Literacy Games

In this blog post I talk about 5 different word games we use in our house with a magnetic whiteboard.

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Welcome to Hands-On Education

Magnetic White Board

I have had this white board for a while, wondering where the perfect spot to hang it could be. I needed a location where we would see it throughout the day and could easily access it. Finally, the perfect wall presented itself in the kitchen; next to the cooker, and in view from the table where we eat.

Alongside this I have found a set of letter magnets that I finally like and actually have a good combination of letters. The set comes with both capital and small letters so children can spell words correctly. The vowels are red to support children in their spelling, and the set also comes with full stops, exclamation marks and question marks. All of this allows children to build sentences which are grammatically correct.

white board
My latest favourite find.

Since hanging up the board we have enjoyed numerous fun literacy games which I would like to share with you.

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Describing pictures

Developing Descriptions and Vocabulary

This is a great way for us all to develop our observation skills as well as language and vocabulary. I will place an image on the whiteboard and we all write words around the image, describing what we see. This could be a single word, for example: “tree”. Or for those working at a higher ability, encourage your child to expand their descriptions like: “a tall leafy tree”.

Leaving the image on the board for a few days, or even a week gives us time to develop our descriptions. At the end of the week, we look at all the descriptions on the board and discuss which words we think are best suited for this image. Occasionally there will be completely random words Teddy or Harry wrote at some point without me even noticing. These we will laugh about and enjoy, whereby further encouraging them to do independent writing.

You can use images from magazines, posters, postcards or even photographs. Use images which make you smile, which spark interest and questions or images related to topics you are currently studying.

As Teddy becomes a more confident reader, he can’t help but read a riddle on the board. These can be real brain teasers which prompt conversation throughout the day.

Teddy writing about football.

Build and Write Game

This word activity can buy me 5 minutes when I am making porridge or cooking dinner. Whilst stirring the porridge I will verbally give each child a suitable word. Then using the magnetic letters, they will build the word on the board. If this has been spelt correctly, they can write the word.

Finding words in words
Finding words in words
Word Maker Game

In this literacy game words are made using only the letters from one main word. Each letter can only be used once.

We recently used the letters in the word “archaeologist” to make as many words as possible. This was a good word to use as there are quite a few vowels and many possible combinations. This suited both Teddy and Harry who are at different levels in their development. The magnetic letters are particularly useful in this instance as the boys can experiment with the letters by moving them around.

Alphabet words
Alphabet words
Alphabet List Game

This activity is more challenging than you might expect! Choose a topic or theme and present a list of the alphabet on the board. Together think of words related to the theme beginning with each letter.

We recently took the topic “animals”. This is a very broad and vast topic, but some letters still proved to be quite tricky. This stayed on the board for a week and we gradually added words to our list.

Why don't polar bears eat penguins?
Why don't polar bears eat penguins?

Jokes And Riddles Game

“I have a tail and a head, but no body. What am I?”

As Teddy becomes a more confident reader, he can’t help but read a riddle on the board. These can be real brain teasers which prompt conversation throughout the day. If the riddle has not been solved by dinner time, I will give the boys more clues and lead them to the answer.

There are many joke and riddle books you can use to inspire this form of critical thinking. If suitable you can even have your child select and write a riddle for you to work out!

Word association
Word association

Word Association Game

This is a fun word game to give you an insight to the way your child thinks. Write one topic word on the board. For example: “fossils” or “castles”. Next your child can make a mind map of related words.

Playing With Literacy

Please keep in mind these games are not about testing your child’s ability but about having some fun with literacy, playing with letters and words, prompting communication and discussion. Do not be afraid to write words on the board whilst your child dictates. Encourage your child to have a go or even draw a picture.

Whether at home or in the classroom, I hope you have fun playing with literacy.

Discover Related Topics

Try out one of these literacy games using one of these topics for inspiration.

Key Stage One

Teddy looking out from Kendal Castle.

Key Stage One

Teddy spotting a frog in the pond.

Key Stage One
Flying Machines

The boys dropping homemade parachutes.

Key Stage One

The boys on a winters walk in nature.