5 Tabletop Games to Encourage Early Reading Skills

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Do you have reluctant readers in your house? Here’s a quick test to find out. Simply ask, “Why don’t you go read in your room for a while?” If you’re met with groans rather than cheers, your kids could probably use some alternatives to get some reading in their day.

These tabletop games are ideal for encouraging early readers to get some practice in without even realizing it. With basic words and literacy concepts, these five picks aren’t just great for practicing reading and learning new words–they’re fun for the whole family.

Rory’s Story Cubes

A game with no words in it might not seem like an obvious choice for practicing reading, but Gamewright’s  Rory’s Story Cubes is a chance to learn about putting together stories in a more relaxed setting than staring at a blank, lined piece of paper on a school desk.

A roll of the dice serves as the prompt for a one-of-a-kind tale. Jumpstart imaginations and a love of stories by listening intently to your kids as they spin a yarn unlike any other. Want some extra excitement? Add Batman. (You can never go wrong when you add Batman.) The game is suggested for 8 and up, but kids as young as kindergarteners can tell silly stories of their own with your help to keep them on track. (Kindergarten+)

Apples to Apples Kids

The “kids” version of Apples to Apples from Mattel is just right for kids as young as first grade. Simple words and concepts are easy to read on each card, and kids must carefully weigh their options when picking the best match for the adjective on the green card.

With Apples to Apples Kids, kids can read and learn new words, use some strategy when playing to the judge, and argue their case if needed. The hardest part is remembering you’re not playing Cards Against Humanity when the “my mom” card comes up. (1st Grade – 5th Grade) 

Quiddler Junior

For an early reader, Quiddler Junior might feel the most like hard work, but playing the game as a family can lead to learning new words and make practicing spelling a blast. (That doesn’t sound possible, does it?)

Use the letter cards to spell short words in five rounds of play. Simple words are included with colorful illustrations on every card as helpful prompts, sneaking in a little extra reading. To keep track of the score, Quiddler Junior includes point chips so you don’t have to grab a pencil and paper. Bonus math practice! (1st Grade+)

The Scrambled States of America Game

This classic Gamewright game is an unexpected hit in our house. Not only are the state and question cards clear with concise sentences, they make use of concepts like vowels and looking for words hidden in other words. Reading state names is a fantastic opportunity to teach state pronunciation as early as 1st grade without worrying about sounding silly in front of the entire class.

The Scrambled States of America Game even includes modified rules tailored to early readers, growing with kids as they get comfortable enough reading to play with the standard rules. As a bonus, the game even comes with a copy of the original picture book. (1st Grade+)

In a Pickle

Although the idea of the game is simple, In a Pickle from Gamewright can really get kids’ wheels turning. Play cards to arrange them by order of size: Can a balloon fit in a garage? What if it’s a hot air balloon? Cards are open to interpretation as players arrange them by size.

In a Pickle is intended for kids ages 10 and up, but early readers can learn new vocabulary and stretch their imaginations as they think about how things relate to each other. Youngest readers might need help grasping the idea of the game, but picturing fitting turkey in a purse and other wacky scenarios is sure to get some giggles. (3rd grade+)

What are your favorite games for kids in early elementary school? Let us know! 

Top image courtesy © Set Enterprises Inc.

All other images credit Gamewright, Set, and Mattel

Gamewright provided promotional copies for review purposes.

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