When you're a seasoned reader, the idea of word recognition is often taken for granted. After all, it's been years since you had to sound out the word "to." But for preschoolers, word recognition offers a steady foundation for reading skills. Teach basic word recognition using simple high frequency words like "am," "to," "and," "the" and "can" by playing creative games that get your newbie reader ready to learn and connect sentences without ever slowing down.

Word Recognition Bingo

Your child won't even realize that you're getting her used to sight words with word bingo. Make a four-by-four card made up of 16 squares. Fill each square with a common sight word and make a similar -- but not exactly the same -- card for yourself. Write each word down on a separate slip of paper and toss them all in a bowl. Give out cereal pieces for markers and then start drawing from the bowl. Your child has to find the right word in order to get a line and scream out "Bingo!"

Word Catcher

Props make everything more fun, so grab a fly swatter and play "Word Catcher" with your burgeoning readers. Cut out slips of paper (nab extra parent points if they're shaped like bugs) and print a high frequency word on each slip. Spread them all onto the floor and then give your child the fly swatter. Tell her she has to kill the bugs quickly, so when you say a word, she needs to find that one as fast as she can and slap it to win.

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Go Fish

Split a deck of cards in half. Then, create two identical sets of sight words on separate slips of paper and affix those slips to the cards. With two sets of card, you'll be ready to play a game of word recognition Go Fish. Same rules apply -- hand out five or six cards to each player and make sure your little one can say each word before asking the other players if they have a "can." First one to end up without any cards in their hand wins.

Word Oops

A good game to play with siblings, Word Oops levels the playing field for those who know their high frequency words and those who are just beginning. Create a deck of cards from your child's sight words and then intersperse 5 to 10 cards that say "OOPS!" on them in the deck. The first player draws from the deck and shows the card to the other players before saying what it says. If he gets it right, he gets to keep the card. If he's wrong, it goes back in the deck. The game play continues unless someone gets an "OOPS!" card -- then that person has to return his cards to the deck and start again, discarding the "OOPS!" out of the deck altogether. Whoever is holding the most cards by the end of the game is the winner.

About the Author

Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.