What are word games?
Using games to teach reading
Games are an important tool for teaching reading skills to children of all ages. Children who are behind in reading or resisting help will benefit the most. These kids needs lots of extra practice but they have to enjoy the practice time or they’ll never stay with the task long enough to benefit from it. If a child misbehaves or loses focus due to frustration and boredom, the reading time is generally wasted.
What are the goals of word study?
- Improve decoding skills: the ability to break words down and sound them out.
- Increase sight vocabulary: a sight word is one that can be read automatically, on sight (within a second or less).
- Develop phonemic awareness: recognizing sounds and the letters that stand for them.
Six word study games (scroll down for game descriptions)
- Jumping Game (young children)
- Board Game (young children sight word practice)
- Timed Board Game (young children sight word practice)
- Scrambled Sentences (young children)
- Memory Game (all ages)
- Bingo (all ages)
Write words to be studied on sheets of paper. Set the words out on the floor so they are all facing the same way. Spread them apart with about a foot of space between words. Instructions: Call out a word. Your child repeats the word and runs or jumps to it. You can combine this with a tracing activity*. Collect the words and review them at the end. This game can also be played with phrases or with word parts.
Tracing activity: Your child will trace the word while saying the sounds in the word (or spelling the word aloud). Use a phonics phone during this part of the activity.
Set out cards on your picture; your child can help set out the words. Instructions: I will make a circle with my hand. I’m going to ask you to find a word in that circle. Find the word [say word]. Repeat the above procedure with all of the words. Review words at end of session.
Timed Board Game
Your child will say the word within 1-5 seconds. Time is gradually reduced until they can say the word in one second. This reduction in time happens over a period of days.
The adult should participate in the game and take a turn. Review words your child had trouble with at the end of the game.
Materials: a sheet of large paper or tag board, markers and a spinner (or dice).
- Trace or sketch a picture and color it. You can also cut one out of a magazine or scan a picture from a children’s book and paste it in the center of the game board.
- Words are written on cards. The cards are turned face down on path around the board. Use a spinner or dice to direct movement around board.
- When your child comes to a card, she turns it over and says it within a specified time. This can be 4 or 5 seconds to start and gradually reduced to a second or two. The adult keeps track of the time by tapping a finger or counting aloud. You can help your child by giving the initial sound.
Use cards from board game and set them out on a table in an irregular pattern. Say the sentence. Your child assembles the sentence and reads it. Start with a short sentence and gradually increase length. Several sentences can be created and reviewed at end of the activity.
Variation: Write words from a sentence on separate sheets of paper. Spread the cards out on the floor in an irregular pattern. Say a short sentence. Child walks from word to word in the order the words were said.
Variation: set words in front of child and say the sentence. Child slaps the words one at a time in the correct order.
Prepare two sets of word cards. Each word must be duplicated so it can be matched during memory game. Set out the words face down in rows of four. Words are turned over in pairs, and you try to make a match. Demonstrate as you explain.
If you have a pair then you keep the cards. If you can’t make a pair, then you turn the cards over, face down. Try to remember where the words are. The object is to collect as many cards as possible. If a child needs assistance, say the first sound of the word.
You can use an online bingo card generator, but it is often faster to make your own cards. Create a bingo card with nine sections. Write one word in each section. Use word cards from another game, or write the words on slips of paper. Select them one at a time. Place a penny on the word when the child reads it correctly. Play the game together until someone has bingo or until all words are covered.