Reading is a foundational skill that the majority of future academic successes are built upon. Writing, grammar and vocabulary can all be strengthened by simply reading more.
Avid readers are better able to form sentences correctly and write them easily, along with using proper grammar and having larger vocabularies than children who read less frequently or tend to avoid reading altogether.
Reading comprehension also allows children to excel academically with less oversight from educators and makes them confident enough to proactively seek information for themselves, as opposed to waiting for the information to be presented to them.
Children who consume a diverse selection of reading material tend to be more creative and imaginative. Reading even plays a role in personal safety since many important warnings are communicated with signs.
Overall, reading is the basis for all other learning that a child will do over the course of their lifetime, which is why it’s so crucial to help them become the best readers they can be.
Luckily, building this skill isn’t dependent on formal lessons and worksheets—children can easily improve their reading skills with exposure to good models, guided learning games and word games. Here are 20 of our favorite 2nd grade games to play in class to help break up the school day!
1. Scavenger Hunt
This activity teaches children how important reading is without the activity being focused specifically on reading. Make a list of five to ten clues leading to different locations around the classroom. At each location hide a stamp, stickers or a different colored marker.
Once students decipher the clues and find the correct location, they mark their list with the marker found at that location. This activity can be done individually or in small groups.
2. 20 Questions: Vocabulary Edition
Write down class vocabulary words on strips of paper and throw them into a hat. Students will take turns coming to the front of the classroom and picking a word.
First, they say the number of letters in the word, then the rest of the class takes turns asking yes or no questions to try and figure out what the word is.
Encourage creative questions, and add words that aren’t on the class vocabulary list if there aren’t enough for everyone to choose a word.
3. Hopscotch Spelling
Use chalk outside (or masking tape inside) to make four hopscotch maps with each map having seven letters in them (one full alphabet among all four maps; the letters don’t need to be in order).
Get the class into a line at the hopscotch maps. Call out one of the vocabulary words, and the kids take turns jumping one at a time to the correct letters to spell the word.
If the word is “amaze,” the first kid in line goes to the map with “a” and jumps to “a,” and the second kid goes to the map with an “m” and jumps to “m,” etc. If you want to make it more exciting, put a time limit on how long they can take to spell each word!
4. Story Puzzle
Pick a common story, like a fairy tale, that the whole class is familiar with. Have them tell you something that happens in the story in any order. Write the events down on a whiteboard so the whole class can see them.
Once everyone has agreed that they’ve covered all the main events of the story, have students take turns putting the events in order. Discuss how events are related to each other and help them learn how every action causes other actions to occur.
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5. Word Search
Have students create their own word searches by filling out graph paper with their class vocabulary words and then filling it in with random letters. Once everyone has finished, have them trade word searches with a friend and circle all the vocabulary words!
6. Vocabulary Story
Write down vocabulary words on strips of paper and put them in a hat. Next, start a story with a simple prompt, like “One day, when I was walking down the road…” Then, have students pull a vocabulary word from the hat and continue the story until they’ve used the vocabulary word.
Make sure to go around the classroom at least once, but this game can go on all day by putting the words back into the hat and repeating them as often as they come up. The random nature can lead to some funny repetitions!
7. Favorite Author
Help students look up their favorite authors online. Most authors have a professional website that displays their books and usually has a frequently asked questions page about them and their work.
Have your students provide answers to questions like “What is the author’s birthday?” “What are some books they’ve written?” or “Which of their books is your favorite?”
If the author’s website has a contact form, encourage students to write a letter to the author to tell them how much they love their books—lots of authors will write back.
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8. D.E.A.R.: Drop Everything and Read
Another nice and relaxing way to break up the day is to shake up your lesson plan and take a class reading break! This activity is useful on days when kids don’t seem to be engaged in the lessons and need something a little different to reset and get back into the learning mood.
Like the acronym says, just drop everything and read. Math books closed, reading books open. You can also do this as a read-aloud/read-along, where you read to the kids and they follow along in the text.
9. Creative Reading Spaces
When students are having a designated reading period, encourage them to sit on the floor or against a wall or take them to another area in the building, like the library. Moving around and changing the setting will help them switch their brains over from one activity to another.
10. Share Your Favorite Book
This activity is like a book report but less formal. Students take turns going to the front of the class and talking about their favorite book. Make sure they include the title, author and a short description of what the book is about.
If more than one student likes the same book, have them share different parts or favorite characters and encourage them to try other books that other students like.
11. Story Charades
Divide the class into groups of four or five. Have each group choose a story that the rest of the class will be familiar with. Then take turns having each group come to the front of the classroom and act out the story without words. The other groups have to try to guess what the story is.
12. Book Costume Party
Choose a theme related to a book the class is reading. Have kids make masks and/or hats out of construction paper, using markers to decorate them.
The class will have fun dressed as their favorite characters, and can even pretend to be the characters and have conversations with each other about the events in the book.
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13. Compare and Contrast
Find several different versions of the same fairy tale, and read each of them to the class. Have students discuss which elements were the same in every version and which ones were different. Which version did they like best, and why? How could the story be improved?
14. Pitch a Sequel
After your class has finished reading a book, have them come up with ideas for what a sequel would be like. They can choose a title and draw book covers and write up a short summary. This activity is a perfect candidate to turn into a classbook!
You can easily use our free publishing kits to help your students design a whole catalog of sequel stories!
This classbook will absolutely be a fun collectible for students and parents to keep as a memento from second grade! It could even be an artifact from an alternate timeline where these sequels were published and added to the literary canon!
15. Design a Map
Have your students draw a map of the setting from a book they are reading (or the setting from their favorite book). Aside from including the important landmarks and labeling all the relevant places, they can also draw a line showing the characters’ paths through the story!
16. Alphabet Posters
Students should write down the alphabet on a large piece of paper, leaving plenty of room between each letter. Next, students choose a word for each letter, write the word and draw something to represent it.
The main points are comprehension and vocabulary, so make sure your students can explain what each word means. Give special recognition to any students who come up with a word that no one else did!
17. Sticky Note Mind Map
Divide your class into three or four groups. Each group is assigned a character from a story your class recently read. The groups get a stack of sticky notes and a wall to put them on.
Have them write something about the character on each sticky note—a description, a character trait, something they did in the story, etc—and then put the notes on the wall, categorizing them in whatever way makes the most sense to them.
18. Personalized Bookmark
Each student is given a long piece of paper to design their own bookmark. This can be based on a specific book, genre or author they love.
Once they’re done creating their bookmarks, make sure to laminate them so none of the art transfers from the bookmark to the pages of the books they use it with.
19. Comprehension Ball
Get a beach ball and write a question on each section with permanent marker. These questions can be general so they’ll work for any story, or they can be about a specific story you want to focus on
Tip: Permanent marker can be removed from the beach ball’s surface with rubbing alcohol, in case you want to switch it up.
Have students stand in a circle and play some music. Roll or throw the ball into the circle and have students roll or throw the ball to each other until the music stops.
When the music stops, the last student to catch the ball has to answer whatever question their thumb is touching. Then start the music back up and repeat!
20. Sentence-by-Sentence Storytelling
Start with a prompt sentence like “Dolphins are the best animals in the ocean” or “I woke up this morning on Mars,” and then have your students continue it.
Go around the room adding sentences one by one until you’ve gone around the room at least twice (or if the story is too funny to continue!).
For an extra challenge, require all sentences to start with the same letter (for example, the dolphin story would have sentences that all start with the letter D), or require that the next sentence has to start with the letter that comes after the last letter in the previous sentence.
Turn your students into published authors with help from Studentreasures!
Every teacher understands that reading is foundational for his or her students’ future success, and a great way to motivate your students to put more effort into their work is by giving them the opportunity to publish it.
Many reading activities and projects can easily be turned into a themed classbook for your students to have a collaborative resource to refer back to during the year—and to hang onto as a keepsake once the year is over!
Just pick an activity—or several!—then choose the student work you want to use in the classbook, and get started with one of our easy-to-use classbook publishing kits.
For more lesson plans, classroom activities, and resources, check out our online Teacher’s Lounge. In addition, you can also refer to our blog for teaching strategies, writing activities, and writing prompts for your young students.