5 Classroom Reading Games based on the Science of Reading


April 10, 2019

As s teacher, you confront a daily challenge to balance a pre-set curriculum for your little learners and a desire to make learning fun. Your students need to meet a certain set of standards, but you encounter that students easily lose interest if the lesson is not exciting and interactive. At Jett Publishing, we know how difficult it is to cater to the differing interest and skill levels of your students, and we applaud you for your efforts in teaching future generations. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of five classroom reading games and dyslexia activities designed to help get your students excited while focusing on the well-researched competencies of the science of reading, including:

  • Phonemic awareness
  • Phonics
  • Fluency
  • Vocabulary
  • Comprehension

Each of these activities is designed to strengthen the skills in each respective competency, allowing you to build a fun, interactive environment from which students learn how to read.

Phonemic awareness

Image source: https://icebreakerideas.com/circle-games/

Phonemic awareness is all about a child’s ability to recognize sounds within a spoken language. These sounds are known as phonemes - the smallest unit of spoken language - and allow students to understand rhymes, syllables, and letter sounds. Because phonemic awareness involves listening, rhyming, and syllables, there are a variety of games that can be played to help your students engage with the material.

A great listening that is popular in classrooms across the country is “Moo-Moo, where are you?” To play, have your students sit in a circle and choose one student to lie in the middle with their eyes closed. You then choose a child from the circle to go somewhere in the room and make an animal noise. The child lying in the middle must, with their eyes still closed, point to the direction in which the sound came from. Once they are correct, is it then that child’s turn to choose a spot in the room and make an animal noise while another child guesses where it comes from.

This activity helps children with listening skills by preparing them to listen closely to sounds in words. Though basic, listening skills help lay the foundation for more advanced listening skills.


When learning phonics, children are beginning to read written phonemes and graphemes and identify the sound that corresponds to this written language. Phonics is a core skill that children with dyslexia and other learning differences struggle with, making it a great focus when looking to incorporate more enrichment and dyslexia activities in the classroom.

Try out the sound relay race. Either divide your students into teams or allow them to work together, with each time lined up side by side one another. You stand at the beginning of each line and hand students flashcards with letters on them. Students follow down the line reading the letter sound to the person behind them and the last student in line then has to yell out a word that begins with that letter. If they are correct, that student moves to the front of the line and they continue until each student has yelled out a word. Once everyone has a turn, the team must sit down, and the first team to sit down wins!

This game is great for practicing the sounds that letters make and recognizing sounds in everyday words, which is a huge step for children learning to read.


teacher leading a class on fluency

Fluency is the skill related to children learning to recite written language as it is naturally spoken as opposed to the work broken down into graphemes.

A great way to practice fluency is with an activity called “Read the Room.” Rather than reading from a book, ask students to read the room and the signs that are in there. From instructions to motivational signs, students will get the chance to share their increasing fluency with their classmates. You can either select students at random, pick a volunteer, or assign a daily “room reader” that helps read important signs both inside and outside the classroom to others.

Reading to others is one of the most common ways of teaching reading fluency. By having students read both familiar and unfamiliar signs and instructions, they’ll be challenged to read new texts every day.


child drawing on easile
Image Source: https://gameonfamily.com/how-to-play-homemade-pictionary/

Building vocabulary is an ongoing process throughout life in which we learn new words, what they mean, and how to use them in sentences. Because learning vocabulary is an ongoing process, it’s important to note that there are a variety of different activities for learning vocabulary, many of which are more appropriate for certain age groups over others.

Great for all ages to practice vocabulary is a game of Pictionary. Students pick a vocabulary word from a hat and have 60 seconds to draw it and while their classmates guess the vocabulary word.

Pictionary is great because it forces children to decode the meaning of a word while others interpret the meaning and assign a word, making for two levels of vocabulary building and understanding.


beach ball with beginning

Reading comprehension is the key to understanding written language and involves the development of analytical skills and retelling. Students develop comprehension skills by learning what questions to ask and answer while reading a text.

A great comprehension game for early reading comprehension involves a game of Beach Ball. Using a Sharpie, write a variety of questions on the ball, including:

  • Who is the main character?
  • What happened at the beginning?
  • What happened at the end?
  • What was the conflict in the story?
  • What is the setting?
  • What was your favorite part?

Students throw the ball around the room and must answer the question that lands closest to their right hand when they catch it. Once correct, they get to throw the ball to the next student.

This game is not only fun and active, but allows students to retell and understand the story. Additionally, it fills in understanding gaps for other children playing the game.

Getting your students involves in reading games and dyslexia activities is key to creating a fun, lively classroom that is ready to read. Give your students the boost they need by choosing the Secret Codes curriculum from Jett Publishing, designed to give your students a boost and prevent reading failure.