reading games, Montessori, picture word matching

5 Beginning Reading Games You and Your Kid Will Love

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Montessori reading games and beginning to read words

We are switching gears and going into the Montessori reading games sequence. At the beginning of the series, we start with “sounding out” single words, one at a time. 

In my previous blog post, I wrote about chalkboard handwriting activitiesThere are a few additional handwriting lessons I haven’t covered yet, but right around this time, your child may also start to express interest in “sounding out” words.

Beginning to read is an exciting time for young children. When I first started teaching in the Montessori classroom, I discovered that the children often have an “aha” moment when they begin to read or sound out words. 

Also, remember to have fun during this exciting time. In this post, I will share with you 5 reading games that I learned from my teacher training that make learning to read intriguing. I’ll also share how it went with my five-year-old daughter, Annie, at home!   

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In This Post

How do you know if your child is ready for reading?

When your child has had a lot of experience with phonemic awareness activities like I-Spy, experience with sandpaper letters, and building words with the moveable alphabet, your child may soon be ready to begin to read and “sound out” words. 

In Montessori, writing comes before reading. I discussed the reason for this in my blog post about the moveable alphabet if you’d like to read more about it. 

At some point, your child will have an “aha” moment with the moveable alphabet, and she may start to sound out and read aloud the words she just wrote. It’s important to remember not to force this but to allow your child to want to do this on her own. 

It can be frustrating for children if they try to read before they are ready. It’s important to remember that every kid is different, and it’s best to follow your child’s lead and begin when your child is ready. In my experience, through observation, you’ll quickly pick up on when a child is ready.

Also, your child may start to “sound out” words everywhere she sees the written word. I noticed with my daughter, Annie, that she began sounding out the titles of picture books we were about to read together or signs we saw while we were out and about. 

Decoding the written word

When your child is ready for this next step in her language journey, she will begin to practice decoding the written word. Essentially, “decoding” is sounding out a word. 

Your child will realize that a written word is a group of sounds that have meaning when pronounced in order. When your child practices reading words through decoding, she is also:

  • realizing that the process of writing and reading is connected with communication
  • learning to read a variety of different words
  • enlarging vocabulary of words to read
  • developing reading comprehension


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Secret Box

According to the US News article, What is ‘Decoding’?,

"Reading experts say decoding involves a series of smaller skills, such as taking apart the sounds in words, known as 'segmenting,' and then blending them together. It also uses knowledge of letter and sound relationships, and the ability to use that knowledge to identify written words and understand what they mean."

The article also says that with decoding, we are converting print to speech by putting together letters to make sounds. We remember these patterns that make syllables and words, and we can read the words. 

Another point the article makes is that it’s essential to “keep things fun” when decoding and sounding out words. Simple games, like the ones I will share in this post, are a great way to keep it fun!

Here are the 5 beginning reading words games

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Object Game

The object game is the first activity in the “Beginning to Read” series. It is a beautiful introductory game because you start with objects that you can hold in your hand. 

For this game, you can start with 10-12 objects with simple phonetic words. For example, some of the objects we used included a pig, lamp, cat, and sled. Some were simple three-letter phonetic words, and some had consonant blends or words with two syllables. 

You will also need a pencil and small slips of paper. You, the adult, will say, “I’m thinking of an object. I will write it down.” Randomly write the word of one of the objects on a piece of paper, and your child will watch you write the word. Then, your child matches the word to the object. Then, you move on to another word at random. 

reading games, Montessori, object game, reading words
Object Game

After practicing with this first set of objects, you can move on to more challenging words with objects containing the double symbol from the green sandpaper letters, such as pail, soap, tree, and fish.

With this game, your child also experiences the connection that writing and reading go together as forms of communication. 

Annie loved this game the most because she loves to hold the small objects!

To learn more about the object game, got to my blog post:

Try These 2 Intro To Reading Words Games And Spark Excitement


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Picture and Word Cards

Next is picture and word matching, which is a classic Montessori activity. In some classrooms, picture and word cards are color-coded as the pink series (simple three-letter phonetic words), blue series (phonetic words with consonant blends and two syllables), and the green series (words with phonograms: oo, ai, ch, th, ee). 

Words can get more challenging to read as you progress through the series. But if you’re starting with a beginning reader, you can make your own picture and word cards and begin with a mix of simple three-letter phonetic words, blends, and two-syllables. Here, we used a combination of words, and Annie had fun decoding all of them. 

reading games, word cards, Montessori, picture word matching
Picture and Word Cards

With the picture and word cards, you can play a game with two people taking turns with the matching cards. You can also use the cards to write words with the moveable alphabet, flipping over the word card to check your work. 

To read more about the picture and word cards, visit my blog post: 

Picture and Word Cards: 2 Cool Games for Beginning Readers

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Activity Cards

You can’t go wrong with fun activity cards! Doing a silly movement or acting out the words is a great motivation to read more words. 

This game is also the beginning of reading comprehension because your child has to think about the word she just read so that she can do the movement. 

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Activity Cards

Activity cards are the first game in this series that doesn’t have a picture or object to give your child a clue to read the word. It can be challenging, but acting out the word is a beautiful point of interest involving your child’s whole body.

Like with the object game, you can start with the adult writing each activity word on a slip of paper. Then, your child reads the word and acts out the word. This is a fun game where a small group of children beginning to read can take turns picking a card; then, they can read and act out the word.  

Annie had a lot of fun acting out the words after she read them. 

To learn more about action activity cards, go to my blog post: 

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

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Long Word Lists

Long word lists are a great choice when your child is ready to move on to a more challenging activity and read multiple words. You can create your own word lists by printing out a list of eight words per card on card stock. Group the words in families on different cards. In the above picture, we started with a word list with words in the “at family.”

You can make lists of words for different three-letter word families (en, ig, op, ut), words with consonant blends and two syllables (wagon, sunset, flag), and green words with phonograms (ee, ch, ai, oo, sh). You can list words in the same family or mix them for more of a challenge. 


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Long Word Lists

With long word lists, you can take turns reading word lists with a friend. You can make up a story with all the words on the list. You can make word lists separated by themes or categories you are working on, such as garden, ocean, or forest words. 

It was a challenge for Annie to get through the long list of words, but she was determined to get to the end of the list. She realized the pattern and rhyming of the words in the “at family,” and it became easier as she reached the end of the list. 

To learn more about word lists, visit my blog post:

Montessori Word Lists And Fun Rhyming For Beginning Readers

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read the word

Secret Box is The last game in the “Beginning to Read” series. You will need a small, attractive box or container with a lid to contain the words. I used card stock to print words on thin one-inch strips that can be folded in half. This way, each word is a “secret.”

Your child can play this game with a small group of 2 or 3 children who are also beginning to read, or you can play with other family members sitting in a circle.

You, the adult, will go first to act as the model. Open the box, pick one folded-up label, and read the word aloud. Place the word opened up in front of you. Then, ask your child to have a turn.  

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pick a word and read it aloud

The ideas are endless with the different series of words you could use. Changing up the words frequently in the box keeps the game interesting. The bonus is that this is an excellent game for practicing reading aloud in front of a group. 

At first, this game seems so simple and silly to us. But the little folded-up cards remind me of a mini “book” that your child can read. It’s a cute activity that feels like you’re reading a little book.

Annie was tickled pink while playing this adorable game! I noticed that recently, she has liked collecting things in boxes, pouches, baskets, or envelopes, so it is a sweet little game to keep her interested in learning to read. 

To learn more about how to do the secret box lesson, go to my blog post: 

Try This Cute Reading Activity: Play A Secret Box Bingo Game

reading games, Montessori, object game
Object Game

Concluding Thoughts about learning to read words

It is a super exciting time when your child gets to the milestone of beginning to read. You’ll know when your child is ready; often, you’ll observe your child decoding or sounding out random words they see around them. 

Start with the “object game” with stuff you have around the house, and you’ll be surprised at how much fun your child has. The object game was Annie’s favorite in the series, but the secret box was a close second!

The critical thing to remember is not to force your child to read if your child is not ready yet. Also, it’s essential to have fun with it! Keep it intriguing and play games to keep the excitement up. 

Note: my upcoming blog posts will go into each of these five learning-to-read games in great depth. Keep an eye out for those.

Has your child started to “sound out” words yet? Which one of the five games would you like to try with your child? Leave a comment below!

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More Montessori Resources

Montessori reading games and beginning to read words

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10 thoughts on “5 Beginning Reading Games You and Your Kid Will Love”

  1. It is good to have some games that also help build reading skills. I always liked incorporating these types of things into my kids activities.

  2. It’s so fun to teach the littles how to read. They get so excited and happy as they’re learning. I love that.

  3. These are great ideas. Just what I need right now as I have several young foreign students whom I’m teaching English to. Thanks

    1. Hi Lani,

      That is amazing! I am so happy you found Montessori reading games helpful for teaching English to your foreign students.

  4. Learning to read has certainly changed since I was in school! Anything that makes learning fun and stimulates the mind is great for me to do with my kids.

  5. These are all wonderful ideas. You really have to make learning fun if you want kids to get excited and engaged about it.

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