Surprisingly Easy Reading Games for Kids

Reading Games for Kids

It can be challenging to get reluctant readers the practice they need. Reading games for kids are a fun way to practice together through play; just watch the resistance slip away when beans or a simple scavenger hunt are involved.

Give new readers a skills-building boost with these easy word-building and reading games that can be played pretty much anywhere.

Word Card Games

Need: index cards

The words that kids find most interesting may not be the ones they find in their books. Help kids connect reading to the parts of their world they love most with reading games for kids that use their very favorite words.

Get ten index cards and invite your child to write one favorite word on each card. You might have your child write words for 10 favorite toys, favorite foods, or favorite things to do. If a holiday is coming up, help your child write 10 words that have to do with that holiday.

You might be surprised at just how motivating this simple act of writing favorite words can be. Seeing their favorite things in print and being able to read those words is very exciting. But for some real fun, use the word cards in these easy reading games for kids.

  • Find It Scavenger Hunt: Pick a card and try to find the matching object somewhere in the house. Or take the cards with you to the store or on a walk around the neighborhood. Holiday words can be especially easy to find; angels or Santa are everywhere in December.
  • Reading Scavenger Hunt: Spread out the cards and give your child clues of words to find. Find all the words that start with 'm'. Find a word that rhymes with 'hat'. Find two words you can use together in a sentence. Give a point for each word.
  • Match Game: Choose 10 favorite word cards. Get ten more blank index cards. For each word card, have your child either draw a picture of the word or copy the word again onto a second card. Turn all the cards face down and play a memory game. Choose two cards; if they match, keep them both and go again.

Letter Bean Games

Need: light-colored, dry beans (such as lima beans) and a permanent marker

To prepare the beans, write one letter on each bean, plus a few extra vowels. Kids will be eager to help. They don't take long to make, and once you have them, they can be used over and over in hands-on reading games for kids.

  • Word Scoop: Give kids a large spoon to scoop out a spoonful of letters. How many words can kids make with those letters? Give a point for each word. (You can also choose to keep vowels separate. Have kids scoop out the consonants and use all the vowels they want.)
  • Bean Spell: Have kids spell different things using the bean letters. Use the beans to spell your name. Spell 'top'. Spell something that rhymes with 'bee'. Each new word gets 5 points.

Any Book Reading Games

Need: a favorite book, at (or slightly above) child's reading level

Sometimes a favorite book gets read so many times that it starts to feel just a tiny bit stale. Next time you are reading together, add some spice and boost the learning with these easy games.

  • I Spy: I spy a word that has 5 letters and starts with P. I spy a word that is a kind of animal. I spy a word that means, 'excited'. I spy two words on the page that rhyme.
  • Rhyming Game: Scan the page for a word you can easily rhyme. Ask your child, What word on this page rhymes with (rock)? Challenge your child to find rhyming words on each page.

Reading games for kids don't have to feel formal or official. Sometimes a timer, a challenge, or a small shift in focus is all you need to boost reading to the level of play.


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“Education is not preparation for life. Education is life itself. ”
~John Dewey