A free game of pairs

Use this free game to help a child to be more aware of the sounds that make up words. Much research has established that good phonological awareness is a precursor to good reading.

Why play pairs games?

There are two partially independent routes to success in reading and spelling: the orthographic route and the phonological route. Students with a good visual memory may sometimes make good progress in reading high and medium frequency words via the orthographic route to reading. However, if their phonological awareness is weak, they may make less progress via the phonological route. The result is that, when faced with more complex vocabulary in connection with more advanced studies, they encounter many words which they are unable to read or spell. This, in turn, hinders comprehension of set texts.

It is therefore desirable that students of all ages develop phonological skills in reading and spelling which are based on their awareness of the sounds within words.

How to play this game

In this simple game for two players, participants place all cards face down, and, taking turns, attempt to turn over a rhyming pair, e.g. dog and log. One card is to be turned at a time. Each player turns two cards, and keeps them if they make a pair. If a player gets a rhyming pair, s/he takes another turn. Players must let the other person see the pictures they have turned and both players should try to remember the word for what they have seen. The winner is the person with the most pairs when all cards have been collected.

Free game - printable


a free pairs game to improve phonological awareness page 1


a free pairs game to improve phonological awareness page 2


Preparing to play this free game

Save and resize both these graphics to A4 size.

Print them onto card or paper, using a different colour for each group of nine pictures.

Cut into small cards with just one picture on each.

See above for rules of the game.

Now make some more games

Now draw some pictures for other pairs of rhyming words, and play a similar game.

Next, you could make other games,similar to this game by drawing pairs of objects with matching onsets, e.g. stairs and a stop sign; skates and a skipping rope etc.

Later, include more pairs in each game, always having an odd number of pairs, so that there will always be a winner, to develop both memory and phonological awareness further.

If you want a ready made laminated free game and games that include words and with a variety of game rules see here.