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Reading Games and Teaching Tips from DORBOOKS

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Dorbooks Reading Games (excerpted from Phonics Pathways, © 2005 Dolores G. Hiskes): Sometimes reading a whole page of lessons can be daunting to beginning readers. Why not break it up, and make it more fun? It's the same material, but in a different, more digestible format -- smaller, bite-sized pieces in a game format that can be so much more enjoyable to young learners!

1. ECHO (For short-vowel sounds)
Individual or Classroom:
Make a list of about 10 words that begin with the short-vowel sound you are working on, such as the "a" in "apple," using the picture words from the short "a" page. Sprinkle in about 5 words that do not begin with that sound, such as "rug," etc.

Mix the words up, and read them slowly with emphasis. Students should repeat the word if you say a word beginning with that sound, but put their hand over their mouth and say nothing if the word begins with another sound. Repeat this activity with the rest of the vowels as they are learned.

2. ALL IN A ROW (For short-vowel words)
Have five students stand in a row in front of the class, each one holding up a sheet of paper with a very large vowel written on it. Read words containing random short-vowel sounds, each time choosing a student to go up and stand by the person holding the correct vowel and say the vowel sound.

Individual or Classroom:
(a) Write the vowels horizontally in large letters on a chalkboard, and have your student point to the correct letter and repeat the sound.

(b) Make a master sheet with large vowels on top and vertical lines separating each one, and have your student write the letter in the correct column after you say the sound.

Everyone opens their book and reads the same page. Walk around with a portable microphone, and choose a student randomly to read out loud into the microphone. All students should follow along, reading silently and running their finger under the word/sentence being read. Each one must be ready to be "on the air," as nobody knows who will be chosen next!

Use the computer to make little word, phrase, or sentence strips taken from the page you are working on. Cut them out, fold them in two and put them in an empty kleenex box. Divide the class into two groups. Students take turns reaching in the box, catching a "fish" and reading it. The first group to finish wins the fishing marathon!

Use the computer to make little word, phrase, or sentence strips taken from that page. Cut them out, fold each one, and put them into a *Reading Box* for your young learner to pick out himself, open, and read one at a time. It's just what many students need! They enjoy being *in control,* fishing them out of the box, and reading them one by one, all by themselves.

Put 8 "lifeboats" (carpet-squares, towels, etc.) on the floor in a row. Eight students march around them while you read a variety of words, most of which contain the sound you are working on but some of which do not. When you read a word not having that sound they must sit on or touch a lifeboat. Remove one lifeboat each time. Students must share the dwindling supply until only one lifeboat is left. (Make sure it is the biggest one!)

Student "swims" (read "marches") around and around a "lifeboat" (see above) while you read words which contain the sound you are working on. When you read a word that does not, he must sit down as quickly as he can in the lifeboat before it drifts away!

Put 9 chairs in a row, every other one facing backwards. Eight students circle the chairs while you read a variety of words, most of which contain the sound you are working on but some of which do not. When you read a word not having that sound the students scramble to sit down. The student left standing goes back to his seat. Remove a chair and keep playing until only one student is left.

Copy the page you are working on, cut the words, phrases, or sentences into equal sizes, and fold them up. Hide them around the room, and see who can find the most "treasures!" They must read each note as it is found. (This could also be played with two teams, depending on the classroom setup and number of students.)

For individual use, another way to play it is have one note lead to another. Write the word/phrase/sentence down, fold the paper in half, and on one side of the folded half write a clue as to where the next note can be found, such as "On a bed," "In a pot," "On a desk," etc. Each clue leads to the next one. (Having some kind of treat at the very end is always a great motivator!)

Our family loves Treasure Hunts! We do it for birthdays and other special days with a gift at the other end. The pleasure our family derives from this activity is greater each time a birthday or holiday rolls around and we have our special Treasure Hunt--adults included!

(Since our two grandchildren had different reading abilities when younger, these clues were written for obviously varying reading levels. The simpler clues were printed in much larger letters, and were used by our fledgling reader, who was just beginning to read three-letter words and simple sentences. The other clues were read by her older brother. At this point in time both of them can read almost anything, so the clues naturally are far more complex.)

Make sure that one note always leads to the next one! Numbering them can help. Mix or match as desired, use as many or few as desired. Make up your own clues. Happy hunting!

Click here to read some sample clues to get you started on your Treasure Hunt!

Teaching reading is really very simple - anyone can teach it,
and everyone can learn!