It's one of those odd facts of life, but first graders love the ridiculous! Silly language games are just what you need to tickle kids' funny bones while (secretly) teaching them valuable language and reading skills.
The best thing about using games to practice language is that it can happen literally anywhere. The only materials you will need are already around you. And once you tap into kids' silly language selves, you will have your hands full getting them to STOP playing these games!
Look around the room and find 6 or 7 small objects. Since these will be used to tell a story, try to get an interesting variety: a flower, a plastic dog, a tea bag, a toothbrush... you get the idea. Put the objects into a paper bag.
Start a story any way you like. Pull out one of the objects and use it in your story. For example:
Once upon a time there
was a little boy who was 6 years old. You pull the flower out of the bag.
He found a magic flower that that would
give him three wishes.
Pass the bag to your child. He pulls out another object from the bag and tells a few more sentences of the story. Continue like this until all the objects are gone. (Tip: Kids at this age love silly, ridiculous, or magical stories, so feel free to ham it up!)
Some language games are perfect for waiting in line, or on a long car ride. This is one of them. Tell your child you want to play a
rhyming game. You will pick a simple word to rhyme, such as
I'll marry my cat! Your child then has to think of a
rhyming word to put in that sentence:
I'll marry my hat, or
I'll marry my rat! When a person can't think of any other rhyming
words, switch to a different group of rhyming words.
Note: Your sentences do not have to make sense! First graders will love language games that border on the
ridiculous. If the silliness gets to be too much for your adult self, get a competition going between your child and a friend. You can
also mix it up with other rhyming word sentences:
I can eat a (house),
I love my (pig), and so on.
Think of a phrase, or find one in a book that you like. For example,
strawberry bubble gum has an interesting rhythm to it.
Tell your child to say it loud. Say it in a whisper. Say it with eyes closed. Say it with lips closed (just do the rhythm). Say it
like a cow (moo moomoo moomoomoo) or like a snake (sss ss ss ss ss ss).
When you have played with that phrase for a while, pick a new one.
Tell your child,
I took a field trip to the BEACH and I brought a BROOM. Why would you bring a broom to the beach? Because
they both start with 'b'! Have your child say the sentence,
I took a field trip to the beach and I brought a ---. After a
couple of turns, change the location. Take a field trip to the mountains, the desert, a tree, a house, the forest, etc. and think of
things with the same letter.
Categorizing is an important language skill. Sorting and classifying train children to think in terms of groups and patterns, a skill that they will need in math, reading, science, etc. Give kids practice putting things in order with these sorting and categorizing activities:
Now that you have gotten your feet wet with a few language games, you'll probably think of more on your own. Language games come in many types, but in general if it facilitates word play, creative thinking, or storytelling, it's got to be good.
You will also want to be sure to try out our games to teach reading for practice with more targeted reading skills.