Playing Games is a Great Way

Select five to ten words from a book (or books) the child is reading. Print each word clearly and boldly on separate 3×5 inch index cards, making pairs of each word. (The child may be able to help you by copying the words you write.)

Shuffle the cards and place them face down in neat rows. Take turns turning up two cards at a time and reading the words aloud. If the two cards match, the player keeps them and takes a second turn. If they do not match, the cards are replaced face down and the next player takes a turn. Play until all the cards are matched. The player with the most pairs wins. If the child has trouble recognizing a word, say the word — do not ask the child to “sound out” the word. The purpose of this game is to build automatic recognition of whole words.

Shuffle and deal three to six cards to each player. Players take turns drawing a card from a player to their left. If a player draws a card that matches one in his or her hand, he/she reads the two matching words in order to keep the pair. Play continues until all the cards are matched, except for the one odd card. The player who holds that card at the end wins the game.

Select two or three sets of fish pictures that start with the same letters and mix them up. Place face down on a table and take turns “going fishing.” As each fish is turned over, the child names the picture and places it in the appropriate pile under the key letter / picture. When all the fish are caught and placed correctly, have the child “read” the pictures under each heading. If necessary, read along with him or her, saying the letter name and stressing the initial sound of the word. “Yes, here are ‘S’ pictures: sssun, sssnake, sssaxophone.”

Create a game board with four or five squares on each side. Prepare word cards with families of words that emerge from the child’s reading: night, light, tight; went, bent, sent; hat, cat, bat. (For beginning readers or younger children, make sure the patterns are not too similar: mat, sat, rat; man, can, ran; met, set, bet.) Color code each word family and each side of the game board.

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