The following is a post from contributing writer Kris Bales of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.
Games make learning fun. Having fun gets kids engaged and being engaged aids retention. During the preschool and early elementary years, we used games nearly every day. I particularly enjoyed being able to use games to teach reading. There are so many options and most of the games we played were easily adaptable to a wide variety of skill levels.
Bingo is probably the game we used most often. It’s simple to create custom game boards using the table feature available in most word processing programs. Bingo is great for:
- Letter recognition – You can call out the letter or the letter sound for the child to find on her bingo board or you can show a picture of the uppercase letter and have kids find the lowercase.
- Sight Words
- Word families (cat, mat, sat, fat, etc.)
- Prefixes and suffixes
- CVC words
We used to play lots of printable games from the site, Games to Make. Our absolute favorite was Crocodile Snap, followed closely by Space Mission. I wish Mama’s Learning Corner had been around when my kids were younger or that Jolanthe’s (Homeschool Creations) kids had been a little older than mine. Both of those sites have tons of great learning printables for kids.
Go Fish was another game we played a lot. I used printable sight word cards for fledgling readers and alphabet cards for little ones still practicing letter recognition. I’d print two sets and we’d shuffle them up and deal them out. Then, we’d just go around the table, playing with traditional Go Fish rules. Calling out words from your own hand of cards while playing Go Fish is a lot more fun than reading flash cards.
A slightly different version was actually “fishing” for words. I bought a couple of dowel rods, some round magnets, and string for homemade fishing poles. I’d put paper clips on our sight word cards and scatter them out in the floor. When the kids would “hook” a word, they would read it. If they couldn’t read it, I’d tell them what it was, but they’d have to throw it back and catch it again later.
Matching (also known as “memory” or “concentration”) is played by shuffling two sets of identical cards (lower- and uppercase alphabet cards, sight words, CVC words, etc.) and placing them face down on the table. Players turn over two cards each turn to try to find a match. If the two cards don’t match, they are returned to their face down position. If they do match, the player’s turn continues until he turns over two cards that don’t match.
Board games can be easily re-purposed to create learning games and they’re easily adaptable for a wide range of skill levels. We often turned games like Candy Land or Chutes and Ladders into reading games. The rules varied a bit depending on age and skill level. Sometimes the rules would be that each player had to read word for each space that his turn dictated he move. For example, if we were playing Candy Land and a player picked up a blue card, if he had to move four spaces to get to the next blue spot, he had to draw four word cards to read.
Other times, the rule would be one word (or letter) per turn. To easily adapt board games for different skill levels, you just need a set of cards (word or alphabet, for example) for each player. When my niece played with us during her preschool years, she would have ABC cards while my kids had word cards. That meant my niece would have to identify a letter or its sound, while my kids read the word on their cards.
Do you use games in your homeschool? What are some of your favorites?
Kris, who blogs at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers, offers dozens of tips for making learning fun in her e-book, Hands-On Learning. You can connect with Kris on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.
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