Reading Games for 4th Grade

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Fourth graders are often independent readers but need a push to keep up their vocabulary and critical thinking development. These games help you teach important skills while making learning fun.

Why Play Games?

As teachers, we know how important it is to keep learning fun. By fourth grade, many of our students are already independent readers, or readers who are able to decode fairly well and choose books that meet their interests and needs. However, fourth graders are still developing their vocabulary, or word knowledge, and their critical thinking skills, or ability to question what they learn about via reading and apply it to real-life situations. Games can be a great way to push students' thinking about reading and encourage them to be deep and meaningful readers, while still enjoying reading and participating in the social aspects of literacy.

Fourth graders are often ready to think about books on newly abstract levels, and they can enjoy word play. The games in this lesson are designed to push your fourth-grade readers' fluency, decoding and comprehension while emphasizing the pleasure to be taken from reading.

Mad Libs and Cloze Activities

Have you ever wondered how you can teach your fourth graders about parts of speech, or the types of words we use in language, like nouns, verbs and adjectives? Incorporating Mad Libs into your literacy time can be a great way to practice parts of speech, reading comprehension and fluency all at once.

You can make your own Mad Libs by taking a short story or passage and deleting about one word per sentence. Where the word was, leave a blank and then label the part of speech it should be; e.g., adjective. Pair your students up. One student asks his or her partner for relevant parts of speech to fill in the blanks, without showing the passage to the partner. When the story or passage is complete, one of the students reads it out loud to the other. Children usually enjoy the absurdity of stories that come out, and fourth graders are uniquely equipped to enjoy this humor, all the while practicing their fluency, grammar and comprehension.

A variant of Mad Libs is a simpler cloze activity. Cloze activities are passages, stories or sentences with blanks that need to be filled with specific words or types of words. You can make a game out of giving your students song lyrics, poems or stories with words missing and ask them to race to fill the blanks with words that make sense. They can then compare notes.


Dictionary is a great game for building vocabulary. Students play this in small groups, and all you need is a student dictionary. One student holds the dictionary and selects a word that he or she assumes will be unfamiliar to the rest of the group. Then, students write imaginary definitions for this word on note cards and pass them to the original student. That student reads the real definition and the imaginary ones in random order, and students have to guess which definition is the authentic one. Students often get creative and funny in their inventions!

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