From the Arizona Republic, Feb. 27, 2005
Flash cards. Make or buy decks of flash cards with letters that commonly appear together such as “ay” or “ch” or “bl.” Quiz kids on the sounds that these letter combinations make. Ask children to come up with a word that contains this letter combination.
Which word doesn’t belong? Select two words that have the same initial sound and one word that does not have the same sound. Mix the three words. Say each word, emphasizing the initial sound of each word. Ask children to identify the words that have the same initial consonant sound and which word does not.
Letter bingo. Make bingo cards with letters instead of numbers. Say a word, asking children to think about what letter the word begins with, and cover that letter on their card. When child calls “Bingo,” have the child read back the letters and say at least one way the letter is pronounced.
Same or different. Give children two cards, one with the word “same” written on it and one with the word “different.” Then say two words, such as “pair” and “pain” or “pen” and “pen.” Children hold up the card that corresponds to whether the words are the same or different.
Hangman. Play hangman, giving hints such as the beginning letter or the ending letter of the word to help students guess the missing letters.
Word hopscotch. Put letters on the floor in a grid format using colored masking tape. Children hop across the board by jumping from letter to letter and saying the word that is created by the sequence. For example, put the letters “h,” “t,” “p” in the first row, “a,” “o,” “i,” in the second row and “t,” “p,” “m” in the third row. A child hopping from “h” to “o” to “t” spells “hot” aloud.
Magnetic board. Give students plastic magnetic letters and a magnetic board – the refrigerator works well – to practice spelling and forming words.
Go Fish. Write sight words (two of each word) on a deck of index cards and deal 5 or 6 cards to each of the players. Play the same way as Go Fish, with players asking each other if they have “the,” “have” or “with.” If the player being asked does not have such a card, he or she responds “Go fish!” and the child takes a card from the deck.
Word ladders. Ask children to make a “word ladder” as long as possible by changing the next word in line by just one letter. For example, the first word might be “fat.” Kids could first change the “t” to “r” to make the word “far.” They could then change the “f” to “t” to make the word “tar.” Keep going until the child runs out of words, or try to beat the clock by coming up with as many words in a given time.
Little words. Encourage children to examine words and identify the “little words” they find inside larger words. For example, “win” and “in” inside “window.”
Sentence construction. Write sentences on strips of paper, then cut the words apart. Mix up the pieces and have children put them back in the proper order. Or, give everyone a word from the sentence and have children line people up to recreate the sentence. This is a helpful strategy for non-English speakers who need to learn the syntax of the English language.
Storyboard. Cut comic strips from the newspaper or cut old picture books apart. Mix the frames and have children put the story back into proper order using syntax cues and story events. A “wordless story” can also be used, and children can be asked to write the narratives for each frame.
Sorting by patterns. Give children a stack of word cards with high-frequency words written on them. Ask them to sort the cards by patterns, such as words with long “a,” words with short “a,” words ending in the same suffix, and so forth.
Source: Threads of Reading: Strategies for Literacy Development by Karen Tankersley