3 Reading Games to Teach Your Toddler Boy to Read

I wrote a post on how I’m teaching my preschooler to read. I recently started focusing on reading because he’s taken an interest in spelling, and his attention span seems to be lengthening to where we can focus for longer periods of time to practice our letters and sounds. One thing I know about my four-year-old is that he loves a game. I can get him to do anything if I tell him he’s a super hero while he’s doing it. I came up with some fabulous games that encourage him to read, with out realizing that he’s even reading!

First, we play, READING BATS! Yep, its Batman themed, along with hunting and capturing. My little boy loves a chase, so here’s what we do:

I start by cutting paper into squares, or you can use index cards or something that is blank on both sides in a square-ish shape. I thought about cutting the pieces into bat shapes, but with my two-year-old and 3-month-old hanging on me, I couldn’t embark on that much craftiness.

Then, I had my little student help me draw bats on the cards. While he was helping me, I wrote small words I know he can sound out on the other side. We’ve mastered the “AT” sounding words so far, so for example, we did BAT, SAT, CAT, HAT, RAT and FAT as the main words on the cards the other day. I added new fun words like DOG, BAT MAN, JOKER and others that he likes, but can’t necessarily read to keep him challenged.

I have him close his eyes, and I hide the bats all over our living room. We set up a laundry basket as the “cage” for the bats to go in. HERE’S THE READING TRICK: Once he found the bat, the only way he could capture the bat in the cage was to sound out and read the word on the back! Boy, this was fun, and he requests to play it over and over! He could play this all day with me, which I love because he doesn’t realize he’s learning to read. Even better, you can use any paper and pen to quickly make the game, and you can do it anywhere. No clutter, just some paper to recycle when you’re done.

Next Game: Spelling Jail: My little boy is in love with policemen, chasing speeders and catching bad guys. So, I created a make-believe-game where I am a police man in charge of the Spelling Jail. My preschooler is the bad guy, and if he can’t spell a word I choose, he gets put in jail. He LOVES this! Here’s an example of our script:

Mama: Okay Mr. Bad Guy, I’ve pulled you over, and if you can’t spell this word, I’m taking you to Jail.

Benjamin: No way, I can spell all the words!

Mama: Okay, then, spell RAT….

Benjamin: Um, how do you spell Rat mama…?

I proceed to help him sound out the word, so he can spell it himself.

Benjamin: Ha, R-A-T. You’re never gonna put me in Jail Mr. Police man!

And the game continues over and over. He never gets put in jail because we work through spelling all the words I come up with. The great part about this game is that he is learning to picture the spelling in his mind, without seeing the letters. Its much more challenging for him, and he still requires help, but its exercising another portion of his brain.

The third game is LETTER HUNT. The game involves this letter kit by Melissa and Doug. We keep these put away for this special game, so we don’t lose the small letters. The letter box has the lower case and upper case letters, and we practice separating them, which really helps him understand that letters have two versions.

We put the letters in a pile all scrambled. I come up with a word like, CAT, and he has to find the letters and put them together to make the word. The trick for Benjamin is to put the letters in the right order. He sounds them out correctly, but still has trouble lining them up to spell CAT, rather than TAC or CTA. My Two-year-old gets more involved with this one because he’s learned a lot of his letters already, and I can ask him to look for one letter at a time in the pile, while my four-year-old is working on spelling.

These are the three reading games I came up with to help my little boy grasp reading. I really want him to learn to read on his own as soon as possible because once he can read, there is so much he can learn himself. He has a large appetite for stories and make believe, so once we can teach him to read stories and learn on his own, there is a whole world of fun at his fingertips.

If you didn’t catch the post on how I’m teaching my toddler to read, check it out. I have such a simple process that is actually working!

I am ordering these sight words flash cards for our trip this month, and hope to have him memorize them all by March!

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