Reading Games: The Perfect Way to Build Reading Skills

It is hard to beat this enthusiasm in a learning environment.

Two kids playing the reading game Bingo to bolster their reading skills. One child has this hands up in the air as the clear winner of the game.
Playing Zingo

No question, learning to read is a complicated process which involves many different learning opportunities. Reading games provide a fun way to practice the reading skills that have been taught. Some games feature practice for specific skills such as phonics or alphabet games, while in others, the gameplay demands that the participants understand what has been written, to play the game. In this relaxed environment, your son or daughter is likely to ask for assistance when the understanding is clouded or for help with decoding or understanding unknown words. And in the spirit of the game, he or she will receive this necessary quick mini-lesson by the other game players.

Playing the Game is the Focus

But even more important, reading games for kids also are a huge motivator for any reluctant readers. Since they have a deep desire to play the game, they will willingly read the text. It is also interesting that the motivation to play board games can be quite strong, due to the social environment. “In a study of young reluctant readers, an interesting preference was discovered. Students were more engaged and voiced a preference for the sight word card and board games over the tablet sight word apps. ” The social environment was a more significant motivator, even when each student had their own tablet from the Effects of Educational Games on Sight Word Reading Achievement and Student Motivation: Journal of Language and Literacy Education


What Can You Learn from Reading Games?

Each game has a different learning opportunity. Since there are many different types, you can select which kind of game you need to bolster different skills.

Essential Beginning Concepts:

There are games for letter and sound recognition. These are very suitable prereading activities. Sometimes play is at the heart of these games.

Alphabet Games

Melissa and Doug ABC Picture Boards: While this isn’t strictly a game, it is an activity that is game-like. You are locating the capital and small letters of the alphabet to go with the images.

For children just starting out on their journey learning the letters, select only a few of the puzzle pieces to complete at first. You can turn the puzzle activity into a game to see if they can beat the clock or egg timer to complete all of the puzzles.

Phonics Games

Zingo: This game operates like BINGO but it highlights individual letters in the context of a word.

There is a family of Zingo games that focus on individual letters to sight words. The games are easy enough to play that kids from ages 4 to 6 can play by themselves once they understand the operation and rules of the game.

Easy-to-Read Words: is a matching game where you need to sound out the word to solve the puzzle. For reading, it is much more important to understand the sound of each letter than just identifying the individual letters. Included in the kit are 4 pages of teaching suggestions.

In this game box are 250 self-checking puzzles. Your child will know instantly that they are right. You can use the activity in many different game-like environments. For beginning readers, reduce the number of puzzle pieces that they need to match.

Reading Games for Understanding (Comprehension)

Many children can read every word in a passage, but they do not understand what they have read. To play a game, it is essential that you understand every word that is written. Often in a game, the text is written in a way to hide the true meaning. After all, the mystery of the game lies in understanding the clues. Due to this fact, game players are continually stretching their interpretation strategies or skills in manipulating vocabulary.

Pirate Treasure: Right on the box is the reading skill that the game is all about: Context Clues. The reading level is targetted for 7 to 8 years old.

Read the card out loud and select the right answer from a choice of 3 possible answers. Since there are only 3 choices, there is a high probability of selecting the correct answer. Move along the board heading for the treasure.

Silly Sentences: In this game, since the object is to be silly, most kids are highly engaged as there are no wrong answers, and the more ridiculous the sentence, the more everyone will laugh.

Yet this game depends on understanding sophisticated grammatical concepts. The difficulty level is targeted at 4 to 7 years old. Picture clues for harder words aid with the comprehension.

Electronic Reading Games

There are many websites and apps that address reading skills. Some kids are captivated by the technology and are therefore willing to spend hours with their tablets. Others are more motivated by the social environment of a board or card game.

Reading Games for Ages and Stages

It is important to match what you want to achieve with the ability of your kids. The games start with alphabet games as well as building phonics skills and then expand into reading skills for comprehension.

Age 4 to 5

Happy Hats: This game reviews 3 letter words, but it also coordinates with the series of the early reader Bob books. These books have a controlled vocabulary that reviews a small number of words in the context of a story, instead of learning the essential words in a boring manner.

With this game you can create 160 words. Match the beginning of a word with a suitable ending to collect a hat. When you reach the end of the board, the player with the most hats win.

You play the game, and then you can read the book with much more success.

Montessori Phonics Blocks: The letters on the cubes that are organized into the blue for consonants and red for vowels. Put three together to make words. Change one of the letters to make a different word.

These are great to practice word families. You might not consider them to be a game, but they are manipulatives to build sounding out skills. Some parents find them to be somewhat small for young children to use; others like that they are small and easily transported to different environments.

Wooden Montessori Blocks: These are the original type of letter blocks. Not all of the letter combinations make a real word but most do.

This set of blocks comes with a book to read that includes many of the words from the blocks. It is an easy to read book, just at the right level for a beginning reader.

Kidwords: These magnetic words are not technically a game. But they are great for leaving a message on your fridge. Your child does not have to struggle with writing the words. He or she just needs to recognize the words to make sense.

Introduce punctuation along the way as it comes up. Start with a period and then introduce questions. The words are also great for sight word review.

This set has 200 words and punctuation as well. All the words are coded for grammar, which is green for nouns, red for verbs, and blue for adjectives. For young children, select a small number of words to begin and add words as your child learns more sight vocabulary. A great starting point might be – I like _ and then have your child fill in green words (nouns). Expand on the idea by extending the sentence to ” I will ____ .”

Word Racer: Once your child knows a number of words, he or she can try to fill in the blanks with the correct word.

Each player needs to select the right word to make a sentence. When they are correct, they can make a move on the game board. There are also words on the game board to learn as well.

Easy-to-Read Words: is a matching game where you need to sound out the word to solve the puzzle. For reading, it is much more important to understand the sound of each letter than just identifying the letter. Included in the kit are 4 pages of teaching suggestions.

In this game box are 250 self-checking puzzles. Your child will know instantly that they are right. You can use the activity in many different game-like environments. For beginning readers, reduce the number of puzzle pieces that they need to match.

Age 5 to 8

The Reading Game: This is a motivating way to learn those hard to remember but key early words (180 from the Dolch list). It mixes practice with reading stories.

The reading Games is an award winning game. First of all, learn the words through the game. Then read the associated stories. This is very highly motivating for reluctant readers.

Silly Sentences: In this game, since the object is to be silly, most kids are highly engaged as there are no wrong answers, and the more ridiculous the sentence, the more everyone will laugh.

Yet this game depends on understanding sophisticated grammatical concepts. The difficulty level is targeted at 4 to 7 years old. Picture clues for harder words aid with the comprehension.

Shipwrecked: This game focuses on drawing conclusions, which is a strategy for comprehension. At various points in the board game, the player must select a story card.

After reading the card out loud the player must select the correct answer to keep the story card as a point in the game. The reading out loud encourages fluency with the other players assisting with any corrections. Selecting the correct answer indicates comprehension in drawing conclusions.

School Days: Inferencing is a very high-level skill of comprehension. Not only do you need to understand what you have read, but you need to comprehend the facts of the case to make conclusions about what you have read.

Depending on which level of game you select, this is perfect for kids from 7 to 12 years of age. Kids read a card out loud and then select the correct answer. The questions are not based on fact (or recall) but are worded to practice inferencing. The game format allows kids to have a break from being in the spotlight, but they will also hear how their friends or family answer.

Kidwords: These magnetic words are not technically a game. But they are great for leaving a message on your fridge. The set includes 208 words. Your child does not have to struggle with writing the words. He or she just needs to recognize the words to make sense. All the words are coded for grammar. For example, green are nouns, red are verbs, blue are adjectives. Select a small number to begin and add words as your child knows more sight vocabulary.

Introduce punctuation along the way as it comes up. Start with a period and then introduce questions. The words are also great for sight word review.

Fact or Fiction: Read the card and then decide is that a fact or is it fiction?

The colourful game board is motivating. As you move along the path you need to read your card carefully to be successful.

Word Family Dice. Although these blocks do not come with instructions, it is easy to make up games with the dice. Roll them to make words or sound out the silly nonsense words you create for fun.

You can even extend the game to make up definitions for the silly words. Or use these dice to make up your word for the day to include in different word activities, such as spell the word, use it in a sentence or draw a picture of the word.

Miss Bernard is A Wild Card: Make up a silly sentence with rhyming words to teachers’ names.

The focus is building sentences that include many words. After 3 rounds of the game whoever has the most points wins the game. So pile up the weird details about the teachers in the game, such as “Mr. Doctor is off his rocker and dances like a bearded squirrel.”

Age 9 to 11

Wit’s End: This Junior edition is for ages 8 to 12. There are two levels of cards: one set for 8 to 10 and one set for 10 to 12. Reading the clues carefully is a must in this game. There are 4 categories: Teaser, Odd One Out, Sequence, and Wild Card.

You can elect to use the game board or just the cards to play the game. It is a lot of fun to play as a team so that they players have a discussion about the answer. This provides opportunities for kids to get a deeper understanding of how to think about the clues in the game through role modeling.

Play on Words: Much of the fun of the game is in the rules. You can steal other people’s words for your own points. In this game, you make words with the cards you have or any cards that are face-up on the board. It is an award-winning game.

When you play the game you will expand your vocabulary. It is great game to play as a team as the discussion among team members is very illuminating.

Word on the Street Junior: You need to think of a word in a category and then spell that word using the letters on the street. The way the game is played is captivating. Part of the strategy is to steal your opponent’s letters.

Each clue is so open-ended that you can play the game with multiple age groups. Younger players can be given assistance with spelling of complicated words so that they can be included. It is also very suitable for team play.

Age 11 to 16

Wit’s End: Get your teens reading to figure out the answer to the questions. This is the all-grown-up version of the junior game.

The questions are much more challenging than the junior version of the game. it may be helpful to pair older children with younger ones to play the game.

The Game of Things: Not only do you read the game cards but you interpret the answers written by the game players.

Answer a question such as “Things you should never tell anyone” and then guess which solution belongs to which of the game players. The game is made interesting by involving the personality of the players.

STEM Family Battle: This trivial pursuit like game focuses on STEM topics: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

There are 2 levels of play. With sets for adults and sets of questions for kids 12+. Reading is a critical component of the game except for some of the mathematical problems. Each card gives you a choice of categories.

Clue: While reading the clues, everyone needs to pay attention to the details to figure out this Who Dun It game. This is the classic version.

Of the 6 suspects who is the likely murderer? Form your own opinion as you gather clues along the way.

“Meanwhile, games in which players have to remember several pieces of information at once (who did what, and where) might help a child who’s having trouble with reading comprehension — all while still having fun.” according to Parents for Scholastic.

Llamas Unleashed: This new game captures the interest of the players yet demands some reading skills. The playtime is from 30 to 45 minutes and is recommended for 14 +.

This new game will engage your crowd through hilarity in the play. So you can encourage reading while everyone is having a hoot. Strategy is involved as well.

Can’t Fool Me: In this game, you need to make connections to words. It is definitely a vocabulary-building game, made for 14+

As you solve the word puzzles you advance along the board. The game is a 3 step process. First you hear a keyword such as “feed” and then you hear the clue. This is hard to swallow. Did you guess “feedback?” You are constantly making connections to words that may not be logical.

In the end, you can encourage language skills through gameplay. Your son or daughter may not even feel that they are learning.

Your kids may just see the experience as a lot of fun.

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