I’ve always loved playing games and one of my favorites is Jenga. Recently, I came across a new Jenga game called Jenga Quake, made for children as young as 6.
The blocks are plastic, not wood, but are about the same shape and size as in the original Jenga. The most notable difference between this game and the original Jenga is that with this game, the blocks get built on a base that intermittently shakes to add an extra challenge to building a tower and then removing blocks. I bought this game for my son to play and he absolutely loved it! He was so engaged in play that I was inspired to find ways to use this for reading instruction, specifically CVC word work and short vowel instruction. I can’t say there is any digital technology included here but I wanted to share this anyway.
So, here is what I did to make this a fun literacy activity for working with individual students or even small groups…
First, I purchased lower-case letter stickers online. From what I have found in stores, I can say there is a wide variety of choices for upper-case letters but it has been more difficult to find lower-case letters. I recommend buying stickers with multiple colors so that the vowels are a different color than the consonants. Here are the stickers that worked for me but you can also find these in letter stickers in single colors. I recommend using the single-color stickers for the consonants and the multi-color ones for the vowels. You’ll want to purchase several packages of these stickers, not just one. I also want to note that these stickers are glittered and have a subtle textured. Also, the letter “a” on these stickers is in the style that most children learn the write it, an important feature for easier letter recognition:
Next, I put all of the Jenga blocks (some are orange and the others are gray) out on the table so that I could put the consonant stickers on the orange blocks and vowel stickers on the gray blocks. This is truly the only preparation needed for this activity.
Some tips for using this game for short vowel and CVC instruction:
- If you want to differentiate for varying levels, you can provide your lower-level groups a list of CVC words you want them to stack and then let the higher-level groups make words without a list. If you are looking for word lists, check out the printable CVC word list created by fellow blogger Anna Geiger of The Measured Mom.
- Since I use this activity for individual tutoring with an Orton-Gillingham inspired approach, I do not give my students a list of words but rather I start by making the first word on the tower and then I ask them to make new words from there. (For example: “What is this word?” and “How would you make the word “mat” and “cap” from this word?”)
- I like to have students first make the next word with the blocks in the same direction as the word before it, tap out the new word and say it aloud and then they can rotate the blocks in the alternate direction before moving on to the next word.
- For my youngest students, I do not always use alternating blocks. Instead, we just stack the new words on top of the previous words, fingertapping and reading them until we run out of blocks.
- When I am working with students on isolated vowel instruction, I like to play this game without building a whole tower. Instead, the vowel being taught remains on the base and my students change the consonants and then read the new word.
Aside from Jenga, if you are looking for other games to use for CVC word work, check out Spelligator, another fun way to practice spelling and reading three (and four) letter words. Spelligator has vowel and consonant tiles as well as some digraphs, blends and vowel teams but I only use the tiles for the concepts I have covered with my students.
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