Activity, Games

Kid Designed Reading Games

reading game, OG, phonics

I’ve made a lot of reading games over the years, and for the most part, my students love them. But by far, the most popular games are the ones the students create themselves.

This is always a hit. I try to add game making to at least one class with most students and groups I work with. It works well with ages 4-9 (ish). Even the grumpiest, least cooperative student gets enthusiastic during this lesson.

There are free game cards to download at the end of this post!

Before We Begin!

For this activity, we need to go old school. We don’t use any clip art, digital paper, or pretty fonts. I pull out samples of simple path games that I made prior to the digital age.


Some of these we still use so the students will be familiar with them.

We talk about the sorts of things they enjoy in a board game. This usually involves shortcuts, free spaces, and traps!

We talk about the ways to create a path. I suggest that stickers, bingo daubers, and cut outs are all good for spaces.

I remind them that this will be a READING game. I will provide game cards with words of the type they are currently working on.

Make It!

I give each student a colored file folder and a pencil. If the folder has a store name stamped on it, I suggest they turn it so that they have the blank side to work with. I ask that they draw a start and finish lightly on the file folder and then a path between the two. Emphasize that they should draw this lightly because it is only a guide, not the actual path!

THEN I put out dot stickers, other stickers, markers, gel pens, crayons, bingo daubers, scrapbook paper, glue, cut outs from magazines (I collect them and save them for this project!). Superhero stickers or stickers with favorite characters are always very popular.

I let them go to town and use whatever they would like to create their game.




Some kids will get into the decorating, others will focus on gameplay. In my experience, all will be engaged!

I let each student pick some playing pieces. Mini erasers are good for this. Four per student is usually plenty. I remind them that the playing pieces should all be different. I have them put the pieces in a snack sized baggie with a die. The game, the pieces and die, and several sheets of uncut cards all go home.  They can cut the cards apart at home. They often need to finish the game at home.

Bam! One of the favorite lessons of the term.

Play it!


If I can’t make time for game making during lesson time, I will sometimes assign it for homework. I give the student a “game making kit” with a file folder, stickers, the word cards, and scraps of pretty paper. I invite them to bring the game back to show me next lesson. Unlike other homework, this almost always gets done. I’ve received lots of emails from parents talking about home much the kiddos enjoy it.

Kids love making up rules and teaching others how to play their game. Each time they play, they are practicing their reading.

I end each lesson with a game. Some kids will want to bring their game back each lesson to play. I always oblige!

Some games will need to be tweaked in order to work. I find that if done gently with great enthusiasm for their creativity, my students will let me make any alterations to the gameplay needed to make it work.


I’ve had parents email me photos of new games that their kids have designed months after we make one together.

Here are some free game cards in case you’d like to try making a game with your kiddos! They are all Silent e one syllable words.

Free >>>>>>game cards silent e


Special thanks to Snapshots by Amy for the photo in the heading.


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