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Five Quick Games That Build Reading Skills


  • Arts & Humanities
  • Language Arts


  • K-2
  • 3-5
  • 6-8

Brief Description

Five fun games use selections of reading text to build students' skills in syllabication, sentence structure, sequencing, word recognition, skimming, and visual recognition.


These small-group or whole-class games will engage students as they build a variety of reading skills.


syllabication, syllable, structure, sequence, recognition, skim, visual, recognition, vocabulary, synonym

Materials Needed

  • selections of reading text
  • paper and pencils

Lesson Plan

The following five quick games build reading skills:

Searching for Syllables
Builds syllabication skills

Provide each student with a sheet of lined writing paper. Instruct students to fold the paper to create three columns, and number the columns 1, 2, and 3. (Older students might divide their paper into more columns; or head the columns with the numbers 2, 3, and 4 or more or 3, 4, and 5 or more.) The numbers indicate the number of syllables in the words that will be placed in each column.

Provide a selection of text (of a paragraph, page, or other appropriate length) and have students write each word in the text in the appropriate column on their papers. The student who places the most words in the correct columns wins!

Alpha Sentences
Builds grammar (sentence structure) skills and creativity

Select a sentence from text the students have read. Then have students work individually or in pairs to create another sentence in which the words begin with the same letters as the words in the selected sentence. For example, The house was for sale might become Ten helicopters were flying south. Students vote for the best sentences created by their peers.

For younger students, be sure to keep sentences short and choose sentences with words that begin with common letters.

Meaning Match-Up
Builds word-meaning skills

Provide each pair of students with 20 index cards, and have each pair divide the cards evenly between them. Then provide each pair with ten vocabulary words. Tell each student to write five of the words on index cards, one word to a card. Then tell each student to write the definitions of those five words on the remaining five cards, one definition per card. Mix up the cards, turn them upside down, and place them in five rows of four cards each. Have Player 1 turn over two cards. If the cards are a word and matching definition, the player keeps those two cards and continues his or her turn. If the cards don't match, they are turned back over and Player 2 takes a turn. Play continues until all words are matched to their definitions.

Extension idea: Provide each pair of students with a different list of vocabulary words. That way, you will end up with a large number of vocabulary games, which students can share.

Which Word?
Builds sequence and word recognition skills

Focus students on a particular story or chapter of a text. Select a "mystery word" from the selected text, write that word on a piece of paper, and give students a clue about the word's location in the text. For example, say I am thinking of a word on page 63. Students take turns asking yes-or-no questions that will help them zero in on the correct word. For example, the first student might ask, Does it come after the word "time" on that page? or Is it before the word "special"? Your responses will help students zero in on the possibilities. Each student, at the start of his or her turn, has the opportunity to guess the word. If the guess is correct, that student earns a point and a new word is selected. If the child's guess is incorrect, he or she is out of the game until the next round.

After students have learned the rules of this game, they can play it on their own in small groups. In small groups, each student plays a more active role in the game.

Word Hunt
Builds skimming and visual recognition skills

Choose a section of text appropriate for students' ages. (The text might be a paragraph, a page, or more.) Provide students with a piece of scrap paper. Write four words on a chalkboard or chart; three of the words should come directly from the text; the fourth word should not appear in the text. As soon as the four words are revealed, have students skim the text, looking for the four words. When they know which word does not appear in the text, they write it on their papers and put down their pencils to signal they are done. How many students found the correct word?


A short follow-up quiz will determine whether students grasp the skills each activity is intended to teach/reinforce.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

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