Articles & Videos

Five favourite Sound Waves games

Paper airplane

Subscribe to our newsletters

Receive teaching resources and tips, exclusive special offers, useful product information and more!


Back to Product Features articles & videos

Five favourite Sound Waves games

Sound Waves Literacy 2/3/12


Games are always a great way to engage and motivate students. A simple game can provide lots of learning and help to reinforce concepts while students have fun.

Many Sound Waves games only require a short amount of time but they can provide valuable insights into phonemes, graphemes and spelling. Below we have outlined a few of our favourites that you might like to try with students if you haven’t done so already.

1. Find It First

This is a simple game that uses the Sound Waves Teaching Charts. Two students stand either side of the charts, each with a pointer in their hand. They compete to be the first to find the correct Sound Box for the clue. The first to score 3 points is the winner.

You can make the game as easy or as difficult as you like. Here are some different versions that you can try.

  • Find the Sound Box for this sound, eg moon.
  • Find the Sound Box for the sound at the start of (give a word), eg nine or chicken.
  • Find the Sound Box for the sound at the end of (give a word), eg fifteen or April.
  • Find the Sound Box for the second sound in (give a word), eg twelve or rescue.
2. Whose Name?

This is a quick, fun game that really gets students thinking. Kids love playing around with the sounds in their names and this seems to be part of the appeal of this game. This game is ideal as a quick game to fill in a few minutes before the bell rings.

The teacher asks questions about the sounds in students’ names beginning each question with, ‘Whose name?’ Students can answer with the first name of any student who is present in the classroom. It is also a good idea to make the rule that they can’t give their own name as an answer.

When designing questions just think of the name of a student and create a question that might be suitable. Create questions that match the ability of the students. Here is an example of some questions you could ask for the name Harry:

  • Whose name has 4 sounds?
  • Whose name starts with house?
  • Whose name has 5 letters and 4 sounds?
  • Whose name ends with bee?
  • Whose name has bee sound but doesn’t contain the letter e?
  • Whose name has robot as the third sound?

Of course there may be other names that will answer some of the questions. This means that for one question there may be 4 or 5 students whose names are appropriate answers.

3. Match Up

This game is played using the relevant BLMs, which can be are accessed via the Sound Waves Teaching Resources. There are many different games available for each level, such as matching words to pictures, matching word beginnings to ending, matching rhyming words and so on.

The game can be played as a Concentration-style game with 2–4 players but there are also other options for using these versatile games.

Partner Match Up

In this game the cards are shared among students. On a signal from the teacher, the students mingle and try to find the classmate with the matching card. When they find their partner, they both sit down side-by-side. When all students are sitting, their cards are checked to make sure each is a correct match. Cards can then be collected and redistributed to play again.

Whole Class Match Up

The BLMs for a game can be enlarged on a photocopier and cut into cards. The class is divided into 2 or 4 teams. The cards can be attached face down to the board and the class can play with teams taking turns to turn over the cards to make a match.

Individual Match Up
  • Option 1: The cards for this game can be made as above and a student can place all cards face up and attempt to match all of the pairs.
  • Option 2: The BLM or BLMs for the game can be printed for each student. Students can then cut the BLM into cards and paste the matching pairs together.
4. Bananas

This game is basically a version of a spelling bee but it is very popular with students who will often beg you to let them play once they have been introduced to the game. It is also quite a quick game with one round only taking about 5 minutes or so.

It is a great game for revising the spelling of the Focus Words, and to make it more interesting, Extension Words can be included.

Students stand in a circle. The teacher nominates a student and says a word. This student gives the first letter of the word. Then the next student gives the next letter and so on around the circle until the word is spelled. The next student then says ‘Bananas’ and the student after this is out and sits down. This continues with more words. Any student who gives a wrong letter is eliminated and any student who is after the person who says ‘Bananas’ is eliminated.

The last student remaining will be the winner. The game moves quite quickly and involves an element of chance so that it is not always the best spellers who win.

5. Table Tennis

Here is another quick game that can be used to practice many different skills. Two students are chosen to play. They are given a criterion for the words that they must name and take turns to give a word. When one player is unable to give a word within 10 seconds or so, the other player then becomes the winner.

Here are some criteria that can be used:

  • Give words that start with a particular sound, eg moon.
  • Give words that contain a particular sound, eg cloud.
  • Give words that start with a particular blend, eg cr or fl.
  • Give words that contain a particular prefix or suffix, eg un or ful.
  • Give words that contain a particular Greek or Latin root, eg tele.
More Sound Waves Literacy articles & videos