Reading Game

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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There are all sorts of reading games on the market that are meant to entice young ones to read. Historically, these have been "bricks-and-mortar" diversions such as board games and "matching" exercises designed to link words with definitions. In their updated formats, however, these more often take the shape of computer games and interactive DVDs, which is fine, so long as they hold your youngsters' interest.

For beginning students, namely kindergarteners and first-graders, rhyming games are especially popular. These activities help children establish connections between phonemes, which are the basis for a phonetic approach to reading. The beauty of these reading games is that they work "inductively," which is to say they use specific examples that lead to more general concepts. This is one way in which children learn rules of grammar and spelling.

An Example of an Inductive Reading Game

Say you're teaching your child about long and short vowel sounds. You may try to impress upon him or her that an "ending" E makes a short vowel sound turn long, especially when it comes to "CVC" (or consonant-vowel-consonant) words. Examples include "mat" becoming "mate" and "rat" becoming "rate." Expressing the rule this way, however, is unlikely to make it "sticky" for your youngster. Enter reading games.

Now say that your child is playing a video game that rewards his or her correct answer choices from lists of possible solutions. After a while, the rule will become automatic and almost intuitive for that child so that, faced with a similar problem, he or she will have no trouble selecting the appropriate answer. He or she may not be able to articulate the rule the game's attempting to teach, but the lesson will have been learned nonetheless and may now be applied the next time he or she picks up a book.

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