Playful Ways to Help Children With Reading And Spelling

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Reading And Spelling Games Kids Will Love!

Playing word related games provides children an enjoyable way of practicing their reading, spelling, and grammar skills!

Children tend to pay better attention and learn more when they are doing something they enjoy, so why not try to make learning an engaging and pleasurable experience?! Besides, don't we want our children to love reading?

As both a former preschool and elementary school teacher, as well as a homeschooling parent, I've become familiar with quite a few games which help to improve children's language art skills - especially reading and spelling! On this page, you'll find my personal review of my favorites!

About This Fun Reading Games Page
I've divided the page into three sections:

Games for Beginning Readers
Games for Intermediate Readers
Additional Reading and Spelling Resources

A few games could easily fit in either of the game categories, so you might enjoy perusing the games in both, no matter the level of your children. For additional help with reading and spelling, don't miss the additional resources at the end of the page!

Some of the games are what I refer to as "school games" and are geared towards teaching one or more particular skills. In spite of this, I've found the ones I'm reviewing on this page to be lots of fun! (Yes, there are some I've found to be a bit less than exciting, but I'm not going to mention them here.)

Other games, such as "In A Pickle," are designed for the general public, and just happen to provide some reading or spelling practice in the process!

If your child is significantly behind grade level, or you suspect he may have dyslexia, be sure to check out the additional reading and spelling resources section of this page.

Photo (above) of Syllabification Phonics Game is © 2011 Janiece Tobey.
Article and photographs © 2011 - 2014 Janiece Tobey. All rights reserved.

Games for Beginning Readers

~Letter Sounds~
~Short Vowel Words~
~Long Vowel Words~
~Magic E Words~
~Sight Words~

Chip-O Beginning Reading Game

K-3, or other beginning readers

Photo © by Janiece.
This game for beginning readers is one of my top favorites!

What the Game is Like
The board is covered with pictures of easy to identify items and the cards contain the written words of those same times.

How to Play the Game:
On his turn, each player selects one of his four cards to play, reads the word on the card, and places a colored marker on top of its picture on the board. Since each picture appears in two different locations on the board, part of the strategy comes in deciding which of your cards to pick, and the rest comes in selecting which picture to cover with your marker. Your goal is to get four of your color markers in a row, diagonally, vertically, or horizontally, while also preventing your opponents from getting four of their markers in a row.
You can play until one player has a certain number of 4 in a rows or play how ever long you'd like and then count everyone's 4 in a rows.

There are also rules included for playing other versions of the game, such as matching rhyming words.

Strengths of the Game
This game is FUN, which means you'll play it over and over! When my son was younger, this was our most frequently played reading game! He'd select it over all the others!

Where to Get the Game
For more info or to purchase the game, visit: Chip-o or your local educational teacher store. Also, Chip-o is often available on ebay and Amazon!

Wingo Beginning Reading Games: Short Vowels, Long Vowels, and Blends & Diagraphs

Wingo helps kids review their phonics and practice sounding out words in a fun game format!

wingo, long vowels, reading game
Photo © by Janiece.

There are three versions of Wingo: short vowel sounds, long vowel sounds, and blends and diagraphs. The long vowel sound version is the one with which I have the most experience.

What the Game is Like.
The game consists of several small boards that have been divided up into rectangles. The white rectangles contain the ending of one word and the beginning of another. The rest have no letters in them but are a particular color. The game also comes with colorful tiles. The tiles all contain both the ending of one word and the beginning of another.

How to Play the Game:
Each player places one or two boards in front of them. On his turn, he spins the color spinner and selects one of the blocks that matches the color of the spinner . If he can play the piece he selects on a matching color spot on either of his boards and make a real word with it, he gets to keep it there. If he can't use that block to make a real word, he must discard it. The first player to fill up his board(s), wins!

Strengths Of The Game
One of it's strengths is that a child must often sound out more than one word in a turn, as he searches for a place to play the tile in his hand. This gives the child more reading practice per turn! For example, if a yellow tile has the word ending, "ail" on it, and the word beginning, "w" on it, the player will try the piece in various yellow spots on his board to see if it makes a word. Naturally, he has to read each combination to see if the word it makes is real or not! He couldn't play his piece before the ending "ope" because "wope" isn't a word. Yet he could play his piece after the beginning "p" because "pail" is a word!

A Collection Of Free Printable Reading Games

from Adrian Bruce!

phonics,multisyllables,reading gamefree phonics gamefun phonics gamephonics game oi oy
Photos © by Janiece.
Above is a very small sampling of the reading games that are available for free on
Adrian Bruce’s Educational Resources Website!

This is a fabulous collection of free printable reading and math games! I’ve printed and played quite a few of them! I highly recommend these phonics and sight word games!

What the Games Are Like
There are many different types of reading games on Adrian Bruce’s website! These vary from matching games to “Go Fish” to games resembling “Crazy 8′s,” and many others! They focus on the following skills: short vowel sounds, sight words, magic e words, two and three letter blends, prefixes, hard and soft c and g, contractions, vowel digraphs, syllables, and many other skills!

Strengths of the Games
Adrian Bruce is a teacher who designs these games for the children in his class, and then shares them with the world – for free. I’ve found these games to be quite effective in helping kids sound out words! And you can’t beat the price!

How To Get Them – Just download, print, cut, and play! The directions for how to play each game are included!

1. Load your printer with cardstock. I often use beige cardstock instead of white because sometimes you can see through the white cards too easily. If you have problems with being able to read through the cards, you may wish to consider gluing a second piece of cardstock on the back (preferably before you cut the cards out.) Rubber cement or a gluestick works well for this.

2. Visit: Free Printable Educational Games. Once on Adrian Bruce’s educational website, click where it says, “Reading Games.” This takes you to a page describing what reading games you’ll find in each of several rooms. Click the room of your choosing, and scroll down the page to see what games are available there.

3. Decide if you’d like the windows version or the acrobot version, then print, cut the pieces out, and play! (Optional: You can laminate the game pieces or cover them with clear contact paper, if you’d like.)

Adrian Bruce’s Educational Resources Website
Adrian Bruce’s facebook page: The Teacher Toolbox

The Sentence Game For Juniors

a fun reading game!

The Sentence Game For Juniors has two levels of play. One side of the board contains pre-made sentences. The other side is for creating your own sentences.

sentence reading word game
Photo © by Janiece.
This side of the board has premade sentences.

This is the easiest version. Each turn, read two of your tiles and place them on top of their corresponding words on the board. When someone plays a piece that completes a sentence, he earns a point. At the end of the game, the player with the most points wins.

sentence game
Photo © by Janiece.
This side of the board is for creating your own sentences!

This version is a bit more challenging, and allows for much creativity! All the tiles are divided evenly between the players. On your turn, place two or more tiles on the board to make a complete sentence, or add one or more tiles to an existing sentence. All sentences after the first must use at least one tile that's already on the board. Points are given for each tile placed on the board.

To increase the learning potential of the game, I have written the words, "nouns," "verbs," and "adjectives" on small pieces of paper. At the beginning of the game, I give a set to all players, and encourage them to categorize their words under the labels. Doing this helps players create longer sentences, and also helps them learn more about the parts of speech.

parts of speech game
Photo above © by Janiece.

Letterland Curriculum

It's a full beginning reading program, complete with teacher's manual, books, games, software, and more!

letterland phonics program
Photo © by Janiece.

Letterland is a beginning reading curriculum that combines creativity and playfulness to the learning of phonics! The letters of the alphabet are all represented by charming and personable characters. There’s Zig Zag Zebra, Dippy Duck (who’s a detective!) Robber R (who steals vowel sounds), Clever Cat, and more! There are stories and lessons about each character. The stories and characterizations help kids recall the letter’s sound, as well as it’s affect on nearby letters.

For more information about Letterland, visit: Letterland. I’ve also included a short you-tube about Letterland, below.

Letterland: Detective Dippy Duck

This short video will show you some of the adorable letterland characters!

You'll connect with your readers. If you type a sentence here about why you love this video.

Step N Spell - helps make learning be more active!

For reading and spelling practice

spelling activitiy
Photo © by Janiece.

Step N Spell is a large plastic mat with all the letters of the alphabet on it. To practice spelling, one player calls out spelling words to the jumper who jumps on the letters in order to spell the word. To use the mat to practice reading, have your child or children watch closely as you jump from letter to letter on the mat. Ask them to try to identity the word you made. It's fun to go back and forth, with everyone taking a turn jumping!

Variation: For variety's sake, why not try spell words by throwing a beanbag to each letter in turn. For example, to spell apple, throw the bean bag to A, then to P, then to P again, then to L, then to E.

Would you like to read more about Step N Spell? Visit: My Review of Step N Spell.

Games For Intermediate Readers and Spellers

Multisyllable Word Games
Prefixes, Suffixes, and Root Words

Creating Sentences

Syllabification Phonics Game

Intermediate Readers - Multisyllable words - Prefixes, suffixes, root words

Syllabification reading game
Photo © by Janiece.

What the Game is Like
Everyone is given a rack to hold their tiles on. On each tile is a part of a word - either a prefix, a suffix, or a root word. The colors of the letters on each tile make it easy to tell which part of the word it is! Prefixes are green, suffixes are red, and root words are black.

How to Play the Game
Make words with the tiles on your rack, and play them on the board. Players can remove a prefix or suffix off of a word already on the table (theirs or an opponents) if what remains is still a complete word. The player must then use that piece, with at least one piece from their rack, to create a new word. Players can also add prefixes or suffixes to words already on the board to make those words longer.

Strengths of the Game
This game is great for teaching about prefixes, suffixes, and root words, and how to combine them to make longer words!

4 In A Row Reading Game

For Intermediate Readers - Multisyllable Reading Game

Multisyllable Reading Game
Photo © by Janiece.
This game is one of our favorites and all it cost you is the ink and cardstock!

About the Game
This game is similar to Chip-o in that the goal is to get 1 or more 4 in a rows. Unlike Chip-o, the board is covered with words, rather than pictures, and there are no cards. You need a die and something to use as markers, such as checkers or coins.

How to Get the Game
Several free printable versions can be found on Adrian Bruce’s educational resources website. Prefer to customize your own? There is also a blank template on his website which allows you to put whatever words you’d like on the board prior to printing it! If you want your student(s) to practice words with short vowel sounds, type those in. If you need multi-syllable words, use those! You can use colors to separate syllables, emphasize vowel sounds, or simply to make the board more colorful!

I usually create 4 boards and tape them together. (Or I create 2 boards and photograph them to make 4.) Having a larger board adds to the fun!

How to Play the Game
Roll a die and then select any word on that number row, read it, and cover it with a marker. Then it’s the next player’s turn. If after you’ve played for a while, you roll a number that is already filled up on the game board, play passes to the next player. The object is to be the player with the most 4 in a rows at the end of the game. Of course, even while trying to create 4 in a rows for yourself, you must try to block your opponents from creating their own 4 in a rows!

We love the game so much, we often play 5 in a row instead. We occasionally play 6 in a row as well, but it’s much harder to accomplish more than one or two of those! Sometimes we predetermine how many 5 in a rows we need to win, and other times we play until we run out of markers!

Strengths of the Game
This game provides fantastic practice with reading multisyllable words (or whatever type of words you select) and is also a lot of fun!

You've Been Sentenced! Game

Reading, grammar, creating sentences, improving vocabulary!

word game,grammar,reading
Photo © by Janiece.

About the Game
You've Been Sentenced is played entirely with cards, a scorepad, and a pencil for keeping score. (A sand timer is also included in the game for those who wish to time players). The cards are not like regular playing cards though! They have five sides and five words on them. Each word is assigned a point value ranging from 5 points to 20. The words on a particular card are usually related to one another, such as "dreaming," "dreamer," "dream," "dreams," "dreamt," Or, "you," "your," "yours," "you're," "you'd." Not all the words on a card have the same points, which makes things interesting as players try to use their 20 point words in sentences!

How to Play
Each person is dealt 10 cards. (We usually also give everyone one wild card.) Then all at the same time, everyone tries to create a sentence from their cards. Only one word from each card may be used, but it is not necessary to use every card. You can play a timed version, or do as we do and allow everyone as much time as they need to create their sentence. When the sentences have been played, everyone reads their sentence aloud. Those with complete sentences add up their points. Deal new cards to everyone, and play begins again. Play to a prespecified amount of points, or just play as many rounds as you'd like. The winner is the one with the most points at the end of the game.

Strengths of the Game
This game really tests one's ability to make sentences! How creative can you be? Can you find a way to use one or two 20 point words in your sentence, or to create the longest sentence for that round? The sentences are often hilarious, but they count as long as they are complete sentences!

Word Pirates - A Fun Reading Game With A Pirate Theme

Shiver me timbers! You be need'n this game, me hearty!

Word Pirates is a game where you use bridge pieces and words (that you roll with letter dice) to get your pirate character from his boat to the treasure on the island! Don't forgot to act like a pirate as you block your opponent's path with rock wall pieces! After all, you don't want him to beat you to the treasure!

In A Pickle Card Game

Both fun and educational! A reading game the whole family will enjoy!

In a Pickle reading card game
Photo © by Janiece.
In A Pickle is another one of my favorites!

Unlike many of the games I've mentioned which were designed to be educational, In A Pickle is a regular game and is played and enjoyed by youth and adults alike! For kids who can already read some, In A Pickle provides additional practice in a very enjoyable way! (Kids can always ask for help with any words they have trouble with.)

In A Pickle is about being creative and imaginative, and involves reading with every turn!!

For a more detailed review I wrote of In A Pickle please visit: My Review Of In A Pickle.

Quiddler Game

Spelling Fun!

Quiddler word game
Photo © by Janiece.

About the Game
Quiddler is played in a series of rounds. In the first round, each person is dealt three cards. In the next round, each player receives four cards. The following round, everyone is dealt five cards, and so on up to 10 cards in the last round. The cards have one or two letters on them, with a number indicating that card's point value. Letters that appear less frequently in words have higher points than more common letters.

How to Play the Game
On his turn, each player selects the top card off either the discard pile or the draw pile and adds it to his hand. He then looks at the cards in his hand and tries to arrange them into words. To be able to play the words down on the table, all but one (the discard) must fit into words. If the player is unable to go out that turn by playing down all of his cards, he selects one card to discard and then play passes to the next person. The game continues until someone is able to play down all the cards in their hand. At that point, everyone else has one more turn to try to play down as much of their hand as they can. All cards left in a player's hand at the end of the game count against him. Record everyone's points and proceed to the next round, dealing one more card to each player than during the last round.

Strengths of the Game
Quiddler is a regular game (not a "school game") that also helps kids practice their phonics and spelling. It's a very enjoyable game to play!

Additional Reading Resources

Another Fabulous Reading Resource!

Games for Reading: Playful Ways to Help Your Child Read

Peggy Kaye's books, Games for Reading, Games for Learning, Games for Writing, and Games for Math, are filled with educational games and activities which make learning fun for kids! She has some fabulous ideas! I highly recommend her books for homeschooling families, elementary school teachers, tutors, and parents who want to have some educational fun with their child!

A few more books on reading you may want to know about....


Is your child or teen struggling with reading?

Could he or she have dyslexia or a learning disability?

I very highly recommend the Barton Reading and Spelling Program for anyone experiencing problems with reading.

Did your child take longer than most to learn to talk, or have a lot of articulation problems?
Did or does your child mix up syllables or sounds in long words?
Did your child have trouble learning how to tie shoes?
Do they have a problem in rhyming words, or with letter reversals past first grade?

These are some of the signs of dyslexia. Of course having just one or two signs doesn’t necessary mean your child is dyslexic.

For more of the signs that point to dyslexia, please visit: Signs of Dyslexia.

If your child is struggling with reading, and you want to do something more to help, check out the: Barton Reading and Spelling System. I very highly recommend this program for struggling readers!!! It’s a one-on-one program that you can do with your child at home. It’s an Orton-Gillingham influenced program, and it’s EXCELLENT for those with dyslexia or learning disabilities!

Sometimes you can find levels 1 and 2 of the Barton Reading and Spelling System on Ebay.

To have success with the program, it's necessary to start with level 1. Level 1 is probably the most important level of all! (Levels in the Barton system have nothing to do with grade level.)

At the time of this writing, levels 1 and 2 of the Barton Reading and Spelling System can be purchased new from the Barton website for $250 each. Yes, they are expensive, but they are worth it. Levels 1 and 2 are also often available used on ebay.

Like this page on fun reading and spelling games for kids?

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  • bercton Jan 14, 2014 @ 8:28 pm
    Great games and great lens. Good work!
  • vallain Jan 14, 2014 @ 7:51 pm
    Wow, you've packed a lot into this one.
    We used to play a word game while washing dishes. One sister would hunt up a strange word in the dictionary and give us 3 possible definitions. Only one was right, so we had to guess which one.
  • angelatvs Jan 14, 2014 @ 5:39 pm
    Bananagrams and In A Pickle are favorites in our family! Congrats on LOTD!
  • servantoftheLord Jan 14, 2014 @ 5:30 pm
    I always love your lenses, Janiece! Great stuff!!
  • Anonymous831 Jan 14, 2014 @ 5:05 pm
    Fantastic Lens.
  • favored1 Jan 14, 2014 @ 4:57 pm
    An excellent selection of resources. I wish more schools would set aside funds in the budget for these types of learning materials. When I was teaching seven levels in one class I could have used these, but most of the time I had to buy extra learning tools myself. Congratulations on LotD.
  • rauspitz Jan 14, 2014 @ 4:03 pm
    Excellent selection of learning tools. Congratulations on getting LotD!
  • LynnKK Jan 14, 2014 @ 3:44 pm
    Nice assortment of resources. I work with students who struggle with reading so these are great ideas for me.
  • raveonstudio Jan 14, 2014 @ 2:48 pm
    Wow this is a fantastic lens - keep up the great work!!
  • LLMom27 Jan 14, 2014 @ 2:04 pm
    I love using games in my homeschool.
  • LynnKK Jan 14, 2014 @ 1:36 pm
    Thanks so much for all these great ideas!
  • grammieo Jan 14, 2014 @ 1:17 pm
    Fantastic lens, all really good suggestions, thank you so much!
  • flycatcher Jan 14, 2014 @ 1:16 pm
    This is just wonderful - what a lot of ideas and resources for parents and teachers alike!
    You've made me realize how many of the "old-fashioned" games we played as kids were cleverly designed to teach a whole lot of important skills, with reading one of them. Can't win a Scrabble game if you can't spell, or you have a small vocabulary, right? :)
  • BunnyFabulous Jan 14, 2014 @ 12:59 pm
    What a fantastic resource! My daughter is currently an emerging reader, so I'll have to try some of these out. We've loved Zingo for pre-reading, and I made up my own sight word game to practice the basics.
  • Colin323 Jan 14, 2014 @ 12:46 pm
    A fun way to learn - the best way.
  • penny-richens Jan 14, 2014 @ 12:44 pm
    We love Apples to Apples at our house. The step and spell game looks like something I should add to my toy closet. This is a great lens, you really rocked it!
  • Michellle Jan 14, 2014 @ 11:54 am
    I LOVE these games. Awesome lens!
  • esmonaco Jan 14, 2014 @ 11:42 am
    A very nice selection of educational material here, Thanks for taking the time to write about it. Congratulations on LOTD!!
  • boneworld Jan 14, 2014 @ 10:37 am
    This is a great resource. I'll have to try some of these games.
  • StephenJParkin Jan 14, 2014 @ 10:18 am
    I really liked this lens and it was a well deserved LOTD. We played games like this a lot and I was rapidly moved to playing Scrabble (adult version) with my parents and then to helping Dad do the Daily Telegraph Crossword puzzle with the help of a dictionary.

    I must say I never once thought of it as anything but a fun game. It never occurred to me at the time that this might be school work in disguise!
  • tonyleather Jan 14, 2014 @ 10:16 am
    A wonderful lens full of excellent advice! Well done!
  • Susan52 Jan 14, 2014 @ 10:01 am
    We always loved games when we were homeschooling. Great choices here! Congrats on your love-it-when-they-don't-know-they're-learning Lens of the Day!
  • tfsherman Jan 14, 2014 @ 9:53 am
    Great stuff! Can't wait to order some of these recommendations for my library! Very informative and just what I needed.
  • katiecolette Jan 14, 2014 @ 9:06 am
    Syllabification Phonics Game looks like a great way to introduce prefixes, suffixes, and show how you can form words by adding prefixes and suffixes to roots. What a great collection of educational games!
  • seleenf Jan 14, 2014 @ 8:50 am
    Thank you very much for the precious lens

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© 2011 – 2014 Janiece Tobey. All rights reserved.
This reading and spelling webpage was created on 1/17/11.
Page last updated 6/26/14.

Develop Context Clues To Improve Reading Comprehension