PreK-K: Fun Games for ELA Lessons
Make reading class feel like recess with hands-on
activities for early learners.
- Grades: PreK–K
Standards Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.3a; RF.K.3b
What you need: Hopscotch mat or chalk, laminated letter cards, double-sided tape or poster putty
What to do: Use a playground favorite to teach letter sounds. Purchase a hopscotch mat or create one from an old window shade, sturdy plastic tablecloth, or shower curtain. Prepare and laminate a set of alphabet cards with one letter per card. Then, place a small strip of double-sided tape or a piece of poster putty on the back of enough cards so that you can place one card inside each hopscotch square. For each hop, have students name the letter and sound. Depending on age and subject matter, groups might try the game with sight words, number facts, shapes, or colors.
The Push-Up Place
Standard Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.1d
What you need: Posterboard, scissors, 5–10 index cards
What to do: Get kids on their feet to teach uppercase and lowercase letters. Post two handprints on a wall or closet door where kids can reach, and place two footprints on the floor. Be sure to place footprints a few inches from the wall. On each index card, write both the uppercase and lowercase of a letter (A, a). Have students stand on the footprints, with their hands on the handprints, and read the letters as they do “push-ups.” For a tougher challenge, kids can give the sound. To expand the lesson, repeat using numbers, sight words, shapes, or colors.
Standard Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.3c
What you need: Laminated sight-word cards (or letter cards, shapes, numbers), round tablecloth or sheet
What to do: Place the tablecloth or sheet on the floor and toss word cards near the edges. Then have kids stand around the outside and grab the edges of the cloth. Initially, their job is to keep the cards on the “parachute” while they gently lift and lower it. On your cue, the kids begin to chant:
Little cards, little cards, floating around,
How many cards can we get on the ground?
Next, students count to 10 or recite the ABC’s while vigorously shaking the parachute, attempting to throw the cards off. At your cue, have students lay the parachute flat, find a card that flew off, and return to their spot at the outside edge with the card in hand. In turn, ask each student to show and read the card they found. Then, have them toss all the cards back onto the parachute before marching counterclockwise, counting, then stopping and playing again. Variation: Use smaller tablecloths and have two games going. The smaller the “parachute,” the easier it is to make the cards fly off.
Standard Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.2b
What to do: Make syllable counting a balancing act to help students focus on the task at hand. Ask students to stand with feet hip-width apart. As you name a two- or three-syllable word, ask kids to repeat the word and lift their heels slightly off the floor for the second and third syllables. Students will pronounce the first syllable with feet flat on the ground. As they pronounce the second syllable, they will lift their heels off the ground. (For a three-syllable word, kids should rise on their tiptoes.) To complete the lesson, ask students to maintain balance as they blend the syllables together.
Standard Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.3c
What you need: Paper, pencils
What to do: Try studying sight words during a “snowstorm.” Ask students to write a sight word (letter, number, color, classmate’s name) on a large sheet of recycled paper. Then, have students wad their paper into a “snowball.” Have one group stand on one side of the room and the other group on the opposite side, facing each other. At your cue, let students throw their snowballs into the center. Next, have them go into the center, a few at a time, grab a snowball, and return to their spot. Each student will open a snowball, show the rest of the class, and read the word written inside. The snowballs can be wadded, tossed, retrieved, and read again.
Duck, Duck, Rhyme
Standard Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.2a
What you need: Picture cards for words that can be easily rhymed
What to do: Practice rhyming using the traditional “Duck, Duck, Goose” format. Choose a student to be “It” and whisper a word (or show a picture) for which there are multiple rhyming words.
Start with simple, one-syllable, vowel-consonant-vowel words (hat, mop, pet). Have “It” walk behind the circle of seated children, touching each head while saying the target word: “Mop, mop, mop.” Before “It” completes the circle, he or she must touch a head and say a rhyming word like “top.” The student whose head is touched when the rhyming word is given stands and chases “It” around the outside of the circle. “It” is safe when he or she reaches and sits in the spot left open by the chaser. The chaser now becomes “It.”
Alternately, allow “It” to keep naming rhyming words (pop, stop, cop); the chaser will be the child who is touched when “It” says a word that does not rhyme. For example, Denny might touch heads as he says, “Pop, stop, cop, cow.” The student who is touched on cow becomes the chaser.
Adapted from Early Reading Instruction & Intervention. Cindy Middendorf has taught kindergarten for 22 of her 30 years in the classroom. She is a consultant and teacher trainer for Staff Development for Educators and a national presenter on early literacy instruction, brain-friendly classroom management, and more.