It’s the end of the year, and the kids are antsy. They feel the call of the summer sun, the green grass, and the blue skies.
And they want O-U-T.
Out of math, reading, science, history, and writing. They are done with learning for a few months.
But there are a few ways to spice up the end of the year, especially when it comes to reading. I’ve broken it down by type (DIY, computer/online, board game, etc.) and grade levels (primary, elementary, middle+). Let me know if there is something I have missed!
Reading with Technology
PBS Kids is one of my hands-down favorite resources year round, simply because of the depth and breadth of their materials. Reading is no different. They have games for the early primary through early elementary grades, focusing strongly on phonics and letter recognition.
These games would be great to use as incentives, as review, or as one of your literacy stations.
Word Turtle is fun for all ages! This FunBrain Game helps students to create their own word searches. This is a great way to review sight words, vocabulary in any subject, or troublesome word study words.
BrainPOP has a whole section devoted to English, reading, and writing. I really like the Famous Authors and Books. This would be great for elementary through high school students who are looking for a review of grammar, information about authors, or writing tips.
For students who want a challenge, learning American Sign Language is a great way to work a different area of their brain with language. This is great for middle elementary to high school students. I’ve linked to the FunBrain game, but there are dozens of other teaching and learning resources online and off.
It is impossible to list all of the resources available online, but this list from Teacher Vision is a great start. It has tons of games, many of them from FunBrain, for all ages and grades.
Reading Board Games
Alphabet Island is a matching game for upper and lower case letters, and for beginning word sounds. This game is targeted at kids ages 4+, but would also be great for older students learning English as a second language or as a resource for a speech language pathologist or special education teacher.
If you are looking to practice adjectives and nouns, Apples to Apples, Jr. is the game for you. Students can play in groups of 4 or more, and with an under 30 minute play time it goes fairly quickly. My suggestion would be to split the decks into smaller stacks, or to purchase an expansion pack, before dividing your class into smallish groups of 5-6. That way you could have a few different games of Apples to Apples happening all at once. This game is best suited for students in fourth grade and above.
Grasping Grammar is a good grammar review or teaching tool. It covers all the parts of speech, conjugating, and using words correctly. Ideally, this is for students in upper elementary through high school. The directions ARE a little hard to understand, but the game is fairly forgiving if you wanted to modify the existing directions, or create your own.
My hands down favorite language game is Bananagrams. There are unending ways to play this game, from cross word/Scrabble style, to spelling contests, and more. This is a great game to use from early primary to high school. For the littles, you can use the tiles to teach letter recognition and creating CVC words. For older kids, the options are limitless.
DIY Reading Games
Pinterest is your best friend for everything DIY. There are so many possibilities for DIY or easy to create reading games.
One of the best is magnetic letters and magnetic words. Put a selection of words/letters onto a metal baking sheet. Using just what they are given, students should make and record as many words, sentences, and stories as possible in a given amount of time.
You could also create a continuing story for the whole class. Have one student or group start a story, record it, reset the words, and leave their written story at the station. The next group reads the beginning of the story and uses the words on the tray to continue the story.
Have leftover plastic Easter eggs and about 15 minutes? You can create a word family game! You’ll need enough Easter eggs to cover all of your word families at least once. On the longer half of each egg write the word family ending (ex: ~at). On the fat half of the egg, write letters that begin words in that word family (b~, f~, p~, etc.). As your child/student spins the fat half of the egg, new words will be made. She should read each word out loud before moving to the next word.
This is a great way to brainstorm rhyming words! You could also create an extra challenge by having students use each word in a sentence, or all the words in a family in a story! For more DIY early reader reading games, check out the Measured Mom’s list! This activity is great for primary and early elementary.
If you are reading a book as a whole class, or even in a small group, charades is a great way to help really highlight important parts of the story. Working in two teams, each student in turn draws a character card (or setting or problem or important action, etc.) from the bin and acts it out silently. The other students should guess until they get it right, with a point awarded to the team who is correct. This can work with any age, from early elementary to high school.
For noisy fun, students can play Guess Who? Attach a character from your class book to every student’s back. Then, the students can walk around the room and ask yes/no questions to find out who they are. “Am I tall?” “Am I a girl?” “Am I kind?” This activity helps students zero in on character traits and appearance. It works best with upper elementary to middle school students.
Fun Reading Activities
Sometimes, you and the kids are all gamed out. When that happens, turn to individual projects. All of these ideas can be used across all grades, with more adult guidance for the smallest readers.
One of my favorites is Map It! Using what they know from a story, students create an actual map of places in the story. For Harry Potter, it could be as small as the Gryffindor common room or as large as the whole Hogwarts castle. Anne of Green Gables fans might create a map of Avonlea. A Series of Unfortunate Events has enough map making fodder in each of the thirteen books to create a whole book of just maps!
Another fun one is to illustrate a scene or design your own cover. Often, the covers of our beloved books are a little out of date, or the best scene in the novel doesn’t have a picture. For this, students are limited only by their imaginations and understanding of the story.
If students want to work in smaller groups, they could work together to create a script for their favorite scene, short story, or picture book. After they rehearse, they could act it out for the class or video tape it to show later. This is a great way to incorporate readers’ theater into your classroom, but make it totally student led. Or use this in literature circles to help students interact AND dig deeper into the story. Acting out a story could be super basic or very complex, with costumes, props and sets.
How do you make reading fun as you head into summer?