Updated: Apr 18
I have seen for myself how well games can work for helping children learn to read and write at home during distance learning but I have also learned that not just any old game will do. Games should be genuinely fun (as all learning should be!) as well as interactive, and of course accessible on tablets as well as computers so that kids can play them more easily. I wanted to see how many games that fit this description (that are also completely free) are out there and have put together a trustworthy, teacher-approved list for you.
I have scoured the internet - seriously I spent hours - looking for games that will help kids take those first important steps towards learning to read at home and games that are interactive where kids can improve their blending skills.
I have been very strict about listing only games that
are completely free
don’t require flash
can be used on any device
are actually FUN
support children with CVC words
What are CVC words?
CVC stands for Consonant - Vowel - Consonant. So a CVC word is made from this pattern of letters. CVC words are the very first words that children encounter as they learn to read because they are the easiest.
What’s an example of a CVC word?
An example of a CVC word that kids come across early on as they begin reading would be mat. Other first CVC words could be sat, cat, tap, map, rat etc.
Reading CVC words
Before beginning to read CVC words, kids should know the sounds that some letters of the alphabet make. They don’t need to know every single letter sound necessarily but they’ll need enough to make a few simple words. Keep in mind that knowing the vowel sounds - a, e, i, o, u - will be helpful for them to be able to read more CVC words.
How to sound out CVC words
When children read words they are taught to say each of the sounds the letters make and then attempt to blend or put the sounds together, to get the word. For example, when reading sat correctly kids should first say “sss-ah-t” and then as they get better at blending they will be able to put the sounds together more and more easily and get the word.
CVC words and sight words
What’s the difference between CVC words and sight words? Whereas CVC words can be ‘sounded out’ using the sounds of the letters that the child has learned, ‘sight words’ or ‘tricky words’ are irregular. This means that the letters in the words aren’t pronounced the typical way that children are taught. For example we. If you were to try to read the word we by saying the sounds of the letters W and E, you’d say ‘w-eh’. Tricky words or sight words simply have to be memorised so that they can be recognised on sight.
CVC words games online
I have scoured the internet for the best CVC word games which include four focuses. Some of the games require the child to match a CVC word to a picture which is good because it means kids can play the games on their own, promoting independent learning. A few of the games focus on thinking about whether a CVC word is a ‘real’ word or a ‘fake’ word. (Also known as ‘alien’ words or even ‘silly’ words in my classroom!) Some games help kids sound out CVC words which supports their early reading skills and some support writing as they teach kids how to blend CVC words.
Free phonics websites
These games are all from free phonics websites where you can access tablet-friendly CVC word games. No sign up required. Some games ask which Phase you want to practise - select Phase 2. If you are asked which sets you want to practise you should choose the sets of letters that your child has covered. If you’re not sure I’d say select them all and then see which sounds your child isn’t familiar with yet, start again and uncheck those ones. Alternatively, you could teach your child the unfamiliar sounds and then practise them straight away on these games!
If you visit other areas of these sites keep in mind that Phonics Play is offering full free access at the moment for home learning and that Topmarks contains other games which are Flash-based that won’t work on mobile devices.
Here are the tablet-friendly and interactive CVC word games that I have found for you online:
Games for sounding out CVC words
This is a great one for kids who are brand new to words and I love the idea of a machine that spits out words along with the object that matches the word. Choose which middle vowel you’d like to practice and then children see a picture that shows what the word says, hear it sounded out and then hear the word itself. The word machine then says “Now your turn” and your child should have a go at saying the sounds and then the word.
The best part about Word Machines is that after kids sound out and say the word they get to choose whether to swap the first or the last consonant from the word to make a new word by pressing a big red button or by pulling a lever! This is a really helpful way to teach beginner blenders how to read that I use in the classroom too.
Real and fake words phonics games
Differentiating between real and fake words is great practice for children to be able to understand what they are reading which will be more and more important as they get older. These games help even the youngest kids start to work on their reading comprehension in really fun and interactive ways.
Obb and Bob
This game is set in space where kids see alien characters: Obb and Bob. Bob loves real words and Obb loves alien words! I use the idea of Obb and Bob characters often in my own classroom, as do other teachers, so it's possible that your kids may even know them already! Children have to read the word by sounding it out and then decide whether it’s a real word or an alien word. They should drag the alien words onto Obb and the real words over to Bob!
This game is so popular that there are actually several versions of it across the internet but the best ones are on Phonics Bloom, where it is (mistakenly maybe) titled Odd and Bob and on Phonics play where the game is called Picnic on Pluto.
Buried Treasure is the exact same concept as Obb and Bob where kids sound out the words and then decide if they are real or fake words except this game is pirate-themed! Kids will have to drag the word onto the bin if they think it’s a fake word but into the treasure chest if they think it’s real. I love the whistling tune that plays when you get one right! A great interactive game with funny pirate sound effects that kids who are into pirates will love.
Another real or fake word sorting game but this time featuring dragons who breathe fire when you give them a word! Dragons den is exciting and interactive and is another great option for kids who need that bit of extra practice with their blending but would like a change from aliens and pirates!
CVC word matching games
Kids have to sound out the word and then drag the picture that matches the word onto it. I’m a big fan of Match Cards because it’s SO clear and child-friendly that a young child could easily play it by themselves and won’t need help once they know how the game works.
CVC word writing practice
The rocket is broken! Children are shown a picture and hear the word aloud (so turn your volume up!) and they have to type in the CVC word to help put the rocket back together. Each word that they type in adds another piece and the rocket is slowly put back together.
My favourite thing about Rocket Rescue is that the kids get to actually type the word in - this is so great for kids to interact with technology in different ways and get some early typing practise in! It’s also an added fun element because many kids will enjoy the use of the computer keyboard or an on-screen keyboard in itself.
Obb and Bob are back! In this game, kids are spelling out the CVC words to help the spaceship zoom across space from planet to planet so that Obb and Bob can be reunited! This game does include the odd longer word, like rabbit, so may be better for children who are already very familiar with phase 2 sounds and have a good grasp of blending already.
On the other hand, if you’d like your child to begin to move on from CVC words and help kids read longer words then Space Race would be an ideal starting place. Kids could be encouraged to type out their answer and then check it by sounding out what they have written so see if they think it’s right.
CVC Word Boom Cards
I made three decks of CVC word Boom Cards where kids drag the missing letter into the gap to complete the CVC word. Start by practising filling in the missing first letter and then move on to the decks where kids practise working out the missing middle sound and the missing last sound of the CVC word. Pictures on each card help kids to guess what the incomplete word could be and with the CVC word Boom Card bundle, you can play all three of the decks.
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