5 Reading Games to Motivate Your Readers

Games are fun and interactive. They help motivate students to become better readers. This post offers five unique game ideas for small group instruction.

Reading games keep kids motivated. I have not met a kid who doesn’t like to play them, so it makes sense to use reading games as learning tools in the classroom. Games are fun and interactive. They help motivate students to become better readers. These reading games can be used along with online games in addition to direct instruction and reading with varied texts for a balanced reading experience.

One of the first thoughts I have when it comes to classroom games is to take a well known game and modify it for my purpose. I often recycle gameboards and use my own task cards with them or make up the directions to fit the board. Candyland is a great example. How often do you find these at yard sales? Take the board and add word families to it. When the student lands on the spot, they create words using them. Have Scrabble tiles? Use them to add the total of words you form. Great math review and perfect for word building.

What about card games? Of course games like Concentration, Go Fish, Uno, and Old Maid can be modified to practice the skills we need. I really love these for word study in particular. I Have, Who Has is perfect for sightword work, and you can even print out the materials you need on one of my oldie, but goodie websites, Carl’s CornerCherry Carl now sells a game collection, but there are many games you can download.

Mind Reader, one of my reading games for vocabulary


Most of us keep a word wall in our classroom, and this game is easily done with nothing but oral clues and perhaps scrap paper. The teacher shares clues from broad to specific helping students identify words from the wall. This is perfect for reviewing vocabulary or word study pattern, and you can even use this idea for teaching your students to infer. Higher level thinking skills?  Check.


  • Identify a “secret” word from a random chapter or story.
  • Write that word on a piece of paper.
  • Give your students clue number one and allow think time.
  • Continue with clues 2-5.
  • The student who zeroes in on the correct word wins the round, and you could allow that student to select the next word.
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Reading games for review:

Get Out of Here


Get Out of Here is the perfect game for transition points for dismissing to lunch, recess, or to go home. You stand at the front of the line with your task cards or question cards targeting the skills you want to review. You can use this to review content information, but like Mind Reader, you can use it for word study too by giving clues about a selected word.

In order to get out of my classroom, the student needs to answer 2-3 questions correctly (or whatever you feel fits your time frame). If not, the student heads to the back of the line for another turn. Caution…watch that the same child isn’t always sent to the end. Gage the question difficulty to the student as those not answering still review the more challenging content.

Name 5 in 10


Have you played Scattergories? This is kind of the idea. Students play in teams to brainstorm five examples in 10 seconds. Making lists is a great way to review lots of concepts from math rules, to adjectives and word study patterns to content area facts. It’s fast paced, and again…everyone learns. You could even use it to review a class read aloud.


Divide into teams of 4-5 students of balanced level. Provide each with a pen or marker and paper. Have one student record answers for the team and one person be the spokes person to share answers. As you give the category to the students, you can have one team play at a time or compete against each other to reach 5 items first.

Games are fun and interactive. They help motivate students to become better readers. This post offers five unique game ideas for small group instruction.

Two Truths and One Lie


This fun icebreaker activity is perfect for the beginning of the year, but why not turn it into a review game for content you’ve taught. Have a test coming in science? Simply give two points that the group has learned and one fact that may or may not be a fact. Students can play in teams or the teacher could use this with small group instruction. You might even use this idea with math…which problem isn’t equal to 24. How about word study again? Which two words follow the CVCE pattern? price, chance, or stripe? Lots of options with this idea.


The teacher would need to do some prep for this one unless you’re quick on your feet. (I’d recommend having a long list of questions ready to go. There’s nothing like dead silence to kill a lesson.) With questions in hand, divide into your teams. Give out a recording sheet for responses and perhaps scratch paper if you are using this in math. Allow a predetermined chunk of time to respond, and decide whether another team will have a chance to “steal” the point. Winner has the most correct answers of course.

Using games can be very motivating, and when students are motivated and having fun, they can be learning too. In the comments, I’d love to hear what games you’ve tried.


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.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Love these ideas. I'll be using a couple of them when I teach our students visiting from China in a couple of weeks. They're learning how to become better speakers of conversational English and these games will be perfect for comprehension! Thank you.

  2. Absolutely a great way for ELL students to work through language. Talk in any form is so great for working out misunderstandings and learning from each other. Thanks for sharing!

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