1. Overview

Sight Words Donkey takes a traditional card game (also known as Old Maid) and adds a sight words reading element. Instead of matching pictures, children match words to get practice and repetition while having fun.

Sight Words Donkey
Sight Words Donkey

Introducing this game is easiest when the students already have experience playing the classic Donkey or Old Maid card game, because they already understand the game dynamics and can focus their attention on the reading aspect. This is of particular importance for younger children, who can get overwhelmed with having to learn a new game and new words at the same time.

Donkey requires 2-4 players. It cannot be played individually. The two players can be an adult and a child.

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2. Materials

The game requires only the Donkey cards, which you can create on this site, to play the game.

  • Donkey Cards
  • Printer
  • Cardstock printer paper (approximately 110 lb / 200 gsm)
  • Scissors

To create the Donkey cards, use our online Donkey Card Creator and print your cards onto cardstock paper. Cut out the cards. You will need all the word cards created, plus one Donkey card.

For beginning students, you want to have a small deck (e.g., 10 word pairs plus 1 Donkey card). For more advanced students you can expand to a larger deck (e.g., 25 word pairs plus one Donkey card).

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3. Activity

The game is played the same way as the traditional Donkey game, also known as Old Maid. Instead of matching pictures, the players match words, reading the word each time they get a matched pair. The goal is to avoid being the one holding the Donkey card when the game ends.

Video: How to Play Sight Words Donkey

Shuffle the cards and deal them all, face down, to the players. It’s OK if not everyone has the same number of cards. Everyone picks up their hand and looks for pairs of matching words. They take any matching pairs and put them aside, reading the word aloud as they discard the pair. The group checks the reading and if necessary corrects any mistakes.

This preparatory stage is a good point to help the child by having them read all the words on their cards to you. This gives them some extra practice, and gives you an opportunity to correct any reading mistakes.

Now the first player holds up their cards for the player on their right, who gets to take one of the cards. If that results in a matched word pair, then the second player reads out the word and puts the pair of cards aside. Then the second player holds up their cards for the player on their right.

The game continues like this until all the word cards have been matched, and one player is left with the Donkey card. That player is declared the Donkey.

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4. Assessment

Sight Words Donkey is not the best game for assessing the reading skills of individual students. But you can still make note of the children’s relative speed in reading the word cards and identifying pairs. Children who appear to be slow in finding pairs and reading the words out loud may need some extra review work.

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5. Printable Donkey Cards

You can create your own custom Donkey cards that incorporate words appropriate to your students’ development. As their sight reading vocabulary improves, you should decrease use of words they have mastered, and increase the use of cards for words that require more repetition for mastery.

5.1 Custom Sight Words Donkey Cards

Use our Donkey Card Creator to create custom Donkey cards. This widget will generate Donkey cards, using either Dolch or Fry Sight Words lists or your own custom vocabulary words.

To download a template, right-click and select Save As.

The Sight Words Donkey Cards are provided under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Basically, you are permitted complete license to use the resources, provided you leave the attribution hallmark (our logo) on the resources. We would be happy to see the materials used in the classroom, in the home, as part of your tutoring business, or however you see fit. You do not need to contact us for permission to use the materials. We want you to use them!

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