How to Make Reading Fun

Make reading fun

Having Fun While Learning to Read

2nd grade twins are bored with reading worksheets. Dr. Linda suggests games and physical exercise to improve learning and agrees that worksheets can be very dull indeed.

Dear Dr. Linda:

School’s just started and already my twins are bringing home one boring math or reading worksheet after another. It’s their 2nd grade homework. They have different teachers but even so some of these worksheets are identical.

My daughter, Erika, doesn’t mind them since she’s determined to do everything her teacher tells her to do. Her brother, Andrew, on the other hand hates “those stupid worksheets.” It’s a real struggle to get him to complete them.

Obviously we can’t do anything about the worksheets, but can you suggest something to make learning basic arithmetic and reading more fun. Thanks for your help. Twins’ Mom

Dear Twins’ Mom,

You’re not alone. Lots of kids, including those who get excellent grades, don’t like the worksheets. They just aren’t very much fun. And from the research we know that kids (and adults too) learn best when they’re having fun.

Playing games is one of the best ways I know to help kids learn while having fun. Even traditional board games can be used as learning resources. Parcheesi is a great game for simple addition facts. In this game it takes a seven to start your turn. Ask your child what different combinations of the die will equal seven. Each time they roll the dice have them tell you the total of the two die.

Lots of board games are focused on throwing dice and counting the number of spaces to move your game piece. In some games it’s easy to change the rules so that when children know the total of the two dice, they get an extra point.

For older kids, Monopoly is a great skill builder and most children love this game. Kids get to practice reading, arithmetic, and money skills in Monopoly. The amount of money needed to continue playing increases so by the end of the game, kids are playing with numbers in the thousands. A simplified version of Monopoly is available for younger children.

Give kids scissors, crayons or markers, tape, index cards, paper, old magazines, and used calendars. Invite them to make up their own reading and arithmetic games.

Suggestions for beginning readers: Make Reading Fun

1. Highlight the week’s sight words or phonics phoneme in an old magazine. Or cut the word out. This works well for kids who like to color and cut. Make up sentences with cut-out words.

2. Find objects in a room that begin with or are the color of a specific letter, sound, combination of sounds, even a compound word. For example, words that begin with the letter “b,” with the letters “bl,” compound words that begins with “b.”

3. Who can count the most things in a room or your house that start with a specific letter? This game can be a contest between your twins. Or the whole family can take turns playing. For some kids, the game is a lot more fun if their Mom and Dad are playing too.

Beginning readers often need help with reading comprehension too.

Move to learn

Modify the games by adding movement. Research has shown that in addition to having fun, learning is also enhanced by physical movement. For example, hop on your right foot when you find an object in the room that starts with “b.” When you find a second object that starts with “b,” clap your hands.” “Walk to a 3rd object.” And so forth. If kids (and parents) are taking turns, the last player can choose what movement the next player must do.

The same principle works for arithmetic: “Jump the number of times to get the correct answer for 2 + 4 equals.” Hop the number of times for the answer to 18 divided by 6.” “Clap the number of times for the answer to 9 times 7.”

If the game isn’t fun or it’s too difficult, change the rules or stop playing and try a different game

Beginning readers love playing card games. Try these reading games for your twins.

Wishing you and your twins a fun-filled and successful school year,
Dr. Linda Silbert

P.S. Check out this summary of the five basic principles for learning to read.

What ideas do you have to make learning to read fun? Please comment below!

Phonics Centered — Consistent with Orton-Gillingham — Multisensory