Two Games to Teach Reading and Develop Children’s Auditory Skills

Children who can’t read are missing one of the following important auditory skills:

  • They can’t rhyme sounds in words.
  • They can’t put sounds (word parts) together to make words. That’s They don’t have the skill of sounding out new words.
  • They don’t know the short vowel sounds or unable to recognize the differences among short vowel sounds. (Short vowels: a-apple, e-elephant, i-igloo, o-octopus, u-umbrella).
  • They have slow recall of letter sounds. E.g. they see the letter “w” and can’t remember what it says.

These traits are common to most children who struggle in reading. These are not traits of “laziness” but of auditory and memory deficits.

In this case and in order to get your children to read words quickly and with ease, you should encourage them to practice the skills mentioned above by using the following two games.

1. Connect-three Game:

This game will help your children connect sounds to make words. This skill is used when children sound out new words.

How to Play:

Tell your children, “I’m going to say three sounds. I want you to put the sounds together and say a word. For example, I say c-a-t and you say cat. I say d-o-g and you say dog.”, etc.

Here’s a list to get you started: begin with nouns, things that can be visualized and advance to words that don’t create mental pictures.

m-o-m
b-ir-d
h-o-t
h-i-m
d-a-d
s-u-n
gr-ee-n
c-a-n
d-e-sk
pi-zz-a
dr-in-k
w-i-ll
br-ai-n
mo-n-ey
c-ol-d
a-n-d
tr-e-e
c-am-p
st-o-p
b-u-t
y-ar-d
t-en-t
w-i-n
fr-o-m

2. Body-name Game:

This game will teach children how to rhyme. Knowing how to rhyme will help children read word “families” such as let, met, pet, wet, and get. Notice that rhyming words have same sound endings, but different beginning sounds. Some words don’t look the same: ache, cake, steak but they rhyme.

How to Play:

Begin by modeling how to rhyme. Point to parts of your body, say a rhyming word and your children should say the body part. This puts rhyming into their ears with a visual cue (pointing). If you point to your nose and say rose, they will automatically say nose.

Tell your children, “We are going to play a rhyming game. Rhyming words have the same sound endings. I’m going to point to something on my body and say a word. You’re going to say the body part that rhymes. Okay?” Give them two examples: “I’m pointing to my leg, and I say beg. You say leg. I’m pointing to my nose. I say rose, and you say nose. Point to your knee and say bee or me, children will say knee. etc.

Here’s a list of body parts and rhyming words:

deer-ear
pail-nail
sack-back
go-toe
gum-thumb
put-foot
bye-eye
deck-neck
see-knee
bear-hair
fin-chin
band-hand
peek-cheek
farm-arm
feel-heel

When your children are able to rhyme body parts, turn it around. Say, “I’m going to say a word and you’ll tell me as many rhyming words as you can. I say “bee”, then you say words such as “he, she, we, three, free, or agree.”

Choose one-syllable words that are easy to rhyme with, such as had, rat, man, fall, ten, red, big, fill, hop, dog, bug and sun. All of these have multiple words that rhyme.


For a whole guide including more practical tips and activities to teach beginning reading to ESL/EFL learners, you can get my featured eBook: Teaching Beginning Reading to ESL/EFL Learners

It covers the following topics:

  • What is reading?
  • The main approaches to teaching beginning reading.
  • The stages of teaching beginning reading.
  • Sample activities for beginning reading.
  • Some important guidelines for EFL teachers to follow before beginning to teach reading in English.

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  1. What about reading then? Mom and hot have each a letter o and yet it’s pronounced differently. If you don’t know the word, how could you pronounce it correctly? Not always possible.

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