How to Use Reading Games to Teach Critical Skills in a Fun Way

We all know that time is critical, and playing games is probably frowned upon UNLESS you have a learning target in mind. In fact, reading games are one engaging way to keep your students actively learning and interested. We have so many commercial options available, and you do not have to look far for many great options that will match any learning target you have.

Using Special Holiday Themed Games

Did you know that November 19th is National Monopoly Day?  Imagine how excited your students be if you told them they could play monopoly during your reading block.

Now games all day may not work, but you know what the response would be. The children would be in heaven, and even though they may not realize it, they’d learn a lot. Capitalizing on these special holidays can make teaching reading fun and can make an ordinary game timely and unique.

Book Titles about Games

Reading games are great fun for students, and they're an effective way to teach critical skills. This post offers teaching ideas for a gaming theme.

The core of any theme is literature (in my opinion), and with a game theme, believe it or not, there are great books you could select. Believe it or not, you can go in lots of directions with a game theme. If you want to include sports fiction or biographies, that greatly increases the options too. Here are a few favorites of mine:

Jumanji and Zanthura by Chris VanAllsburg

The first book series I just love is Jumanji and Zanthura by Chris Van Allsburg. VanAllsburg has such a wonderful way of building an engaging plot with such detail that the reader can truly make a mental “movie” of them. Jumanji has already been made into a movie, and Zanthura is equally engaging.

If you follow my blog, then you probably know how much I love using mentor texts, and Jumanji is a great one for teaching inferences and more. In this unit, students analyze the author’s craft and use that learning to apply the ideas to their own writing.  You can check it out by clicking the image to the right.

Teammates by Tiki Barber

I also love the biography, Teammates. This is a great choice for fourth and fifth grade, especially if you study the Civil Rights Movement. It tells the story of Jackie Robinson’s rise in baseball and how Pee Wee Reese took a stand for him. One of my students last year shared that he enjoyed Tiki Barber’s book, Teammates too.

Additional Titles

If you are using a game theme for younger readers, Julia Cook’s book, It’s Just a Game is a great choice to work on playing fair, losing with grace, and winning with kindness. Other books you might enjoy with primary students include Play Ball Amelia BedeliaHenry and Mudge and the Sneaky CrackersClifford’s Sports DayThe Berenstain Bears Play a Good Game, and Bat’s Big Game.

Teaching Skills with Reading Games

I couldn’t write a game themed post without sharing game ideas. I’ve been building this Pinterest board to have them all in one place.

free games you might like to try:

As I pinned and previewed ideas on TPT, I found a few favorite games I’d like to highlight.

The first game comes from my friend, Michaela at The Reading Royalty. Her I Have…Who has?? is a print and go set. (who doesn’t like those??).  Card games and board games work so well for checking understanding and for formative assessments.

Another great option I loved was this rhyming folder activity. It is self checking and would work wonderfully in small groups as practice for your kinders or for the firsties who still struggle with rhyming. To step it up a notch, you might pair your students and have them generate a list of other rhyming words that would go with the pair.

The third game that I am sharing comes from Melissa Mazur. I LOVE anything Melissa makes, especially her Close Reading sets and her reading comprehension set, so when I saw this freebie, I knew it would be a great one to recommend to my readers. It’s another print and go set that will serve you well.

I know there will be many more favorites added below, and certainly, the Game Time Fun board will be growing.

Web Based Reading Games

With games, we can not complete a post without mentioning great apps and websites. This summer, I blogged about my favorite reading websites. Some of the sites had game options, so you might want to revisit [that post] for web ideas.

ABCYa has many options for your kids. All options are sorted by grade level and range from letter recognition and rhyme up to parts of speech, vocabulary, and more. It includes other subject matter too, so be sure to check out the options for math as well.

There are two free apps for the Ipad my friend, Jennifer at Stories and Songs in Second recommended. She’s used Sight Word Ninjas and Word Bingo. You might check these out at in the Itunes Store.

I think this looks like a very promising site. It is free on the computer and is $4.99 on the Ipad. For beginning readers, I think it’s be a hit. It’s kid friendly in appearance and yet looks solid on content.

Reading games are great fun for students, and they're an effective way to teach critical skills. This post offers teaching ideas for a gaming theme.

Room Recess

Room Recess was a new one to me. I liked that it offers games for upper elementary. It includes games for cause/effect, drawing conclusions, main idea, and more. It may or may not fit your needs, but it’s worth a look.

Pete’s Powerpoint Station

Sometimes we need a way to demonstrate a skill or a way to practice whole group, and this collection of powerpoint activities might be helpful. The site is called Pete’s Power Point Station. It has presentations categorized by topic as well as themes that you’ll love.

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Carla is a licensed reading specialist with 27 years of experience in the regular classroom (grades 1, 4, and 5), in Title 1 reading, as a tech specialists, and a literacy coach. She has a passion for literacy instruction and meeting the needs of the individual learner.