If you're having difficulty motivating your third grader to crack open a book and improve her reading fluency, turn it into a “race” and watch what happens. Instantly, your child's competitive streak kicks in and she's up for the task!
In this high energy, interactive game, third graders are challenged to a different kind of race—one that doesn't require any running at all. Instead, it involves spelling patterns in words. This is one race she will want to run again and again!
What You Do:
- Take out 36 blue index cards, and have your child write one ending phonogram on each. (Note: it may be tempting to type these out, or look for packaged cards, but the act of writing them is valuable in itself for a third grader!) Here's a list of common phonograms to get you started: -ack, -eat, -ice, -ock, -uck, -an, -ell -ick, -oke, -ug, -ap, -est, -ide, -op -ump, -ash, -ill, -ate, -unk, -at, -in, -ight -oan, -ate, -ine, -ain, -ing, -ail, -ink -ake, -ip, -ale, -ir, -ame, -ay, -ank
- Pull out 36 yellow index cards, and have your child write a starting letter blend. Here are 18 classic blends. Use each one twice: str, ch, th, pl, sh, br, sk, dr, sm, st, sn, fr, pr, qu, wh, tr, thr, gr
- Explain to players (2 or 3) that this game will use phonograms, or spelling patterns within words. Phonograms are combinations of letters that make a sound. For example, “-ip” is a phonogram that helps to spell words like sip, dip and clip.
- This game works like "Old Maid," with a twist: instead of looking for an identical "match," the players will look for a completing phonogram. Start by placing each pile of cards face down on a table, and shuffling them. Have each player pick up three blue cards and hold them so opponents can't see.
- Take turns picking up one yellow card at a time. If it can make a real word when added to one of the blue cards, it's a "match" in this game! Have the player put the word down so everyone can see it, and then pick up another blue card. If a word can't be made, that's okay--just hold onto the yellow card and wait until the next round.
- In each new round, players will pick up a yellow card and try to match it. If they can match it, they get another blue card. When all the cards are gone, the player with the most words wins. (psst...want to add even a little more challenge? invite your child to add even a few more phonogram cards, such as --ild, --ench...but here's the trick: make sure the ideas come from your third grader. It's all great practice, and it's powerful reading, too.)
What's going on? You're helping your child move from the letter-by-letter "sound it out" approach of early reading into the next level: reading to understand whole thoughts. Phonograms are a way to figure out new words quickly, based on familiar patterns. And with this game, they're also a way to engage the whole family in fun with language!
Brigid Del Carmen has a Master's Degree in Special Education with endorsements in Learning Disabilities and Behavior Disorders/Emotional Impairments. Over the past eight years, she has taught Language Arts, Reading and Math in her middle school special education classroom.