Fun Literacy Activities That Encourage Students to Read

Screenshot of an eSpark game featuring an illustrated monster with meatballs containing capital letters.

Encourage your students to read with these fun literacy activities!

One of the best ways to improve student growth in reading is to increase engagement – but that’s usually easier said than done. Not every student will love to read, but there are some fun literacy activities for elementary students that can spark an interest. These activities include hands-on tasks and exciting conversations with friends that will engage any young reader.


1. Dinosaur Discovery

With just baking sheets, sand, letters, and paintbrushes, take your students on an imaginative journey to uncover the buried dinosaur in this literacy activity for preschoolers and young readers. First, place each letter of the word “dinosaur” scrambled on a clean baking sheet. Magnetic letters are perfect for this! Then, write each letter on a piece of paper for students to use as a key. Finally, cover the letters in sand so students can use their paintbrushes to, one letter at a time, discover the hidden dinosaur. Once each letter is found, challenge students to arrange them correctly and spell out the word they uncovered.

Pair this game with a picture book about dinosaurs or a short story about a paleontologist. For a little practice beforehand, try this engaging online game.



2. Storytime Charades

Raise the curtains because it’s showtime! While you read a story to your class, have students write down words that they can act out. It’s best to have them choose more than one in case someone chose the same word. Once the story is finished, students will take turns acting out a word for the class until someone guesses it correctly. Then, have the performing student explain the scene where they found the word.


3. Bookmark Making Literacy Activity

Encourage your students to read with this literacy activity that students can take home with them. After you and your students have read a few books in class, have them create a bookmark based on their favorite character. They can try drawing the character, writing a few words related to them, adding one of the character’s quotes – it’s all up to them! This hands-on activity will spark conversations about these stories and create excitement for further reading.

If your students enjoy this activity, print and share these eSpark coloring bookmarks!


4. Write Your Own Story

If your students are having a difficult time enjoying books and reading activities, have them write the story they want to read. There are no rules, no limitations. Once students have taken enough time to write a story of substantive length, have your students share their stories in pairs or small groups. Hopefully, your students will see that there is a story for everyone, the trick is just to find it.

For some inspiration or help getting started, have your students read this short story for grades kindergarten through second or this short story for grades third through fifth.


5. Read-A-Thon

Fill the slower days before winter break or summer vacation with read-a-thons! Invite your students to bring their favorite books and have a relaxing day of reading. Students reading picture or early reader books should bring at least four to five and students reading chapter books should bring two to three. They can bring pillows, blankets, and a cuddly stuffed toy so they’re as comfortable as can be. This opens up reading as a leisure activity rather than an assignment. You can demonstrate by bringing your own book and taking part!



6. Mystery Date With a Book

Just like your local independent bookstore, try this mystery date with a book for your students. Borrow enough books from your school library and wrap each one for students to take turns selecting at random. Once every student has a book, unwrap the books! Your students will start to share their opinions on the books and become excited about the new stories they’ll be reading.


7. Online Gaming That’s Student-Approved

There are a number of reading games and fun literacy activities for elementary students available online. eSpark offers hundreds of student-approved games, songs, quizzes, and videos in both reading and math. These activities are part of each students’ individual, differentiated learning Quest. Use eSpark during small groups or whole-class reading lessons to easily meet students where they are.

eSpark is free for teachers, so sign up today for easy differentiation and engaging games that encourage students to read.

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