My kids love games! A lot of times when we are out and about or even at home, I make up games to sneak in some extra time to work on early literacy skills. Early literacy skills refers to what children know about reading and writing before they learn to read or write. Today I’m sharing 7 games we play that promote early literacy skills. The games I’m sharing here focus on letter knowledge and phonological awareness.
1. Rhyme Machine
My oldest (who is 5) is super into rhyming these days. Since rhyming is such an important skill to master for reading, I love playing Rhyme Machine with him. There’s no actual machine in this game, but we pretend to put a word into the ‘machine’ and then we try to think of as many words that rhyme with that word. Some are jibberish words, but that’s okay! It’s still rhyming and listening to the sounds in a word. Here’s an example how how the game is played.
Me: “Troy, what word do you want to put in the rhyme machine today?”
Troy: “Let’s put in ‘kite’!”
Me: “Okay, let’s see…kite rhymes with might! Your turn!”
Troy: “Sight. Right. Tight.”
And we keep doing this until we can’t think of any more words. It’s such a simple game, but my son loves it! He’s even got little brother to play and he loves to correct his brother when he doesn’t say a rhyming word. 🙂
2. Syllable Count
Another reading skill that’s important for kids to know is counting syllables, or the parts of a word. This game is similar to the Rhyme Machine. We just shout out a word and then clap and count the syllables. We look around the room and find objects and find the syllables. Here’s an example:
Me: “Troy, find something in the room to count syllables.”
Troy: “Okay, how about couch! (he claps while he says the word) 1! Couch has 1 syllable.”
Me: “Awesome! Now can you find something in the room that has 2 syllables?”
Troy: “How about ‘lamp’? (claps out lamp) Nope. That’s just 1. Let me try ‘table’. (claps out table) Yes! Table has 2 syllables!”
3. What Do You Hear?
Hearing the beginning sounds of words is another important literacy skill. One way we practice this is with a game we call “What Do You Hear?” To play this game, I say a word and then the kids tell me what letter the word starts with. Here’s an example:
Me: “What does the word ‘ball’ start with?”
Boys: “B-b-b B!”
Me: “Yes! Ball starts with ‘b’!
4. Find the Word
For this game, I ask the kids to think of a word that starts with an alphabet letter. For example, I’ll say “Find a word that starts with /g/ sound.” Then they start guessing words. Usually it takes just one or two tries to come up with the word. Vowels and r-controlled words are much harder!
5. What Comes After…
For this game, I say a letter of the alphabet and ask my kids what letter comes next. It’s such a simple game, but it really helps my kid with knowing the order of the alphabet.
6. Alphabet Search
A lot of times when we are driving, we play this alphabet search. I will ask the kids to search for a letter of the alphabet. Whoever finds the letter gets to choose the next letter to find.
7. Rhyming Sentence
Another way we practice rhyming is with rhyming sentences. I’ll start the sentence and have my kids fill in the blank. Here’s an example:
Me: “Can you fill in the blank? The cat went ____.”
Me: “The frog had a _____.”
Me: “A shoe is _____.”
As you can see, these games are quite simple. Practicing early literacy skills through these games will help your child as they begin to learn how to read!
Do you have any other games to add to this list?