action cards, Montessori, reading

Exciting Action Cards To Try (Have A Blast With Reading!)

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Montessori Action Cards for Reading

In my previous blog post, we learned about picture and word cards. The action cards lesson is next in the Montessori reading words sequence. In my teacher training, we called them activity cards.

Your child reads the word on the card and then acts out the word. Then, you or another child guesses the word acted out. It is a fun and engaging game for the kids. I strongly remember this activity being a massive hit with the beginning readers in my classroom.

To keep the game attractive, changing the word cards often is essential. If you don’t have the cards handy, I made a printable with 80 action word cards if you want to download and try them.

In this post, I’ll share with you the action activity lesson I learned from my training and how it went with my five-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Annie, at home!

In This Post

action cards Pinterest Pin

Exciting ways to practice reading words

There is endless research on how phonics and practicing decoding words is essential in helping kids to learn how to read. 

Phonics and phonemic awareness is the exploration of letter sounds and symbols and manipulating sounds in spoken words. Once a child can grasp this and practice this, she can begin decoding or sounding out words, which is so exciting! 

According to the Hechinger Report article, What parents need to know about the research on how kids learn to read,

"We don’t know how much phonics each kid needs. But we know no kid is hurt by getting too much of it."

The article goes on to say that phonics instruction is critical for young children, according to experts.

Incorporating fun ways to practice decoding words phonetically, such as acting out words with action cards, is a fantastic variation to keep sounding out words intriguing.

Continuing to play the game with new and more challenging words keeps the game exciting. It allows further practice with sounding out words.

Just like with the previous reading activity, picture and word matching, action activity cards can help young children with:

  • learning to read written words
  • enlarging reading vocabulary
  • decoding the written word

action cards, Montessori, reading
read the word and act out the word, hop

Additionally, this action card activity has an added benefit. Your child gets to decode the word and act out the word. We can turn this into a game! It helps develop reading comprehension, because it allows your child to act out the meanings of words. 

How to do the Montessori action cards

What you'll need

action cards, Montessori, reading
clipboard, pencil, and slips of paper

A clipboard (or hard book or board to write on), a pencil, and small blank slips of paper. You will only use these materials when you first introduce the game to your child. 

You’ll also need two sets of cards prepared in two different colors: white/cream/ivory for set 1 and green for set 2

If you do not have the action cards at home, I made printables of sets 1 and 2 (as you see in the photos), which you can download from the Resource Library. I made 80 word cards total (40 word cards for each set). Sign up at the bottom of this post to access the Resource Library.


action cards, Montessori, reading
Set 1 action activity cards (40 word cards in printable)

Set 1: three-letter phonetic words, words that include short vowels and consonant blends, and two-syllable phonetic words  (such as: clap, jump, gallop, fan, pat)


action cards, Montessori, reading
Set 2 action activity cards (40 word cards in printable)

Set 2: phonetic words that include phonograms – those sounds represented on the green double sandpaper letters. (such as: brush, bark, shout, sleep, paint)

I usually print out the words on white card stock, cut out the cards, and then mount them on larger colored card stock with a glue stick: cream/ivory/white card stock for set 1 and green card stock for set 2. This way, you see the color, and the cards look prettier and sturdier!

action cards, Montessori, reading
set 1 cards

If you prefer, you could print out set 1 on white card stock and print set 2 on light green card stock to save you the extra step of mounting them on colored card stock. It’s up to you!

You can then laminate them, which is optional. I always laminated the cards in the classroom because multiple children would use them for several years, and they needed to last longer. 

But if you’re using them at home, you can skip laminating them. Then, you can recycle them in the paper recycle bin when you’re done using them.

action cards, Montessori, reading
set 2 cards (double letter phonograms in red/dark pink)

For the set 2 words with the phonograms from the green sandpaper letters, underline or print the double letters in red/dark pink. This helps to pinpoint the double-letter sound. You can always revisit the green sandpaper letters if your child needs support sounding out the double letters. 

As I mentioned in the previous few blog posts about reading word activities with set 2 words, be sure to only use words with the spellings found on the green sandpaper letters. We will address the alternate spellings of these sounds later on in the reading sequence. 

action cards printable pin

* If you would like to download the action activity cards set 1 and set 2 that I made and the lesson plan PDF I made, sign up for the resources library at the bottom of this post. If you’re already a subscriber, be sure to get the most recent password from my latest email. 

Step-by-step: action cards lesson

Invite your child who has had practice decoding words to the rug. Sit on her dominant side.

action cards, Montessori, reading
you write the word and ask your child to read it

Tell your child that you will write a word on the slip of paper for her to read. Once she has read the word, ask her to act out what the word means.

action cards, Montessori, reading
ask your child to act out the word

Attempt to “guess” your child’s word.

action cards, Montessori, reading
read the action word

Tell your child that she can play this game with another “reading” friend using the prepared cards in each set.  Demonstrate how to take one word out at a time and act out the meaning. 

action cards, Montessori, reading
act out the action word

Ask your child if she wants to repeat the activity or practice with the prepared Set 1 cards. Move on to Set 2 when ready.

action cards, Montessori, reading
acting out the word, peek

When I first do this, I choose a small collection of  8 or 10 word cards that are the easiest to read and interpret. For example, I started with the words from set 1: clap, swim, jump, hop, sit, stand, skip, and hug. 

I made a collection of 40 cards in set 1, so the next time we do this game, we could choose a different set of 8 to 10 cards that may be a bit more challenging. 

When your child is ready, you can move on to set 2 with the double letter sounds. It’s okay to revisit the green sandpaper letters to get through some of them. 

More action cards ideas

As I mentioned above, changing the words is always a great way to change it up and make the game more challenging. 

This game is kind of like a fun version of reading charades! You can turn it into an exciting game with multiple friends, where you take turns reading the word on the card, acting it out, and having the other friends guess the word. 

Also, as a Montessori teacher, we would do theater with the kids every week as a special. We would read a classic story like The Three Little Pigs, and the kids would take turns playing roles in the book and put on a whole theater production with props.

This theater activity was not a decoding or phonics activity, but it was a fun way to practice acting out different characters and helped prepare for reading comprehension. If your child is interested in acting out words, you could explore theater or acting out books you read as a fun activity for your child! 

You can also make the game even more challenging by writing phrases on a card to act out, such as: 

  • sit on the rug
  • tap a box
  • hit a drum
  • pet the dog
  • get the pen

Also note that there are lessons on verbs and nouns in the grammar and functions of words section at the end of the Montessori Language sequence. So although action activity cards is not really a lesson about verbs, it could also be an introduction to understanding action words or verbs.

In this lesson, all the words are action words or verbs, but you could also try nouns to act out, like different animals or vehicles.

action cards, Montessori, reading
Your child may want a turn to write a word

If your child is really into writing words, you could encourage her to write action words to act out on slips of paper. I didn’t suggest this, but Annie thought of this independently when I first introduced the lesson to her!

Annie said, “Mommy, it’s my turn to write a word for you to read and act out!” She had so much fun with this as she explored with her creativity! 

action cards, Montessori, reading
read the word and act it out: sleep

Another idea is to make a little booklet of all the action card words, bind the booklet with a small cover, and staple it together. Then, your child can return to the booklet, practice reading the words, and act them out! 

Concluding Thoughts about action activity cards

I hope you enjoyed reading about the Montessori action activity cards. I noticed that Annie had so much fun with this activity and smiled throughout. Sometimes, she got a little silly, but that’s good! 

Finding exciting ways to encourage your child to sound out words is excellent practice for learning how to read. Sometimes, reading practice can feel boring for children. Make it fun so that your child will want to do it.

Also, remember to change up the word cards to keep the game fresh and challenging. 

I love how this game also helps prepare for reading comprehension because you must read the word and think about what it means to act it out. 

Have you tried action word games with your child? Did you get the chance to download the cards and try them? Leave a comment below! 

action cards Pinterest Pin

More Montessori Resources

Montessori Action Activity Cards for Reading

lesson 28 mockup action cards
action cards printable pin

* If you would like to download the action activity cards set 1 and set 2 that I made, as well as the lesson plan PDF, sign up for the resources library below. If you’re already a subscriber, be sure to get the most recent password from my latest email. 

34 thoughts on “Exciting Action Cards To Try (Have A Blast With Reading!)”

  1. I love this idea. I never thought to do these types of word activities with my son when he was little. We did do flash cards. His favorite was the animals.

  2. as always, your posts have so much information and details on how to make these learning activities possible for young learners

  3. This is such a great way to help with reading. The cards are so convenient for teaching different words. It is nice to have a variety of teaching aids.

  4. barbie ritzman

    I love the idea of action cards. It’s great to see that there are some learning options that are not computer-related.

    1. Hi Barbie,

      I completely agree with you! Montessori is all about hands-on, screen-free learning. The Action Cards lesson for reading is an example of this!

  5. It is an awesome idea with action cards for reading. I help my 5-year-old son with his sight words during this spring break. We will try action cards tomorrow.

  6. Creating action cards for teaching children to read can be a thrilling and interactive experience. It allows kids to engage in hands-on learning, making the process enjoyable and effective.

  7. This is a very great idea. I heard that action card are really helpful and nice for the individuals to have one and do it.

  8. Action cards are the best way to help your children learn. I used to make them for my kids now I make them for my grandkids.

  9. What a delightful approach to teaching reading skills! The action card games make learning feel like playtime while still providing valuable reading practice.

  10. This is so fun and educating at the same time. Learning words with these Montessori cards is a blast. Thanks for sharing!

  11. I really like this because it turns reading into an active, fun game for kids. When children act out the words, they’re more engaged and likely to remember what they learn.Thanks for sharing.

  12. Action cards can come in really useful when teaching children to read. They can also make learning to read fun and are a great way to help children remember due to the actions involved for each of the cards.

    1. Hi Melanie,

      That’s an excellent point! The Montessori action cards help the children to remember because they have to act them out after reading them.

  13. I wish I had known about this when my kids were little. This would have been a fun activity to do with them.

  14. Your action cards are such a brilliant tool for fostering positive behavior and habits! I love how they encourage mindfulness and accountability in such a fun and engaging way. Keep up the fantastic work!

    1. Hi Kimberly,

      Thank you so much for your kind words! I agree that the action cards lesson can encourage mindfulness!

  15. This is such a great way to make learning to read more fun for the kids. It turns it into a game, and kids love games.

  16. These are such a wonderful idea for small kids! I know mine would have loved these when they were tiny.

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