9 Effective Games And Activities To Develop Reading Skills For Preschoolers

When children learn how to read, it helps them to get introduced to may concepts and subjects, therefore helping them build a better understanding about the world around them. There are many games and activities to develop reading skills for preschoolers, and this article covers some prominent ones.

It is important to note that the games and activities discussed below can be facilitated by parents at home and teachers at school.

In this article:

  1. Open discussion
  2. Timer sessions
  3. Playing with puppets or dolls
  4. Completing the story
  5. Find the partner
  6. Make it & Say it
  7. Matching words
  8. Secret message
  9. Fishing the word

Activities to Develop Reading Skills

To start with, let us look at activities for developing reading skills, which will then be followed by games for developing reading skills.

1. Open Discussion

Facilitating open discussions during the prime hours or during what is popularly called as Circle Time, can help benefit children’s vocabulary. Common topics like favourite pets, favourite foods, or other similar topics can be introduced to children.

It is important that the teacher or facilitator is good at facilitation skills, so that it helps the children feel encouraged to freely and actively participate in the discussions. Only then will the children be able to connect to the world around, understand them, and subsequently go even beyond.

One of the most important skills required for facilitating discussions is to ask the right questions. The parent or teacher should therefore, over time, learn to ask the right questions to children that would help extract thoughts, opinions and experiences.

2. Timer Sessions

This is an effective activity that helps children to express themselves in terms of their thoughts and experiences. Children can be given anywhere between 3 to 10 minutes, administered by a timer, where each one would talk about on topic or event.

For example, a child who has a new sibling can talk about his or her arrival, how does it feel to become an elder brother or sister, how would he/she want to spend time with the baby, etc.

Not just the parent or teacher, even the child’s sibling or classmate too can ask questions to make the session more interactive and engaging.

3. Playing with Puppets or Dolls

Similar to how preschools have a book corner, space for a doll and/or a puppet corner can also be incorporated.

This can be kind of a private space where children can use these puppets or dolls to talk about how they feel about something, their ideas, or even narrate a story to the doll or puppet.

This kind of activity where the child is with himself/herself matters, as it is important that children are allowed to be with themselves for at least an hour per day if not more.

4. Completing The Story

This is one of the best activities to develop reading skills in preschoolers, as it can promote a child develop creativity.

Completing the story is a game, where the facilitator narrates anywhere between one to three lines of an already existing story, or a story that never happened.

After narrating a few lines, the rest of the story should be completed by the child. This is a very powerful and effective activity, as it encourages children to use their imagination, especially through visualisation, and creatively weave a story, thinking on their feet, using the one to three lines as a thread.

Games to Develop Reading Skills

While activities themselves can be effective, games can take things one step further. Let’s look at some of them.

1. Find the Partner

This is a card game which can be changed or modified according to the concept that needs to be driven for children to learn.

For example, if the children need to be taught the concept of Opposite Words, the game can go like this:

Small flash cards with words and/or pictures, which are opposites of another word, should all be placed on the floor.

Example of flash cards can be words like:

  • Big
  • Small
  • Day
  • Night, etc.

The number of cards should be equal to the number of children in the class. If the number of children is an odd number, the teacher can include herself/himself.

A nice peppy music can be played and the facilitator can ask children to move around the cards kept on the floor.

When the music stops, each child should stand in front of one flashcard

They should then search for his or her pair, which is the person who has the card with the opposite word

This card game can be changed to teach different concepts such as:

  • Capital & Small letters
  • Word & Action
  • Matching the Letter to the Word, etc.

2. Make It & Say It

An activity with play dough is something almost all children enjoy a lot, as they can see, feel and experience the play dough transforming from just a round shaped ball when it was given to them, to a shape that they created on their own.

For this activity, children can be divided into different groups, with each child within a group having their own play dough. The groups can be asked to make different objects out of the clay and narrate a story about the clay models designed by them.

They can be asked about things like:

  • Why did they choose to design the model they have?
  • Where did they get the inspiration from?
  • Have they tried creating it before?
  • Would they like to keep the model or gift it to someone?
  • If they decide to keep it, then where would like to keep it?
  • If they decide to gift it, why did they want to?

3. Matching Words

To play this game:

  • Choose between 5 to 10 words from a book the child is reading
  • Print the words on the cards
  • Shuffle the cards
  • Place them face down in the form of rows
  • Each child is supposed to pick two cards
  • If the two cards match in terms of rhyming, then the child keeps them

If the cards do not match, the cards are placed as it were, and the next player gets the chance.

4. Secret Message

This is an activity that involves children painting on a word/words that is/are written on a paper to decipher the message.

  • Write a few words or a short story on a plain white paper with a white crayon
  • Ensure that the words are written well
  • Children should be given brushes and bright colour paints
  • Once children paint on the place where the words are written, the secret message gets revealed
  • This message should be read out by the child

This is an effective activity that can be repeated to introduce relatively bigger words for children.

5. Fishing The Word

This is another activity which children will have great fun with, especially because it involves hand-eye coordination.

  • Give children a smaller version of a fishing rod with magnet attached to its end
  • Make cutouts of fishes of different colours with different words written on them
  • Stick a small piece of iron below each fish cutout so it can stick to the magnet
  • Place them all on the floor in rows with some space between them
  • Ask the children to ‘fish’ 5 to 10 words (depending on the time available)
  • Let them read reach one of them aloud and create a story using them


Play is an intrinsic drive in children, and is the basis for learning. It motivates them to explore, experience and interact with their surroundings. It makes their learning meaningful and memorable.

Adopting the above games and activities to promote reading skills is an excellent way to make children learn and lay the foundation for further development.

Though traditionally play is confined to early childhood years, a growing body of research suggests that play, as a transactional method, should be adopted for all age groups.