Forcing a daily reading habit can make kids feel like grabbing a book is just another dreaded assignment; those constant reading reminders can instill not just an annoyed eye-roll…but a serious aversion to books and literature.
Start your child’s reading journey the right way by showing children that reading is enjoyable, rewarding, and an amazing journey into new worlds. Parents of young readers can use games to help kids learn to read and begin to embrace a love of words…and literacy. Ready to play and read, too? Here are six games to play at home, the store or even outdoors! Have fun!
Sight Word Scavenger Hunt
Grab your child’s list of sight words and take them on a sight word scavenger hunt. Head outdoors to find those words, or grab a book and encourage children to point out their sight words.
Play this game at the grocery store, too, and see just how many sight words your child can spot on boxes, cans, or ads!
For this game, you’ll need a dry erase board and several different hues of dry erase markers (black, green, pink, yellow or orange). You can buy these supplies at most discount stores. On the board, create a phrase that your child will have to solve. Use dashes to represent each letter of your word or phrase.
Your child will pick letters to try to solve the puzzle. For every letter your child guesses incorrectly, draw a part of a daisy. The first incorrect letter is the stem, the next a leaf, another leaf, the center face of the flower, then draw petals (you can draw up to six petals). Your child will have up to 10 incorrect guesses before the full flower is drawn and the game ends.
Have a Reading Race
On your mark, get set, READ! Teaching your child to read involves helping them read fluently and with ease. Have a reading race and set a timer for your child to read a specific passage or page. Clock their time and then have them read the passage again. See if they can beat their original race time!
Teaching on Purpose also recommends timed reading…but in a different form. Parents should set a timer for one minute, as this helps gauge ‘words per minute.’ When the time is up, identify what words are read correctly vs. words that a child might struggle to pronounce.
As reading fluency improves, the child should read the passage with ease and without stumbling. This method of gauging fluency was discussed by Roxanne F. Hudson, Holly B. Lane, and Paige C Pullen in an article for The Reading Teacher in May, 2005, and the authors referenced a 1979 article by S.J. Samuels for this timed reading technique.
Make Words Out of Words
For older kids, play a game that encourages them to create words from words. You’ll need a few supplies: felt (in several different colors) and letter stencils. Both of these crafty supplies should be available at your local discount or dollar store.
One piece of felt should be saved as your felt ‘board.’ Trace every letter of the alphabet onto your felt pieces and cut out each letter. To ensure that you have enough letters to make many different words, use three felt hues for each letter. If your felt pieces are big enough for two medium letter stencils, you will need about 40 pieces of felt (enough to make 78 letters…plus an extra for your board).
Use the felt letters to write a word on your board and let your child try to make other words by rearranging the letters. Have your child write down each word, then tally up the total! You can play this game with your child to see who can make the most words.
This game is a great way to let your child think creatively about letter patterns, sounds and spelling, too!
Play Board Games
Board games that focus on letters and words are a great way to encourage your child to develop their vocabulary and become better spellers! Other board games can be beneficial, too. Trivia-related board games require children to read clue cards to other players.
If you don’t have many games at home, you can find popular favorites at almost any retail store…or check out your local thrift store for a secondhand game.
Download Reading Games
If your kids just love their screens, download games that are fun and educational. You can find many reading games that help kids identify words and embrace the joy of reading. A quick search on your phone will bring up LOTS of options for these games and apps.
Use a Reading App
A reading app like Readability lets kids read on their favorite device and provides interactive and colorful books and stories to keep them engaged. An integrated AI tutor recognizes your child’s voice and guides them as they read, gently correcting mistakes and asking questions about the story to gauge understanding. Books and stories advance as a child becomes more proficient and fluent, so lessons are never too easy…or too difficult. Parents can track their child’s progress on the Parent Dashboard, which also gives insight about how long a child engaged with the app. Readability can be used almost anywhere and can be installed on most devices.
Ready to see if Readability is right for your child? Try it for free for seven days and start exploring all the reading adventures!