Games and Activities to Help Reading and Phonics
Toy sounds – When your child is playing with their toys encourage them to make the right sounds. Farm animals, train sets, vehicles, dolls etc are great for this. Help your child to notice these sounds around and about.
Tap it out – Make a shaker or use drums (pots and pans and wooden spoons are perfect) to play along with songs, rhymes and the radio. Try making the loudest sounds that you can then the quietest sounds that you can. Tap out simple rhythms. Can your child repeat the rhythm back to you?
Song time- Sing your child’s favourite songs, ones they have learnt at school, songs you remember from childhood or songs on CDs you have at home. Encourage children to use their bodies to make sounds to go along with their singing – stamping, clapping, patting knees etc.
Sound effects- Read stories and encourage children to make sound effects with their body – stomping, knocking, clapping, scratching etc.
Rhyming books - When children are really familiar with a particular book, try pausing before the rhyming word. Encourage your child to fill in the missing word.
Clap it out- Encourage children to think about the rhythms in words. Say simple nursery rhymes and clap along with one clap for each syllable. Repeat with knee taps, head pats or stamps.
Quick draw - When drawing together, try drawing a snake and a sock. Point out that these things both begin with a 's' sound. Make the hissing s sound. Add some more 's' pictures e.g. snail, spider etc. Your child may be able to suggest some ideas as well.
Pulling faces - Play around with moving your mouth in different ways e.g waggling your tongue, opening as wide as possible, smiling wide, frowning, blowing lips etc. You may want to do this to music or it can be a fun bath time game. Make a range of sounds e.g oo, ee, sh, th. Exaggerate your mouth shape while you are doing this to encourage your child to copy your mouth shape. It can be fun to do this while you are both looking in a mirror.
Reception and KS1
Robot talk - Words are made up from sounds and children need to be able to hear these sounds individually. Sometimes when you are playing you can say words as if you were a robot (saying the sounds separately) and see if your child can work out what you are saying. Stick to short simple words that only have a few sounds in them. Make sure you are saying the letter sounds (p-i-g) not the letter names (pee-eye-gee).
- Pass that p-i-g to me.
- Sit d-ow-n.
- Point to your t-ee-th.
- Hop like a f-r-o-g.
As your child becomes familiar with this robot talking, see if they can say words in robot talk themselves?
I spy – Say the rhyme ‘I spy with my little eye something beginning with ______’ allow your child plenty of opportunities to guess what you have chosen, for example, ‘something beginning with t’ could be a tree, toy, tent or train. Try using the sound instead of a letter, for example “I spy with my little eye, something beginning with ch”
Point out text everywhere - Talk about the written words you see in the world around you. Ask your child to find familiar words on each outing such as ‘McDonalds’, ‘Coke’ or ‘Asda’.
Playing with words – Encourage your child to sound out the word as you change it from mat to fat to sat; from sat to sag to sap; and from sap to sip. Try using made up words too!
Letter sound Bingo/Noughts and Crosses
You will need:
- 3x3 grid for each player
- counters or coins
Write some letters into the spaces on each card, making each card slightly different. The ‘bingo caller’ says each letter in turn and the players cover the letter up. The winner is first to fill their board. To make this game easier for new readers, show them the letter for them to match. You could make it more challenging by using tricky words from your child’s reading book.
Matching pairs/Snap – Choose several words your child is learning to read. Write each word twice on separate pieces of paper/card so you can search for a matching pair. Turn all the cards face down on the table and take turns to turn over two. When a matching pair is found that player can keep them. The winner is the person with the most pairs at the end of the game. You can use the same cards to play other games like snap.
Be your child's #1 fan - Ask your child to read aloud what he or she has written at school or for their homework. Be an enthusiastic listener.
Create a book together - Fold pieces of paper in half and staple them to make a book. Ask your child to write sentences on each page and add his or her own illustrations.
Make up stories on the go - Take turns adding to a story the two of you make up while in the car or bus. Try making the story funny or spooky.
Stop, Banana! – Write out tricky words onto separate cards. Draw a banana on another card. Shuffle the pack and ask your child to guess how many words they will be able to read before the banana comes out. Keep trying to beat the record!
Secret Letter – Children cut out words from newspapers or magazines to write a new message. This encourages them to notice key words in non-fiction texts and develops sentence building.
Quiz – Write 5 questions which can be answered using a newspaper/magazine/non-fiction text. Challenge your child to find the answer to win a prize. Turn it around and challenge children to write 5 questions they think you will never know the answer to from the same texts.
Crossword - Give children crosswords to solve. This encourage children to think about the meanings of words and the contexts they can be used in.
Google it! – When reading, find a word that the children are unsure of the meaning of. Children then Google the word to find the meaning.