Educational Games

Literacy Games

Oral Language Games

I Spy This guessing game is beneficial in sharpening a child’s observation and familiarity with the alphabet. Begin by choosing an object you can see in your surroundings (i.e. table) and say “I spy with my little eye, something beginning with t.” The child looks around and responds with anything that is seen that begins with the letter t (toe, telephone, television, etc.) until the word table isguessed.  Then the child chooses an object and asks you to guess. This game is often played on car trips to pass the time.

Rhyming I Spy. Adding a rhyming twist to an I Spy game can help develop phonemic awareness (the sounds that letters make). Choose an object in the room for the child to find, (i.e. book) and say, “I spy something that rhymes with cook.” Once your child guesses correctly, have her pick an object for you to guess.

How many rhymes? You say a word (i.e. day) and have your child say as many words as possible that rhyme with it (i.e. say may, pay, lay). This game lays a foundation for reading rhyming words later on.

Games for Beginning Readers

Concentration. Choose 6 to 16 words that the child is having difficulty reading.  These should be words that appear frequently in books for young children. (See list of frequently appearing words on page 4 ) Print each word neatly on 2 index cards. Make sure the print does not bleed through so that the word can be seen on the back of the card.  Shuffle the cards and lay them face down in 2 or 3 rows. Make sure that you and the child who is playing are on the side of the table where the word cards are viewed right side up. The game starts with you turning over 2 cards in an attempt to make them match. Be sure to say the words as the cards are turned over. If no match is made, it becomes the child’s turn to choose two word cards in an attempt to make a match. If the child cannot read the words, simply say the words for the child. Do not insist on the child saying the words or sounding them out. The child will gradually learn to read the word by simply hearing you say the word as it is exposed. Concentration can also be playedwith card pairs on which words that rhyme are printed (i.e. day and say; boy and toy; run and sun) . Have your child match up the cards that rhyme.

Fish.  To promote practice with somewhat familiar words, the same sets of word cards used for Concentration can be used to play Fish. Deal 5 cards to yourself and the child who is playing.  Place the rest of the deck upside down on the table. Each player then takes turns trying to match a word held in the hand with one held by the other player. If, the child cannot read a word, allow him to spell it. (i.e. The child says “ do you have the word which is spelled “t-,h-e”)? You can say the word that has been spelled as you look at your hand in search for the word that has been spelled ( i.e. Yes, I have the word “the”. If you do not have the card, tell the child to “Go Fish” from the deck on the table. As matches are made they are set aside. A winner is declared when all cards in a players hand have been matched.

Sentence Sense Concentration. This game aids the child in developing word recognition at the same time as it aids in developing comprehension. Depending on the literacy level of the child, plan for 3 to 12 match pairs with two index cards for each match pair. This time print the targeted word (i.e. “baby”) on one card. On the other card write an incomplete sentence that requires the target word “baby” to make it complete ( i.e. Mother loves her _______.) Note: Having the isolated word printed on an index card of a different color (i.e. white) than the card displaying the incomplete sentence (i.e. yellow) facilitates play. The cards are shuffled and laid face down on the table. Each player chooses a white card and a yellow card in an attempt to make a match. The pair is deemed a match if the isolated word fits sensibly into the incomplete sentence card.

Letter Tic-Tac-Toe


To play this game for practice, draw a tic-tac-toe grid so it fits on a large sheet of paper or oaktag (6×8 or 8 X 11 is a good size). Choose two letters your child needs to learn (e.g. “S” and T). On each of 9 post- it- notes of one color (e.g. blue) print the letter “S”. On each of 9 post-it notes of another color, print the letter T. Each player (child/parent) plays with one color set. Make sure the letter name is stated as it is played on the grid.


Tic-Tac-Toe Alternative


letter bingo
Of course there are other alternatives to playing tic-tac-toe so that literacy skills are practiced. Sets of post-it notes can be made to enable practice with letter sounds, sight words, as well as letter names. For example, given that each set of sight words is on one color, each post-it can display the same word or a different word depending on the ability of the child at the time the game is played. Again the words should be stated as they are placed on the board, either by the child or the adult playing with the child.

Letter or Sight Word Bingo


Develop BINGO cards displaying letters or words, one for each player. Letters or words on each card should be differentially distributed. Duplicates of all words should be written on cards and placed in a bag to be drawn and said by the adult. Note: The grid displaying sight words can be larger or smaller depending on the level that the children can handle. Use 2×2 or 3×3 grids for beginning readers. Straight lines – vertical, horizontal, and diagonal reflect the winner, if the words have been called by the adult and covered (use blank post-its) by the child.
Note: The font size used on the game grids (New Times Roman 16) is a good size to use with small children

Words Frequently Appearing in Young Children’s Books


Compiled by Edward W. Dolch , PhD, the Words on list 1, 2 and 3 are often recognized by sight by the end of First grade. Words on list 4 are often identified by sight by the end of Second grade. Words on list 5 are identified by sight by the end of Third grade . Note: A sight word is one which can be recognized in a flash or 1/20th of second.

Scanlon, D.M., Anderson, K.,& Sweeney, J.M. (2010) Early Intervention for Reading Difficulties: The Interactive Strategies Approach. Guilford Press: New York.

Tompkins,GE.,(2007) Literacy for the 21st Century: A Balanced Approach. Allyn-Bacon: New York