Monday, August 11, 2014

Help Your Child Learn to Read with The Reading Game {A Back to School Review}

I think I have made it clear in the past that reading is very important to me, and making sure the children succeed in reading is one of the reasons I chose to homeschool. There was a time when I was firmly entrenched in the phonics-only camp when it came to learning to read. I have since become aware that there are benefits to combining both phonics and sight words.  Thankfully I have opened my mind to various ways of teaching, as I came across a great help for beginning and struggling readers called The Reading Game

The Reading Game was created by Kenneth Hodkinson, the author of Wordly Wise. He came up with The Reading Game to help his granddaughter learn to read. She was showing signs of reading readiness but not yet in kindergarten.  After his success with his own granddaughter, he field tested the game and brought it to market. Thus was born a small family business. Since then, they have updated the game, and I have had the privilege of using the 2nd Enhanced Edition with Hannah. 

The Reading Game comes with:

  • 6 decks of matching word playing cards
  • 6 sets of picture flashcards
  • 6 illustrated storybooks
  • Instruction Guide

This learn-to-read program consists of several stages of learning. Each illustrated book is color coded to match its word-matching cards and the picture flashcards. Thirty words are learned for each book, five in each set of cards (shown below numbered 1-6).

Here are the words that are to be learned in the first set of cards. The memory game is played with one set of cards at a time.

Once the first two sets of cards are learned satisfactorily, the child should be able to read the 1st picture flashcard.

Here is a closer look at the three picture flashcards that go with the first book, Skunk.

After learning the 30 words in this red set, the child should then be able to read Skunk.

By the time the child works through the entire series, 180 words are in their memory, hard-wired there through multiple, frequent exposure through these fun memory games, flashcards and books. 

How did we use The Reading Game?

Well, I have enlisted Hannah's older sister to help her learn. The game is to be played with the student and a "tutor" who is able to read the words. I figured, that doesn't have to be mommy all the time, though I am right there supervising and helping out. I have been known to join in the memory card play so there are 3 people playing the game. Sneaky mommy also knows that this will help Amelia improve her reading skills.

First I had Amelia read the book, Skunk to make sure she knew all the words. She did, so she was ready to help tutor Hannah.

I had them play the memory game. As each word is flipped over, they are to say the word. If it is a match they are able to keep the pair. If they do not match, as in the classic Memory card games, they are flipped back over and hopefully someone remembers where they are. Playing with only 10 cards at a time, play moves quite fast and multiple games can be played to work on getting the words to stick in the brain due to repetition. 

Not a match.

A match!!

After we played several rounds with the first set of cards, I had Amelia show Hannah one card at a time to see if any were truly sticking.

Yes, the words did stick. Until we tried to play the game a second day and Hannah only remembered a couple of the words. I got the familiar, "I don't know" for most of the words. We played again with the same set, and she did show quicker recall of the words. We were able to move on to the second set. 

We are actually still trying to work through this set of words. Here is the list of words that will be learned to read the Skunk story: all, and, can , cat, day, do, dog, fun, is, it, kind, me, not, of, out, play, run, sad, she, skunk, stay, stop, stripe, they, this, to, want, what, will, with.

It is recommended to wait until being finished with all 6 books before incorporating phonics. This is done by using the words that are included in the lists and working with the child to come up with rhyming words or words in the same Word Family. 

I admit, as we go through the cards, I have been encouraging Hannah to not just say the word, but to actually look at the word and make sure she can see and hear the sounds the letters make. I don't do this for every word as it is flipped over, more as a review to make sure she is seeing the sounds the word is made up of.  I can definitely see that she is gaining confidence while she is memorizing the words. She gets so excited when she makes a match. Yes, I do still have some reservations, but I am willing to keep at it and see if it continues to stick as she has been struggling with learning the way I taught Tabitha and Amelia. I do realize she is only 4 1/2, and may not be quite ready for reading yet, especially because her speech was delayed due to an inability to hear properly. That is why I am excited to give The Reading Game a chance and to get started now, as it is recommended for ages 4 and up.

Here are some important facts about the words taught in The Reading Game from the website:

 •  Dolch Word List of “service words” (pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and verbs) that cannot be learned through the use of pictures. 60% of the words in “The Reading Game” are on the Dolch Word List for pre-k and k and makes up 54% of dolch words for Pre-K, K and 1st Grade.

•  Of the first 100 most commonly used English words (source The Reading Teachers Book of Lists, Third Edition by Fry, et al) “The Reading Game” incorporates 88% of the most common twenty-five words and 63% of the first 100.

The Reading Game is correlated to the Common Core State Standards, though I haven't let that deter me. When it comes to products and curriculum that are associated with Common Core, I do not automatically avoid them, I am willing to try them out if I have a chance to see if there is any merit in them.  And yes, I can see the benefits of using The Reading Game.

Edited to add this information from The Reading Game site: "The Reading Game is proud to be supported by 'The Education Freedom Coalition.' The Reading Game was not purposefully designed or aligned to Common Core, but by the very nature of the basic sight-word teachings, it happens to meet many of the basic Common Core educational objectives."

The Reading Game can be purchased for $34.95.

 You can more about the game at their website.
They even have a section for educators where you can download assessments and recording sheets.
You can also find them on Facebook.

 The Reading Game can be yours!
The generous folks over at The Reading Game have given me permission to give away more than one copy of their game. I have already given away 2 during my weekly giveaways during my Back to School Celebration. This week I will be giving away another copy and then a final copy will be included in The Grand Prize Giveaway that begins August 17th and is worth approximately $370.

Don't miss out on the Grand Prize Giveaway!
Click here to enter the giveaway.

How would you like some extra entries into this giveaway before it even starts? 
Head on over to the website and tell me something you learned. Leave the answer here in the comments with your email and when the giveaway is live I will email you the secret code to place in the Rafflecopter for a bonus 10 points. 

Don't miss out on the Grand Prize Giveaway!
Click here to enter the giveaway.


  1. Wow this looks awesoem! I need one for my family!!!

  2. This looks awesome. It would be great for my preschool.

  3. What a great idea!! I am for anything that encourages kids to read and this is such a fun way to do it!

  4. That is a great invention!! Looks like they are having fun and learning at the same time!

  5. This is a perfect way to introduce early reading to kids before entering school. How fun to make it a matching game.

  6. this looks like a great product. I do not hear the greatest things about common core, but glad to see that you like this despite it following that curriculum.

  7. This is such a great and fun way to get kids to learn to read! I love that it not only comes with flash cards, but books as well.

  8. This is a game I'd like for us to have. I learned that it is sold on

    allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

  9. This is prefect for introducing children to reading. Each day I make sure my daughters read a book each night when they come home from school. By doing this I've seen a big improvement in their reading skills. #ProductReviewParty

  10. This would perfect for my daughter she has speech problem,so this would help her with her reading.Great for younger kids.

  11. This looks like a fun game for beginning readers. I'd like to use it with our family.

    allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

  12. I like that this game makes sure they know the words by reading the book first! My youngest is struggling and I have been challenged to find a solution for her. She is willing to learn if she is not in a forced situation.

  13. I love this game. It sounds like it would really help my struggling students

  14. This sounds like it would be beneficial to our 4 (almost 5 year old). I'd love to use this tool in our homeschooling!

  15. I love multi-sensory methods of teaching/learning.


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