Dr. Wendy C. Kasten

Literature-Based Board Games


Purpose: To create a venue for readers to practice texts in an enjoyable manner and to force readers to use semantic (context) strategies during reading.


Materials: Any good story of sufficient length, folk tale, or picture book. Adjust this strategy to different age groups and reading abilities with the difficulty of the story or book being used. Can be adapted for early readers (use shorter, predictable books) and intermediate/middle school readers (use longer stories, adult short stories, longer folk tales, or chapters from novels. Makes an excellent learning center or learning station.


File folders or poster board

Index cards or other tag board in at least three colors

Envelopes or small plastic bags

Game tokens, buttons, or bottle caps

Laminating material

Scissors or paper cutter

Markers or pens or crayons


Design a game board using poster board or a file folder (the latter stores better). Use three different colors or tag board, create 7-12 spaces of each, and arrange on the board alternating colors (blue, pink, and yellow, for example), in some pattern, from a starting space to a finish space. Decorate as desired. Laminate for long-term use.


Take text from the story or book and use it to create three kinds of activities. Organize each activity around one of the three colors also used on the game board. The three kinds of activities are:


Vocabulary Cards Take a phrase or sentence from the story or book. Place it (handwritten, typed, or word-processed) on the card, underlining a more challenging or interesting word that some students may not understand the meaning of. The directions can state that when players land on the (pink) spaces on the board, they pick up a (pink) card, read the card to other players and explain the meaning of the underlined word. Prepare about 1 as many cards in this color as there are matching spaces on the game board.



Cloze Cards Again, Take a phrase or sentence from the text, place it on the (blue) card, but delete one key word leaving a blank space. Players who land on (blue) spaces, pick a (blue) card, read it to their players, and predict a word that makes sense in the blank space. The response is correct if the other players agree. If there is disagreement, players must look back in the book to find the text. Prepare about 1 as many cards in this color as there are matching spaces on the game board.


Sentence Sets - Take a phrase or sentence from the text, place it on the (yellow) card which has been cut into a strip. Omit the beginning sentence capital, end sentence punctuation, but preserve other kinds of punctuation and proper nouns. Cut the sentence apart in 2, 3, 4, or sometimes 5 pieces (for added challenge). Vary these within a game (some 2s, some 3s, maybe one or two 4s and one 5). When a player lands on a (yellow) space, they chosoe an envelope containing the pieces of one sentence, read the pieces, and construct a meaningful sentence. Other players must agree the sentence is reasonable, if not identical to that in the original. Be careful not to make too many sets of five, and never cut sentences apart word for word (or else it is too hard even for the teachers!). Prepare about 1 times as many sentences in envelopes as there are matching spaces of that color on the board.


Prepare directions for the game for 2-4 players. All players must read the book together each time the game is played. Consider having the game end when everyone arrives at the finish. Use a die, old spinner, or make a die from a piece of sponge.


ESL Adaptation: Since second language learners have a limited vocabulary, omit the vocabulary cards. Use just 2 activities instead, the cloze cards and the sentence sets.


Middle School Adaptation: Older students still like games. Consider making a game for a novel they are reading together. Prepare one set of cards for a middle chapter or two, and perhaps another for when they have completed the book.


Early Reader Adaptation: Early readers may need the book or story read to them. Someone, such as a more proficient reader, can read the cards to them. They can do the rest fairly well.


Hints: Be sure to code sentence pieces placed in envelopes so they can be easily reunited and put away at the end of play. A letter or number code works well. A generic game board could be used for more than one game. Store game parts in plastic bags , envelopes, or portfolios.


Assessment: Students need practice that is not evaluated. This is a form of practice. It is an opportunity for kid-watching, however, to observe reading strengths, needs, and cooperative skills in students.


Copyright Kasten, Kristo, & McClure, 2004

Literature Based Games