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Literacy...10 ways to make learning to read and spell fun!

Updated: Jul 2, 2020

As speech therapists at SPOT Paediatrics we understand the challenges many children face when learning to read and write, and I’m sure all parents are aware that literacy is hugely important for children to grasp from an early age. Some kids 'crack the code' and get the hang of it easily….for others it's a challenge. They try their very best at it, but it just doesn’t make sense, and that all important motivation disappears.

So to help you keep your child engaged when you think they are starting to lose motivation and confidence check out these play and activity suggestions for making reading and spelling at home….or in the classroom….fun (hopefully!)

1. Take it outside, get active...

Write one sight word at a time in chalk on the ground for your child to read, they get to shoot a hoop for each word read correctly....or, your child writes a word in chalk for the other person to read then shoots if it's spelled correctly. Swap turns (adult spells a word for child to read).

2. Make a treasure hunt

Hide spelling words around the house with an item or a piece of ‘treasure’, when your child finds a word get them to read it, and then write it on a whiteboard/chalkboard/in a book.

3. Do an obstacle course

Give your child written clues for them to read to complete each step of the obstacle course (keep the instructions simple and repetitive keeping in mind your child’s reading level e.g. easier: “Put a hat on” “go to the tree”…a little harder “jump over the rope” “run to the front door” “crawl under the table”).

4. Use some apps

There are many many apps these days that help to make literacy fun. You can use them for reading, spelling and writing stories. Book Creator is easy to use, cheap and simple! Try simply getting your child to type their spelling words, or if you or your child is into drawing- one of you chooses a word, then draws a picture, then the guesser types/writes the spelling word under the picture.

5.Themes/classroom stories

Choose words (common, everyday, and specific words) from a story that the class is reading/or from a reader, then write them out and cut them up separately. One person chooses a word out of a box, reads it and makes up a silly sentence using that word. Record the sentences (camera, voice recorder, Book Creator) for added fun!

6. Everyday literacy

Grocery shopping can provide some great opportunities for on-the-go reading and spelling. Ask your child to read you what’s next to find from the shopping list as you walk down the isles; or get your child to write items you need to buy at the shops on the shopping list.

7. Get hands on!

Spray some shaving cream or something similar on the table and tell your child one spelling word at a time to write in the shaving cream.

8. Write your child’s spelling words with one or two letters missing then they work out what is missing.

9. Crack the code- give each letter in the alphabet a number, give your child a copy of the letters with their corresponding numbers, then write out some codes for your child to crack! (e.g. a1,b2,c3,d4,e5,f6,g7,h8,i9……414= ‘dad’)

10. *Pick out a bunch of new and unfamiliar words in readers and stories, sound them out together, talk about what they mean, put them into sentences, write them in a ‘new words’ list and place them on the fridge for reference. Then stick 2-3 words on the wall outside and use the words as a target for throwing a ball/water balloon at or spraying with a water pistol, once hit, read the word.


*Praise every attempt at reading, spelling and writing. Children need encouragement to keep trying!

*Support your child to SOUND out the sounds in unfamiliar words when reading (e.g. if you are sounding out ‘cat’ it is best to say the sounds k-a-t …..and not the letters cee-ay-tee). Sounding out will help to blend the sounds together to hear the whole word.

*Help your child to segment longer words into syllables.

*Discuss what is working and what is not working in your speech therapy sessions so your therapist can give some more guidance if needed!

I hope you have found some helpful tips that work for your child!

Written by Eilis Melino

Senior Speech Pathologist

SPOT Paediatrics

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