Literacy games

Q I'm a volunteer reading helper in a primary school working with an eight-year-old. Can you suggest games that will help him practise literacy skills?

A You don't say what level the child is at but I can make several suggestions.

Make sets of cards with different rhyming patterns (such as hat, sat, mat and rat; get, set, pet and met; bit, lit, pit and sit). These provide a pack of cards to play snap or doubles (also called pelmanism - a game in which cards are spread out face down and the child has to find pairs). You can adjust the words to fit the child's needs.

You can use a page from a newspaper or magazine to carry out a print hunt - to look for words that begin or end or contain a certain letter pattern.

Or you can make a book-based reading game using a six-word sentence or phrase from the book to create a base board and a cardboard dice. I've successfully used the phrase "'I want my mummy,' said Bill", from Owl Babies (by Martin Wadell).

Making a reading game with a child is a very engaging activity. For example, the child will love to make a track game with you, based on a favourite book, and will enjoy playing over and again afterwards. Use quotes from the text and drawings, plus the usual, "miss a turn" or "move forward two spaces" techniques.

Most children also love using a computer and it's ideal if there's a helpful adult to work alongside them. The BBC spellits website and the Ambleside school site www.amblesideprimary.comamblewebnumeracy.htm provide fun and appropriate activities.

Word searches, crosswords, Boggle and Junior Scrabble are also fun and encourage an interest in words.

Please email questions to or write to TES Extra for Special Needs, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX.

Neither writer can correspond with readers.

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