The Gift of Literacy:How Board Games Encourage Literacy. By Shelah Moss

Today’s Post comes from Speech/Language Specialist Shelah Moss.  Shelah talks about the importance of playing board games in developing literacy in children.  Her blog MOSSWOOD CONNECTIONS, is filled with all kinds of activities to enhance language development and literacy.  Here’s Shelah:

We are always looking for playful ways to encourage children to learn. We have found that Board games are a great way to build skills while having fun.

Because we work with children of different ages with a wide variety of skill levels we decided to create a game that can be adjusted for each child’s interests and needs. In the past, we have used Thomas the Tank Engine and Star Wars characters to get kids interested in matching, reading and counting. We can’t include those games here because of copyright laws, but you can take the concept of this game and make your own version.

We also did a category matching game that was lots of fun.
We like to incorporate as many skills as we can into our activities so that we can maximize every teachable moment. This game can encourage memory skills, reading, recognizing numbers and number correspondence, categories, matching, and breath support. Breath support is important for developing stamina as well as producing sounds. We also give you the option to incorporate gross motor by using the gross motor cards.

There are four versions of our DIY Busy Box Matching Games for you to try: Busy Box Numbers Matching Game (A)

(A) Busy Box Numbers Match.

(A) Busy Box Numbers Match.

Busy Box Halloween Matching Game, Busy Box Shapes and Colors Matching Game (B),

(B) Busy Box Shapes and Colors Matching Game

(B) Busy Box Shapes and Colors Matching Game

and Busy Box Sight Words Matching Game.  

Materials Needed to Make Your Own Busy Box Game:
• A Shallow Box 8″ x 12″ or larger
• Straws
• Pom Poms
• Printable Game Sheets

Instructions For Our Own Busy Box Matching Games:
• Place a game board on the bottom of the box. You can use our printable versions or make your own. They are easy to make, the kids can even help with this part of making the game.
• Cut out the matching cards. Again you can make your own cards or use toys and objects that match the targets on the game board.
• Spread the cards out around your play space. You can make it easy or difficult to find depending on the skill level of the kids.
• Cut out the action cards.
• First, have the child pick an action card.                   Busy Box Matching Games
• Have the children use the straws to blow the pom pom in the game box. Whatever the pom pom lands on is what the child has to go and get while doing the action on the card they chose.
• Variations: Instead of pom poms you can use a marble, small ball or a crumpled up piece of paper. Instead of using a straw and blowing, you can use a wind-up toy or spin a top to incorporate fine motor skills.
• The game is over when all the cards have been collected.

Do you have any fun ideas for making your own version of our Busy Box Game?

About Shelah:
After attending college Shelah took some time off to raise her daughter. When she moved back to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1990 she began working for The Family Program for New Beginnings, receiving three years of training in play-based intervention services for children on the autistic spectrum. In 1993 Shelah began to work privately with clients. Her clients have included children on the autism spectrum, anxiety disorders and learning disabilities. She is now a contributor for Mosswood Connections, an educational resource website.

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6 thoughts on “The Gift of Literacy:How Board Games Encourage Literacy. By Shelah Moss

  1. Sheila, Wonderful article! The busy box is a great idea. I am a huge proponent of board games. Recently, my son’s school has been allowing him to bring puzzles out for recess. And the trend seems to be catching on w/many of his classmates.

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