We played a game at our Reading Circle last week that went really, really well. So I thought I'd share it, and some of the other ones we've done over the year, with you.
I suppose I will start by stating literacy - and getting kids excited about literacy and reading - isn't just about reading books. So we try to help the kids who come to the circle improve their skills not only by reading with them and/or to them - which IS what we do for a large portion of the time, but also by doing writing exercises with them and by playing games.
We have some standard ones we use at the Reading Circle - lots of flashcard games. We have Go Fish cards with the alphabet on them which is a favorite - even for the kids who are already pretty clear on the ABC's. Then we have cards that work on rhymes which match together in sets of three rhyming words which then form a funny picture (eg: a goat who floats in a boat). The pictures also serve as clues for the younger or less advanced kids who cannot necessarily read the words yet.
Then we have silly sentences. This is a pack of flash cards containing verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions etc... The concept is similar to Mad Libs and the kids form silly sentences (ie: Short giraffes jump and play with penguins).
Our new game (courtesy of super-star volunteer Jessica) was based on this game. She made a series of flash cards with animal words on them and then further divided those words, generally by syllables ("pen" and "guin", "ti" and ger" etc...). Then she had conjunction, verb and adjective cards. We hid the cards all over the room. The kids then had to run and find them all and put them in a pile in the middle. This in itself was fun for them because a lot of them are quite active and after sitting and reading with their tutor for half an hour they enjoyed the chance to run around.
Once they had found all the cards they first had to assemble the animal cards. They were quite good at this part (once we explained that there was no such animal as a guin-pen and realized that someone's coat was on the "ger" of "tiger"). Once that was done they then made silly sentences with the animal cards and the other cards. All in all the game took about 20 minutes and was a lot of fun. It taught them new words, touched on issues like syllables and the need to sound out and assemble different words, and then taught about different types of words (ie: what type of penguin is it - you need a "describing" word. The penguin needs to do something, you need an "action" word etc...)
We are always looking for more game suggestions for cicle, so if you have some, please let us know. Some of our other favorites are:
1. Making Sentences Race - modification of the above concept. We compose a sentence of about 8-10 words and then put the words on individual flash cards and hide them around the room. If we do it in teams we'll have two different sentences on different colour flash cards. The kids find all the flash cards and assemble the sentences. Useful for teaching vocab and sentence structure.
2. Body Parts Game - I have various body parts on flash cards (hair, knee, shoulder, arm, leg, nose etc....) One volunteer acts as a, well, volunteer. Children pick a flashcard and have to read the word and then stick it on the right part. Everyone has fun and its good for learning that specific set of words. And really, anything involving tape, index cards and sticking things on someone else's nose is fun)
3. Concentration - set up word flash cards in sets of two face down. Children turn over two cards. If they have a match they have to use the word in a sentence and then they can keep the cards. If they don't have a match, they turn the cards back down. This continues until there are no more cards. Child with the most cards at the end is the winner.
4. Charades - we have Actions and Things on cards. The concepts vary in complexity so we have stuff as simple as "cat" and some more complicated ones like "making a cake". Each child is assigned a card and must act it out for the group. Their tutor can help them if they cannot read the word. Lots of fun and the kids really get into it. I still laugh when I think of one of them acting out a chicken. It was very authentic!
We also have other game suggestions here and I am thinking of possibly investing in Jr. Pictionary which we use to use at another program I volunteered with, and possibly twister. I'm thinking the last one may come in handy from an "active game" perspective and I can someone put words, letters or syllables on the colours and make a literacy game out of that.
Cheers for now!