEW and we know you will love it as much as the phonics set. Starting out, this packet is smaller (40 pages), but we are definitely open to adding other math skills. If you have suggestions, send us an email at customersupport@educationtothecore.com.

I Spy Phonics

Phonics skills covered in this no prep bundle include:

  • Short Vowels
  • Long Vowels (CVCe)
  • Vowel Teams
  • Blends
  • 3-Letter Blends
  • Digraphs
  • Diphthongs
  • R-Controlled Vowels
  • Double Consonants
  • Silent Letters
  • Hard and Soft C & G

I Spy Math

In this packet, you will have worksheets for:

  • Number Recognition (1-10)
  • Addition (various sets up to 120)
  • Subtraction (various sets up to 120)
  • Balanced Equations
  • 2D & 3D Shapes
  • Place Value
  • Adding 10s
  • Subtracting 10s

How do I Spy Resources Make Academic Fun? 

2 – Whole Group Engagement

Use I Spy printables as an engaging activity to follow up any lesson. You can have students work on them independently (imagine the silence), or they can work in pairs checking each other’s work. These worksheets do take some time to complete, so they are also great for those times when your lesson didn’t take as long as you thought it would.

3 – Cancelled Events

Did your recess or special get canceled? No problem!!! Pass out an I Spy activity and your students will be set while you continue with your lesson planning and prep. 


I spy math is a game changer 😏 #teachersontiktok #teachersoftiktok #tiktokteacher

♬ I’M FEELING LUCKY – Ellen Once Again

4 – Small-Group Activities

As stated earlier, these I Spy worksheets take some time to complete. Your students have to read the word or solve the problem and then find the answer among the options. It is a great way for them to practice and strengthen visual discrimination skills. 

5 – Quiet Activities

Put these printables in a small group center basket with crayons, colored pencils, markers, or bingo daubers. Your students will quietly work the time away on the activity and put it in their folders to continue with tomorrow.

6 – Family Components 

I Spy printables are a great activity to send home too. Parents will appreciate having something quiet and engaging for their children to work on that is academic in nature. (Much better than playing video games.)

Whether families would like to use them on long car rides, at restaurants while waiting for food, or as quiet table work when they need some “down” time, these activities are as versatile at home as they are in your classroom! 

Activities for the Classroom  

Warm-up your lessons with these quick Math and Phonics videos, then follow up the whole group with I Spy worksheets as independent or center work.

7 – YouTube Phonics Videos

19 Phonics Videos Your Students Will Love

Phonics videos are great to use in a variety of settings!  I use phonics videos to get my students started in the morning, during indoor recesses, during brain breaks, during 5-minute time gaps, and of course in a reading block.  They are a great tool to get your students up and moving while learning phonics skills.  Here are some of our favorites covering many of the phonics skills our students have to learn. A great intro before providing some time for those I Spy resources!

YouTube Videos that Teach Phonics

Here are some more YouTube videos that are a great tool to get your students up and moving while learning phonics skills.  Here are some more of our favorite YouTube videos that teach Phonics skills our students have to learn.

8 – YouTube Math Videos

27 Math Videos for Primary Teachers

As was the case regarding our recommended phonics videos.  Math videos are great to use in a variety of settings too!  Whether you are using these videos during your morning meeting, during indoor recesses, during brain breaks, transitions, during 5-minute time gaps, and of course in math block. Here are some of our favorites covering many of the math skills our students have to learn.  All pair so well with our I Spy Resources!

Other ETTC Resources That Pairs Well With I Spy

Speaking of things that pair well with I Spy Resources, here are some great Education to the Core resources that you can create an entire lesson around.

9 – ELA Resources

One of the things I love most about our I Spy Resources is how well it pairs with any other phonics or math resource!  Introduce your targeted phonics skill using your Sound Wall.  Next, you can use some hands-on manipulatives (i.e., letter tiles) to spell some words with that phonics skill.  You can also use any of the following resources spread throughout your phonics lesson too!  Finally, check for understanding by allowing your students to complete an I Spy page.

10 – Math Resources

Similar to our phonics above, Math I Spy pairs so well with any of our Math resources!  Introduce your targeted math skill using your Math Warm-Up slides.  Next, practice the skill with an “I Do, We Do, You Do” approach on student whiteboards.  Slide some of the following resources in to mix the practice up!  Finally, check for understanding by allowing your students to complete an I Spy page.

These pages are also great for additional practice for those struggling students, but also provide an opportunity for enrichment.  While you are reteaching a small group the skill for students that require some repetition, allow your other students to work together with some I Spy pages!

I Spy Resources

Be sure to listen to our recent podcast on I Spy Resources as well!  Direct from Education to the Core’s podcast channel: Where the Primary Things Are!

Alright, be honest… how much are you LOVING these I Spy resources?  If you already use Phonics I Spy in your classroom, you will also love the Math ones too!  If you are new to both, be sure to grab them for your classroom!  Or better yet, grab a Premium Membership and you can just print off any page or skill you are looking for! 

Written By – Janessa Fletcher & Christopher Olson

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