The Reading Game teaches beginning reading strictly through sight words. The set consists of six 32-page readers, six sets of word cards (60 cards per set), six sets of “captioned picture flashcards” (3 cards per set), and the eight-page "The Reading Game Rules and Guide." The Reading Game is well designed. It comes in a sturdy box with divided sections that hold the opened decks of word cards. (It’s a real time saver when I don’t have to use rubber bands or baggies to contain the card decks!)
The six readers are titled Skunk, Snake, Bear, Penguins, Unicorn, and Zebra. One set of word cards and one set of captioned picture flashcards are designed to be used with each reader. Each set (a reader, word cards, and captioned picture flashcards) teaches 30 new words, many of them drawn from lists of high-frequency words. So a total of 180 words are taught in The Reading Game.
The first set teaches words such as this, they, sad, cat, play, stay, do, and what. Each set adds words that gradually get more difficult. The third set teaches words such as after, are, awake, his, honey, know, and where. The sixth set introduces words such as alphabet, dolphin, should, could, goes, goose, hen, hop, loose, and vulture.
The readers and their associated cards must be used in order since the words taught in each reader are incorporated in each subsequent reader, along with the 30 new words that will be introduced.
A tutor needs to work with the student. That work begins with the deck of word cards for Skunk. Each deck of 60 cards has two of each card. The reverse sides of the cards are labeled with the animal picture and a number from one to six, so it's easy to pick out the cards you need. The 30 new words will be introduced five at a time.
To begin, the tutor selects the first ten skunk cards which are labeled with the number 1─two cards each for the first five words─and lays them out upside down to play a Memory game. This game helps students begin to develop word recognition, the basis of sight-reading. Both tutor and child will say the words on the cards when they claim a matching pair. Of course, the tutor will have to help the child at first with new words. They will keep playing Memory until the child has mastered the five words.
The next five words are introduced in the same way. After ten words have been learned, the tutor shows the child the first captioned picture flashcard. Each of these cards has a photo with sentences underneath it that are made with words that the student has learned thus far. By the way, these sentences also serve as an introduction to sentence structure with a capital at the beginning and a period, question mark, or exclamation point at the end. (The tutor will need to explain this.)
Another two sets of five words are introduced, followed by the next captioned picture flashcard, then the same thing is done with the final two sets of new words and the third captioned picture card in that set.
Once students can read the word and sentences, they will read the first reader. The readers are illustrated with black-and-white drawings. The style of the drawings is unusual for readers. The drawings often have dark shading and occasionally include ferocious-looking animals, so they seem a little ominous to me for beginning readers.
Each of the six sets (with a set consisting of a reader, word cards, and the captioned picture card) works in the same fashion: they introduce new words, then review previously learned words within the sentences and readers.
The website has free downloadable files with six pretests and posttests that can be used with each set. There’s a class recording sheet for keeping track of student progress if that’s useful to you. There is a “Test Sentence Assessment” file that has sentences somewhat similar to those on the captioned picture cards, but with slightly different wording and no capitalization at the beginning of sentences or punctuation at the end. You might use these as a way to introduce reading words together, then introduce students to the properly-formatted sentences on the captioned picture card, but it’s optional.
Even though The Reading Game was designed as a way to teach beginning reading through sight words, I think it might function even better after a child has begun to learn to read with a phonics method. It would then provide review for words a student has already learned, and it would teach or reinforce sight words along with some advanced phonetic words that a student might not yet have learned.