Want kids to read more (and want to read more)? Try some reading challenges. Reading challenges are a great way to tap into kids’ competitive spirit, encourage consistent reading, and foster a sense of achievement. If you want to know how to motivate kids to read, reading challenges are a great start.
4 reading challenges to motivate kids to read — and practice phonics too!
Reading challenges can encourage students to read for pleasure and reinforce phonics skills along the way! Any of these challenges can be adapted to whatever phonics patterns or sounds you are working on.
The Top Notch Literacy Club offers lots of phonics resources to help you introduce and teach different phonics patterns and sounds. The resources also help students identify and recognize relevant words.
1. Phonics adventure challenge
Encourage students to embark on a phonics adventure by reading books or stories that feature specific phonics patterns or sounds. After reading a book, they can identify and highlight the phonics elements they found in the text.
For example, if you are working on long a sounds, students can highlight examples of the long a sound, which will reinforce the idea of multiple spellings of that sound.
You can make a map with different spots marked on it. Each location can be a different phonics sound/pattern, or you can use the map to track how many books students read focused on one sound/pattern. Students can trace their progress on the map until they have covered the different sounds or read a certain number of books.
2. Passport challenge
Create a “phonics passport” for each student. Each page of the passport can represent a different phonics pattern. Students will track the phonics elements they find in their reading by adding stamps or stickers to the passport as they encounter words with those patterns.
Want to see what words students are finding? Have them do a quick “travelogue” showing which words they found in which books.
If you are using gamification in your classroom, students can earn a new World Traveler badge for completing this challenge.
3. Reading Olympics
Design a reading challenge inspired by the Olympics! Each Olympic “event” in this challenge is a different phonics pattern or sound. For example, students can compete to find words with specific digraphs or long vowel sounds.
You could divide students into “countries.” Let students choose which “events” they want to compete in. Give medals for completion of an event. Encourage students to medal in as many events as they can and see which team can get the most medals.
4. Word safari
Have students go on a safari to find words with specific phonics elements. Students will search their everyday environment for words that fit the challenge. This gets students reading text everywhere, including books, online resources, signs, menus, and more.
You can offer badges for most words found, most unusual source for a word, most interesting word found, more challenging words, most different sources where words were found, or other criteria.
Kick off your reading challenge or celebrate at the end
Kick your reading challenge off with a week of games that get kids phonics focused and practicing spelling. Try the Spelling Game Challenge, with a new game to try each day.
Get your free Spelling Game Challenge:
Alternately use a week of games as a reward for completing the reading challenge. Either way, kids get more phonics practice while keeping it fun. Looking for more resources to keep kids engaged? Check out The Top Notch Literacy Club for ready-to-use games, worksheets, and more.