Saturday, January 23, 2016

DIY Board Game

As we were chatting about in the comments of my last post about Barton 4, it's crucial to take time to review and practice skills as you go through Barton Reading and Spelling. 

When I first started my daughter in the program I didn't know about the fantastic Spelling Success games so I DIYed some basic games to help her practice. I still use these board games to take a break at the end of tutoring sessions and for fun review of words. 

I wanted a large, colorful board game that would allow me to easily change out the words we were practicing so I could add more difficult words as we learned new concepts. 

First you'll need a large poster board, post-it notes, sharpies, and a large index card. You may also want washi-tape to add color or a pencil to trace things out before using the permanent sharpie. 

Pick a side to be your "Start" and leave room for a big "Start" square/picture. Lay out your post-it notes with a bit of room between.

Trace each post-it with a sharpie. This makes perfectly-sized squares that allow you to change out the post-its or move them around however you want but not need to re-make the entire board game.

Keep going! This time I decided to make a simple back and forth pattern. Be sure to leave enough space on the edge of the path so students don't get confused about where the next square they can hop to is.

And keep going! I traced each post-it after I had my path all laid out. I'd say making this game took 2 hours, including a break to nurse my six month old. 

Then add a start area! This game is going to be basketball themed because my newest student is a huge basketball fan. (I should have used the orange post-its but of course hindsight is 20/20)

I also traced a large index card at the top. I write each of our spelling rules on large index cards and so this way I can put the appropriate spelling rule at the top to remind the student as we play.

Last I added details to make it more fun! I bordered the spelling rule box with red washi-tape, added a basketball hoop as the finish line, and added arrows to make playing more random and interesting. I've learned that the more opportunities there are to be sent WAY back or WAY forward unexpectedly the more fun and the longer the game lasts. The rule with this game will be that if you land on a box with an arrow pointing out from it you have to go to the box the arrow points you to.

Simple, but effective.

Write a word on each post-it and your game is all ready to play! We play with colored, plastic counting bears and a dice. I've also used matchbox cars and lego guys to play!  As my student goes through the levels and learns new words I can replace these post-its with new ones to introduce new practice words.


  1. Hi Manda, I am a Barton tutor, and I love your idea! So simple and so effective. I'm going to post about it on my blog: Thanks!

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