Preschool Education: Teaching Children How To Read Through Games

Teaching children to love reading
Teaching children to love reading

In the years I've been with Dynamic Minds Learning House, I have taught reading to many preschool children. One thing I have learned is that kids are more receptive to learning when they think they are just playing and having fun.

I will share with you three of my favorite games and activities for reinforcing reading skills, including how to make the materials and how to play the game. I didn't "invent" these activities, and neither did our school. These games were simply adapted from existing games to suit our purpose. It's really very simple. Once you get the hang of it, you can make your own activities, too.

GO FISH!

The real Go Fish is a card game that uses a standard 52-card deck, but our version utilizes special cards that you will have to make. Don't worry, it's very easy to make that even a child can do it. Here's what you will need:

  • construction paper, cartolina, or specialty boards (like the ones you use to make calling cards)
  • scissors or a cutter (an adult will have to do the cutting)
  • marker or pen (alternatively, you can make them on the computer and print them out instead of writing with a marker)


Go Fish cards that I made on the computer
Go Fish cards that I made on the computer

How to make Go Fish cards

Follow these steps if you're making your playing cards by hand:

  1. Cut the construction paper, cartolina, specialty boards, or bond paper into card-sized pieces. I like to use specialty boards since they are stiffer and won't tear as easily when handled by children. You will need an even number of cards, how many though is up to you. I like to make many cards so we don't run out of cards to fish during the game.
  2. Write a word on the front of each card following the format of a deck of cards. You can also draw its picture in the middle of the card to make your activity target both reading skill reinforcement and vocabulary development. (See photo of the Go Fish cards I made on the computer.) If you're teaching kids how to read consonant-vowel-consonant words, then use CVC words such as cat, dog, pig. Make two identical cards for each word.

If you're making your playing cards on the computer, you'll need to print them on whole sheets of construction paper, specialty board, or bond paper, so don't cut them into pieces before you start. But if you're using cartolina, you'll need to cut the cartolina into bond-paper sized pieces to make it fit in your printer.

How to play Go Fish

Two or more players can play this game, depending on the number of cards you made. The object of this game is to be the first to use up all your cards by matching the identical ones.

Mechanics of the game:

  1. Have the kids sit on the floor forming a small circle or around a table if you like. Deal five to seven cards to each of the players (depending on the number of players and the number of playing cards you have). Put the remainder of the cards face down in the middle of the circle or table, spreading them out in a non-orderly pile like fish in the ocean.
  2. Let the kids look at the cards in their hand to see if there are pairs. All pairs (identical cards) should be put face up in front of the player who formed it. Only the cards with no pairs will be left in play.
  3. The player whose turn it is to play asks another player if he or she has a certain card. For example, if it is Ashley's turn to play, she will ask, "Jamie, do you have a cat?" Jamie must hand over the card of the cat if she has it. Ashley will then put the pair of cats face up in front of her and take another turn.
  4. If the player being asked doesn't have the card being asked for, he or she tells the one asking to "Go fish!" In our example above, if Jamie doesn't have the card with a cat on it, she tells Ashley to "Go fish!" and Ashley must draw a card from the "ocean of fish" and the turn moves on to the next player. (If the card Ashley picked happened to form a pair with one of the cards in her hand, she puts them face up in front of her and the turn still moves on to the next player.) A player can only ask for a card that is in his or her hand.
  5. Players continue to take turns asking for a card until one player has paired all of his or her cards.

You can also play variations of the game. For example, instead of the game stopping after one player has paired all his or her cards, you can have the others continue until there are no more cards in the "ocean". And instead of the winner being the first one to pair all his or her cards, you can have the one with the most number of pairs at the end of the game as the winner.

S-Blends Bingo card that I made on the computer
S-Blends Bingo card that I made on the computer

BINGO!

Everybody knows how to play Bingo, right? Well, our version has words on it, not numbers. To make Bingo cards, you will need:

  • bond paper, construction paper, or specialty boards
  • pen (not necessary if you're making the cards on the computer)

To play Bingo, you will need:

  • crayons
  • or small poker chips (if you want to reuse your Bingo cards after the game)

How to make Bingo cards

Follow these steps if you're making your Bingo cards by hand:

  1. Draw a 5x5 grid on the paper or board. Make sure the spacing is even. Write BINGO! at the top.
  2. Write a word in each square on the grid. If your teaching kids how to read words with S-blends, then use words with S-blends such as spin, scat, swim. (See photo of the S-blends Bingo card I made on the computer.)
  3. Make as many Bingo cards as there are players. Each Bingo card should contain the same words but in a different order.

To make the call-out cards, write the words you put in the Bingo cards in small pieces of paper and put them in a box or jar. Bingo cards and call-out cards are just as easy to make on the computer. Simply type them and print.

How to play Bingo!

Any number of players can play this game provided that you made enough Bingo cards. The object of the game is to form a row of five words either horizontally or vertically. The first one to do so is the winner.

Mechanics of the game:

  1. Have the kids sit on the floor or at a table and give each one a Bingo card and a light-colored crayon or some poker chips to mark the words with.
  2. Randomly pick a call-out card from the box and read it out loud. Have each player find the word you called out in his or her Bingo card and mark it with a crayon or a poker chip. Since each word called out is in the Bingo card (in different positions), all players should be able to mark one word after each call out.
  3. Continue calling out words until a player has marked a row of five words either horizontally or vertically and shouts "Bingo!" He or she is the winner of the game.

Bingo can also be played with variatons such as having kids play by pairs, or giving each child a turn to pick a call-out card.

MEMORY GAME

Memory game is a fun game that will enhance memory as well as reinforce reading skills.  This game is usually done with pictures, but our version uses words.  To make the memory game cards, you will need:

  • construction paper, cartolina, or specialty boards
  • pen (or you can make it on the computer)
  • scissors

How to make Memory Game cards

Making Memory Game cards is very simple. All you need to do is cut the construction paper, cartolina, or specialty board into small pieces and write a word on the front of each. As usual, use words that fit your lesson. If you're teaching long vowel words, use words such as cape, meal, pole. Also, if you're going to make it on the computer, print out the words first before cutting up the cards.

Just like with Go Fish, you need to make two cards for each word, and you also need to make sure the backs of all the cards are identical. There should be no distinuishing marks on them. Use fewer pairs for younger kids, the older ones can handle more cards.

16 Memory Game cards laid out in a pattern resembling a grid with 2 cards open
16 Memory Game cards laid out in a pattern resembling a grid with 2 cards open

How to play Memory Game

Memory Game can be played by two or more players.  The object of the game is to collect as many pairs as possible before the cards run out.

Mechanics of the game:

  1. Have the kids sit around a table.  Lay all the cards face down on the table in the pattern of a grid.
  2. Players take turns flipping open two cards at a time to see if they match.  Players must read the words out loud for the other players to hear.
  3. If the two cards match, the player who opened them gets them and puts them face up in a pile in front of him or her.  He then takes another turn.  (If he gets another pair, he gets yet another turn, otherwise the turn moves on to the next player.)
  4. If the two cards don't match, the player who opened them has to flip them face down again and the turn moves on to the next player.
  5. Players take turns until there are no more cards left in the grid.

Variations for Memory Game can also be played.  Instead of a player getting another turn if he makes a match, for example, you can move on to the next player. Or you can have children play in pairs.

Which of these three games would you enjoy playing the most?

  • Go Fish!
  • Bingo!
  • Memory Game
See results without voting

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Comments 36 comments

Teresa McGurk profile image

Teresa McGurk 7 years ago from The Other Bangor

great ideas, and great fun for kids. Bless ya for encouraging the kids to have fun learning.


Susan Ng profile image

Susan Ng 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Thanks, Teresa. Having fun while learning is actually part of our school philosophy. :)


Anne Yap 7 years ago

these are great ideas and concepts. i'll keep this in mind when andie starts to read. teaching kids nowadays really needs lots of research and effort, the conventional ways don't seem to be very effective on them anymore. hope you can share websites where we can learn more about teaching kids in non-conventional ways.


Susan Ng profile image

Susan Ng 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Hi, Anne. I haven't really been looking into websites, but I'll let you know if I come across some good ones. :) Andie is one year old, isn't he? I don't have any experience with kids that young. My students are around 3-6 years old. But I know there are reading readiness exercises that you can let Andie do as early as now. :)


Ambersky profile image

Ambersky 7 years ago from Brisbane

What a great idea wish I had such simple ideas when my kids were small


Susan Ng profile image

Susan Ng 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Wish our teachers had these ideas when WE were small, Ambersky. School would've been so much fun! :)


AshleyVictoria profile image

AshleyVictoria 7 years ago from Los Angeles

Bingo is such a clever way to teach reading! I think gaming with children to learn is a great way to help kids focus - learning is fun, kids just don't know that! Games definitely bring the fun out in learning.


Susan Ng profile image

Susan Ng 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

You are so right, Ashley. :) Learning is indeed fun. The old, traditional methods of teaching just sucked the fun right out of learning. :O


Charia Samher profile image

Charia Samher 7 years ago

I found this very helpful teacher Susan, especially that my baby is turning 3 this year. I've started teaching her numbers and stuff as early as 1. At the age of 1 1/2 she already knows how to recite numbers 1-10. She learns to read though at age 2, but only the numbers and the alphabet. My only problem is how to teach her the colors, she gets confused when it comes to the colors, she easily learns all kinds of shapes but with colors she hardly remembers. Maybe you can give me some tips for that or maybe you can make another hub for that. =)


Susan Ng profile image

Susan Ng 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Hi, Charia! Wow, congratulations on surviving the terrible twos! Hehe. :) Hmm... another hub, you say... Hah! :D I may give it a shot, but my specialty is teaching reading. :) Among all the subjects, I particularly like teaching reading and science. :)


Charia Samher profile image

Charia Samher 7 years ago

Thanks, but she's still 2 as of the moment. lol! I'll be looking forward in your next hub! =)


nms profile image

nms 7 years ago from Cochin

nice way to teach


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Hi Teacher Su, I enjoyed reading this hub.  The instructions are very clear and easy to understand.  I am glad you shared this here.  We know how games make reading fun for kids of all ages.  :-) 


Susan Ng profile image

Susan Ng 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Hi, Teacher Michelle. :) Games really do make reading fun for the kids. Games also make reading fun for the teacher! :D


Lucey Knight profile image

Lucey Knight 7 years ago from North Richland Hills, Texas

What a wonderful way to make learning fun!


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 7 years ago from malang-indonesia

this is a different way for teaching. I am a teacher also. But I foun this tip from your hub. thanks


Susan Ng profile image

Susan Ng 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Thanks, Lucey and prasetio. :)


badcompany99 7 years ago

I like Bingo teacher, can I take a seat at the back of the class Miss ; )


Guardian1 profile image

Guardian1 7 years ago

Great ideas/teaching tips. Most young kids kind of shut off their minds when they are confronted with a rigid teaching method. Fun is always better.


Susan Ng profile image

Susan Ng 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Not unless you're four years old, BadCo! Haha! :P  And you're so right, Guardian1.  It's always better to incorporate fun into learning. :) 

I remember a student who would groan and complain whenever I let her do subtraction drills, so I took her to the playground, let her climb to the top of the slide and told her she could slide down everytime she got an answer right.  I flashed the subtraction cards and she answered them all like she was having the time of her life! :)


badcompany99 7 years ago

Mentally I am 4 lol, have a great weekend my little star and I haven't forgotten that hub, twil prob be posted later tonight near 10pm uk time which is exactly about 10 hours from now, enjoy yer weekend ; )


Susan Ng profile image

Susan Ng 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

In that case, you can take a seat in my class, BadCo. Haha! :P I'm looking forward to a slice or two of that hub! :D Ten hours from now will be Saturday morning for me. :) Thanks, and you have a great weekend, too. :)


MSmithHub 7 years ago

Great idea. I have something different to play with my kids this weekend.


Susan Ng profile image

Susan Ng 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Let me know how your kids like it, MSmithHub. :)


Pearldiver profile image

Pearldiver 7 years ago from Tomorrow - In Words & NZ Time.

Susan you are a great teacher which shines through these fun exercises. You must get 100% of the little ones really involved, just on the fun aspect alone. I think that after reading this hub (with my finger lol) I am ready to apply for a Fish position within your next intake. Lovely Hub Susan, great wisdom.


Susan Ng profile image

Susan Ng 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Thanks, Pearldiver. :) I don't know about being a great teacher though, I do have a tendency to push my students a little too hard. I have to consciously remind myself that it's okay if they don't become geniuses. Hehe. :)


Kya profile image

Kya 7 years ago

Thanks for the ideas, I will try them out with my kids - although I wish more teachers would do games like these over here instead of making the kids copy texts.


Susan Ng profile image

Susan Ng 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

You're welcome, Kya. :) And I agree with you 100% :)


bspider profile image

bspider 7 years ago

I'm passionate about teaching math to kids, and have been working on some ideas on how to achieve this via games. This hub was very helpful and informative, thanks.


Susan Ng profile image

Susan Ng 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

That's very good to hear, bspider. Keep up the good work. :)


dayzeebee profile image

dayzeebee 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Thumbs up teacher Susan. Now get ready to play the games I've prepared for all of you this October! Can't wait to see more of that excited child in you to get into the groove of things.LOL. Blessings:)


Susan Ng profile image

Susan Ng 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Ooh, games! Hehe. :D Thanks, Teacher Daisy. :)


shellyakins profile image

shellyakins 6 years ago from Illinois

These are great ideas. I am looking for ways to teach my 4 year-old sight words. He loves to play games and these seem easy to do and make.


Emma Beth profile image

Emma Beth 5 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

Really nice ideas that I am sure the kdis will love. I like also that these are economic and you can make them yourself without spending loads of money. thanks.


Katie 4 years ago

You can get a really nice phonics flash card set at http://www.brodenbooks.com. They are large enough for classroom use and are quite sturdy. You can also download and print a free version of the flash cards. The free ones are smaller, and of course they will only be on your printer paper, but you can at least see what they are in advance. This site also has free alphabet writing practice pages, which are easy for preschool kids, as the letters are written in light grey print that the kids can trace, and they are quite large, maybe an inch tall. My kids love tracing they letters, even though they are not yet coordinated enough to write without tracing. They are really proud that they are doing it themselves.


Greg Horlacher profile image

Greg Horlacher 4 years ago from Grand Prairie, TX

Hooray for this hub! Please send this hub to all corners of the world because this hub would help alleviate so many educational problems!

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