Reading Activities-Grades 3-6
The following activities are divided by reading skill. The information focuses on four different skills or components in reading acquisition. You may wish to complete only the part that is giving your child the most difficulty; or you may choose to work on a different activity each time you work together.The parts are:
· Phonological Awareness-this is decoding and reading words and sight words.This includes phonics, prefixes and suffixes, etc.
· Comprehension-this is how well students understand what they have read and what has been read to them.
· Vocabulary-understanding the words being used in written and spoken language.
· Fluency-how smoothly the child reads without being hindered by “sounding out” of words.
The goal of these activities are to provide you with information to help you give additional assistance to your child in areas he or she may be struggling. Because of this, keep your activity time short--20 minutes after a day of school and homework is more than enough time for most students. Thank you for taking the time to work with your child!
Phonological Awareness includes being able to identify and produce rhyming words, separate words into syllables, and identifying letter sounds. Knowing these sounds and being able to identify word families allows children to “decode,” or sound out words. By the upper elementary school grades, many children have these skills in place. However, some children have great difficulty with decoding skills. The following are some ways to assist your child in becoming more successful at these tasks.
1. Practice “chunking” the words with your child. Write a word they are having difficulty with on an index card. Have the child cut the word into syllables and try reading each syllable. Ex: tar/nish for/get re/mark
2. Use key words to help children identify vowel sounds. Keywords contain the sound they are trying to read, and help them identify letter sounds in words. A chart of vowel keywords can be found in the Appendix at the end of this packet. Once they know the keywords and sounds, they can be used to “cue” the student to use the proper sound in a word.
3. Scrabble tiles can be used when a child encounters an unknown word. Re-create the word with the tiles, then pull the tiles apart to segment the sounds. Put them together to help blend the sounds together to form the word.
4. For practice with sounds, children can use bingo chips, touching a chip for each sound. Bingo or poker chips can also be used to help isolate the individual sounds the child hears. For example, the word “cart” has four sounds, “shell” has only three. After isolating the sounds, touch each chip, saying the sound to blend the sounds together.
5. Identify word parts. Practice with knowing the base word, prefix or suffix of a word will help children pull it apart to read it. A list of common prefixes and suffixes can be found in the Appendix.
6. “What Says…?” is a strategy to get the child thinking of word sounds and parts. The adult asks “what says…?” and names a sound, such as “sh.” Student should answer with the correct letter or letters that make the sound. Scrabble tiles or plastic magnetic letters can also be used.
7. Another skill to work on is “visualizing.” Students are asked to visualize words that don’t follow the rules and can’t be sounded out (such as again). These are called “sight words.” We look at the word, trace it with our fingers, close our eyes and try to spell the word again. You will find a Dolch list of common sight words in the Appendix at the end of this article.
8. Air writing can be used to reinforce the spelling of a sight word. The adult will say the word, then use a whole hand and arm movement to write the word in the air in front of them while saying each letter. The student repeats after the adult. Another version of airwriting involves using a flashlight or laser pointer to create the letters on a wall while spelling words aloud.
9. There are many commercial games available in toy stores that reinforce phonetic concepts. Scrabble, Boggle, Upwords, etc. are all games that reinforce spelling. Other board games such as Trouble or Sorry can be adapted to use with word cards the student must read before being able to roll the dice to take their turn. A list of board games that help with Vocabulary and Spelling can be found in the Appendix.
10. There are online games that also help students in reading. A list of these educational sites can be found at the end of this article.
11. Rhyming is an important skill in reading. Being ableto generate words that rhyme helps identify word families and see the pattern of words. Flip books can also be created with your child, using index cards. A word family such as “-at” can be written on a card, leaving a space in the beginning of the word. Smaller pieces of index cards can be stacked and stapled on top, each with a different beginning sound. Flipping each smaller card reveals a new initial sound to blend with the word family. B-at, C-at, R-at, etc. can be prepared, read, and reread together. Reading poetry that rhymes is a quick and enjoyable activity to do with any age child. Authors that most children particularly enjoy are Shel Silverstein, Jack Prelutsky, Kenn Nesbitt, Sara Holbrook and Bruce Lansky. You can find poetry and writing activities on the site www.gigglepoetry.com.
12. To generate rhyming words, adults can place objects into a bag. The child will draw out one item, and come up with words to rhyme with the item.
13. Write words with 1-6 syllables on lined paper. Have your child roll a dice and say only the words with that amount of syllables.
14. Convert any board game to a Sight Word game! Simply write the sight words on index cards, and have your child read the words before rolling the dice to move their pawn. If they cannot read the word, help them decode the word. Then they have to choose another word card to read.
When a child cannot tell you about something they have read, they may be having difficulty with comprehension. Children who have difficulty sounding out words often have trouble with comprehension. There can be other issues as well, such as a child’s developmental level, their ability to pay attention, and their ability to reason. Attitudes towards reading and work habits may also influence a child’s comprehension.
In order to teach strategies for comprehension, a child must be actively engaged in the activity and free from some of these other issues. Although we often refer to comprehension of what has been read, children can be taught comprehensions strategies by not only reading text at their level, but also through discussion of television shows or movies, and by a story that has been read-aloud to them. Children are never too old to enjoy a good story, and listening to a fluent reader gives them a good model for their own reading fluency. The strategies most often taught to increase comprehension include preparational (steps to get ready to read), organizational (how students understand main ideas/details in text), and elaboration (how to integrate what the reader learns) strategies, also known as Before, During and After Reading strategies.
1. To activate prior knowledge-before reading (or listening to a book or watching a TV show), a child should recall what they know about the subject at hand and have a chance to discuss it. For instance, if their show is about someone being bullied, they can relate what they know about bullying, or how it feels to be bullied. The eventual goal is for students to be able to do this as they choose a book (ex. Oh! A dinosaur book! I remember seeing them at the museum! They were huge! I think this will be interesting!).
2. Predicting-Stop to ask a child what they think is going to happen next in the book or TV show. Ask them to relate why they made their prediction. Model how to use clues from the story to make a believable prediction. (ex. “The girl looked at him and smiled, so I think she may go and introduce herself to him next!”) Often, when asked to make a prediction, children who have difficulty with comprehension will make guesses about what they would like to happen next instead of what makes sense with the story. We need to teach them to pay attention to the details, as they give “clues” about what may happen next. What the characters do next may not necessarily be what we would choose to do.
1. Organization includes understanding the difference between the main idea and the details of the text. This skill is essential as children get older, as they will need it to summarize, take notes, and outline. To help children learn to determine the “main idea,” pick a very short book or story. Tell the child to listen carefully to the story. After the story has been read orally tell your child that you will be looking for the "who" or "what" the text was mainly about. Only chose one "who" or "what." Write this down on a sheet of paper. The second step is to tell your child that you will be identifying the most important thing about the "who"or "what." Again, there will only be one important thing. Once you have the "who" or "what" and the most important thing about it, you have just found the main idea. Be sure to write this down on a sheet of paper. This needs to be practiced many times. Begin with stories only a paragraph long; then try using progressively longer text to help children figure out the main idea. They need to realize there are other things in these stories that tell about the main idea, and these are called details. Learning the difference between main ideas and details is a developmental task that children need to practice often before they will understand how to do it on their own.
3. Understanding story elements (characters, story setting, etc.) helps children to make connections to what is happening in the story. For instance, taking a few minutes to stop and talk about whether a story takes place long ago, in the present, or in the future will help the child to understand the choices a character may make in the story. Also, knowing that a character is “shy” or “overly outgoing” helps to understand why they may choose to react one way or another.
3. Ask questions! Good readers stop themselves and ask “why did the character do that?” “I don’t know why she said that!” or “I don’t understand what just happened. Why?” If students are comprehending the story, they will know when they don’t understand what is happening. Discussing with someone else why things happened or why a character reacted as they did helps guide a child’s understanding of the text! So asking questions is good!
4. Visualizing is a technique that helps students by asking them to “make pictures or a movie in their head” of what they are reading. Visualizing allows a student to try out what they are reading and make sense of it. If they can’t visualize what is happening, often they will go back and re-read to make the visual connection. Read a short passage and ask your child to tell what pictures they made in their head. Visualizing should help them to retell the passage. Having a child quickly sketch what they “see” is a good activity if your child enjoys drawing. The key is to have them sketch quickly, so they don’t forget what they have listened to! Magazine pictures can also be provided, and the child can choose one that shows what they pictured as they read.
1. Making inferences is a difficult technique because it asks children to“fill-in-the-blanks” about information they have read. These answers often cannot just be found by going back into the story. For instance, if we read: “Billy stood in the shade of a tree. That helped beat back some of the heat. He took his t-shirt off and put sunscreen on his skin,” we can infer that it was a hot, sunny day, even though it doesn’t explicitly state the weather. Lead a child to inference by making statements about what is obviously not happening. Using the above example, ask a child if he thinks Billy needs to wear a jacket. If the child answers “no,” get them to tell you why. Leading questions will eventually get them to make inferences about what is happening in the story.
2. When asking a child to summarize, start with short and easy stories. Being able to decide what is important to include in the summary is an important skill in summarizing. Have your child practice telling you about a TV show, what happened in gym class, or a story they read; reminding them only to tell what is important to the story.
3. “Looking back” is a strategy many children neglect using. In fact, some think of itas cheating. However, looking back at a text when an answer cannot be recalled is an essential skill to have; students cannot be expected to remember everything about a story. Make it a “treasure hunt” game by asking questions about the story and having your child search for the answers. You can also make it a race by timing them to find the answer, seeing if they can beat their previous time.
4. Sequencing a story assists students in remembering details about what happened first, next and last in a story. Parents can have students illustrate various parts of the story, then ask them to place the pictures in the correct order. Also, sentences about the story can bewritten on flashcards for the child to place in order. As practice with this skill, use comic strips cut apart. Have the child read the different scenes, then put the story in an order that makes sense. If this is too difficult, have them read the strip in order first, then cut them apart and have the child put them back together.
If students don’t understand the words used in a story they are reading, chances are they won’t understand the story as well. However, as students advance into higher-level texts, vocabulary becomes more challenging. Therefore, vocabulary development is a key element in growth as both a reader and a writer.
1. Reading aloud to a child provides a significant source of new vocabulary. Typically, stories read aloud to a child are a higher level than a story they might read independently. Consequently, the vocabulary will be higher-level as well. Taking the time to discuss words a child may not know or understand such as “famished” or “dismal” reinforces a connection with the word and the context in which it was read, creating a framework for remembering the word in the future.
2. Educational television introduces children to a wealth of new vocabulary. An Animal Planet show about the habitat ofthe Capybara of Venezuela (the world’s largest rodent) is not only entertaining, but provides a perfect opportunity to learn and utilize new vocabulary.
3. Another fun way to learn vocabulary is by learning a new word each day, and trying to use that word as much as possible all day long. Sign up for a Word-A-Day app, and make a game of trying to use that word as much as you can throughout the day. Amazon.com also sells a Word-a-Day calendar that can be purchased and put on a desk or refrigerator and practiced daily.
4. Get rid of tired words! Words like happy, sad, mad, and great are often over-used by students. Utilizing an online thesaurus to find other words to use in place of these words will help students to practice and use better vocabulary in their spoken and written language.
5. Play a game! There are many board games on the market that the entire family can enjoy, that will increase a child’s vocabulary and word knowledge. A list of commercially-available games can befound in the Appendix.
FluencyReading fluency includes the speed or rate of reading, aswell as the ability to read materials with expression. Children are successful with decoding when the process used to identify words is fast and nearly effortless or automatic. The concept of automaticity refers to a student's ability to recognize words rapidly, with little time taken to “sound out” the word. This ability to read words by sight automatically is the key to fluent reading.
Some children have developed accurate word pronounciation skills but read slowly. For these children, decoding is not automatic or fluent, and their limited fluency may affect performance in the following ways: 1) they read less text than peers and have less time to remember, review, or comprehend the text; 2) they expend more energy than their peers trying to identify individual words; and 3) they may be less able to remember what they have read and less likely to integrate those segments with other parts of the text.
To assess fluency, teachers often determine a student’s reading rate. A student's reading rate may be calculated by dividing the number of words read correctly by the total amountof reading time. An adult can simply count out 100 words in a passage, then time the student as he or she reads the passage. A reading rate chart by grade level has been provided in the Appendix.
Methods for increasing reading rate have several common features: 1) students listen to text as they follow along with the book, 2) students follow the print using their fingers as guides, and 3) readingmaterials are used that students would be unable to read independently. Fluency training should provide opportunities for partner reading, practice reading difficult words prior to reading the text, timings for accuracy and rate, opportunities to hear books read, and opportunities to read to others. The following methods are easy to use.
Any continued practice with reading will eventually increase fluency. One way to help your child with reading is to turn on the closed caption while watching T.V., playing video games, or watching movies. The use of closed-captioning with or without the sound on can assist students with increasing their reading fluency, by enabling them to integrate what they are hearing, seeing and processing at once.
To conduct a speed drill, have the student read a list of words for 1 minute as you record the number of errors. You may use a high-frequency word list such as the Dolch wordlist (found in the Appendix). These drills are designed to develop automatic sight recognition of words. For reading lists of words with a speed drill and a 1-minute timing, use the following general guidelines: 30 correct wpm for first- and second-grade children; 40 correct wpm for third- grade children; 60 correct wpm for mid-third-grade; and 80 wpm for students in fourth grade and higher.
In this method, you read aloud together with a student for 10- 15 minutes daily. To begin, select a high-interest book or a content-area textbook from the classroom. Sit next to the student and read aloud as you point to the words with your index finger. Read at a slightly faster pace than the student and encourage him or her to try and keep up with you. When necessary, remind the student to keep his or her eyes on the words. Reading aloud with students can help them to practice phrasing and expression.
For this procedure, the child reads the same chosen short passage over and over again. To begin, select a passage that is 50-100 words long from a book that is slightly above the student's independent reading level. Have the student read the selection orally while you time the reading and count the number of words that are pronounced incorrectly. Record the reading time and the number of words pronounced incorrectly. With the child, set a realistic goal for speed and number of errors. The student will practice and repeat reading the passage until their goal is reached. Continue to do Repeated Readings with a variety of reading passages.
Another way to help students practice reading is to use audio books. Have the student listen to the reading while he or she follows along with a copy of the book. Most public libraries provide a wide selection of recorded books for loan. Students benefit from exposure to hearing a good model of fluent reading. Www.StorylineOnline.com has famous people who read picture books for children to listen to. Ocean County Library has many e-books with an audio component that can be downloaded digitally. Audible.com and Amazon also offer many audio books available for purchase.
For this procedure, a partner or adult reads a sentence or two of a high-interest book aloud. The student then repeats the reader, trying to imitate their speed and expression.
In this method, simply scoop under words in phrases using a pencil. Use a short passage, and have the student practice reading the chunks of words. For example; the sentence “John will play volleyball at the beach, but first must finish his homework,” would be scooped so the child would read “John will play volleyball…at the beach,… but first must finish his homework.” Initially, this will need to be modeled by the adult and imitated by the student. Eventually, the student should be the one scooping the phrases before reading aloud.
a apple, safe
e Ed, Pete
i itch, pine
o octopus, home
u up, mule/rule
y cry, baby
Complete Dolch Word List Divided by Level
in, into,: in, il, im, ir , en,intro – infiltrate. illuminate, import, irrigate, enlist, introduce
inside, within: intro, intra, endo – introspection, intravenous, endogenous
to, toward, ob: ad, ac, ag, at –adjust, accommodate, aggression, attract, observe
forth, forward: pro – proclaim
beside, by: para – parallel, paraphrase
between, among: inter, dia – intervene, dialogue
outside: extra, extro, epi- extraterrestrial, extrovert, epidermis
with, at the same time: com, con, cor, syn, sym – company, contemporary, correlate, synchronize, symphony
after: post – postwar, posterior
before: pre, ante, pro –precede, antebellum, prologue
down: de – descend
under, beneath: sub – subway
above, over: super – superior, supersensitive
back, backward: re, retro – retreat, retroactive
around, about: circum, peri – circumference, perimeter
across: trans, dia- transport, transatlantic, diameter
beyond: ultra, extra –ultrasonic, ultraconservative, extraordinary,
apart: se – secular, separate
from, away from: ab, abs – absolve, abstain
off, away: dis, di- dismiss, divert
out, out of: ex, ec – exit, expel, exorcist, eccentric
not: un, in, il, im, ir, dis, non, a – unpleasant, indecisive, illogical, impolite, irrelevant, disapprove, nonviolent, atypical;
reversal: un, de, dis, counter –unsettle, deregulate, disarm, countermand
one, single, alone: mono, mon, uni-monorail, monocular, uniform
two, twice: di, bi, bin- dioxide, bicycle, binocular
three: tri – triangle, tricycle
four: tetr, quadr – tetrahedron,quadrangle
five: pent, quintus – pentathlon, quintuplet
six: hexa, hex, sex – hexagon, sextet
seven: help, sept, septem –heptagon, September
eight: oct – octet, October
nine: nove – November, novena
ten, tenth: centi, cent- century, cent
thousand, thousandth: milli, kilo –millimeter, kilometer, kilogram
many, much: poly, multi – polygon, polyester, multitude
first: prot – proton, protagonist
half: hemi, semi – hemisphere, semicircle
bad, badly: mal, mis – malpractice, malignant, misfit, miserable
wrong: mis – misspell, mistake
good, well: bene – benefactor, benign
common, like: homo – homogeneous, homogenized
like, same: syn – synonymous, synonyms
One who: ant, ar, ent, er, ess, or –student, servant, beggar, superintendent, teacher, waitress, actor
One who is: ard, ee- employee, drunkard, payee
One who practices: ist – scientist, anarchist
Place for or with: arium, ary, orium, ory– aquarium, solarium, library, auditorium, laboratory
Art or skill of: ship – salesmanship, showmanship
State or quality of being: ance, ation, dom, ence, hood, ion, ism, ity, ment, ness, ship, sion, th, tion, ty, ure – tolerance, repentance, starvation, freedom, violence, childhood, champion, heroism, necessity, amusement, happiness, friendship, tension, length, attention, loyalty, failure
Doctrine of: ism – Marxism, capitalism
Study of: ology – psychology, biology
Small: let, cle, cule, ette, -booklet, particle, molecule, dinette, rivulet
More than one: s, a, es, e – cats, data, buildings, boxes, alumni
Relating to: ial, al, ian, ic, ical– commercial, natural, urban, artificial, comical
Inclined to: tive, acious, ant,ative, ent, ish, ive – combative, voracious, vigilant, demonstrative, competent, childish, instructive
Can be: able, ible – readable, lovable, visible
Full of: ful, ous, ulent, y –careful, thoughtful, wondrous, turbulent, wordy
Without: less – careless,thoughtless
That which was: en, ed – mistaken, baked, stolen
In what manner: ily, ly – steadily, speedily, slowly
To what extent: ly – extremely, scarcely
To make: en – weaken, activate, strengthen, terrify, popularize
To change tense or time: ed, ed, ing – marched, talked, taken, singing
Commercial Games available for purchase for Spelling and Vocabulary Development
The Great Word Race boardgame (by Talicor) is a fun and speedy way to challenge and hone your spelling and vocabulary skills. Race your pawn from start to finish by moving it the number of letters in the word you build. Toss your dice to see what letters you get, then strategize with “Pick a Card” squares and “Letter for Life” cards.
Bananagrams is the game of letter tiles that zips neatly into a banana-shaped case and provides fun any time and anywhere. For 2-8 players ages 7-97, it’s a quick –paced game where you build your own crossword. Everyone plays at once-no waiting! 9 inches long and easy to pack and take with you anywhere, 144 tiles included.
Word For Word board game (by GameDevelopment Company) is a race of wits from one side of the board to the other with pawns by correctly answering the category questions. Word for Word challenges players to spell words, provide definitions, identify antonyms and synonyms and solve word puzzles hidden in rhymes and scrambled letters.
Buzz Word Junior board game (by Patch Products) is designed for younger players. You and your teammates have 45 seconds to solve a set of clues, and all the answers contain the Buzzword. If the buzzword is “see” and the clue is “teeter-totter,” your teammates shout “seesaw” and you buzz the buzzer. It’s the perfect family game for ages 7 and above.
Scrabble (by Hasbro) is the original word game, where players draw letter tiles and build words on the game board for points. Deluxe Edition has a board that spins and holds letters in place.
Apples to Apples (by Mattel) is for 4-10 players, ages 8 and up. One player lays down an adjective card, and the others scramble to find a noun card in their hand which can be described by that adjective. The results are often outrageously funny. A junior edition is available.
Boggle (by Hasbro) can be played by 2 or more players ages 8 and up. Players compete to find as many words as possible in a 4x4 grid as a three-minute sand timer works its way down. You score points by finding words that other players don’t locate. This game is fast-paced, addictive and travel-friendly!
Upwords (by Hasbro) is played with 2-4 players ages 8 and up. A cousin of Scrabble, Upwords allows you to stack letters on top of existing words to build new ones.
Reading Rate Chart
Average rates for reading with understanding for students in Grades 2-12
Standard words per minute
Source: Mather and Goldstein (2001). A standard word is six letter spaces including punctuation and spacing.
Educational Games Online to Develop Reading Skills
http://gamequarium.com/readquarium/ Online reading activities for phonics, vocabulary, sight words and more.
http://www.primarygames.com/reading.htm Word scrambles and crossword puzzle fun.
http://www.funbrain.com More than 100 fun, interactive games that develop skills in math, reading, and literacy. Plus, kids can read a variety of popular books and comics on the site, including Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Amelia Writes Again, and Brewster Rocket.
http://www.rif.org/kids/readingplanet.htm This Reading is Fundamental site contains book reviews, writing activities, and word games.
http://pbskids.org/games/reading.html PBS KIDS Reading Games are designed to help children practice their reading skills while playing with their favorite PBS KIDS friends like Curious George and Super Why.
Mather, N. and Goldstein, S. (2001). Reading Fluency. Website: LD Online.
Mather, N., & Goldstein, S. (2001). Learning Disabilities and Challenging Behaviors: A Guide to Intervention and Classroom Management (pp. 235-242).
Gabor, Ellen (2011). Ellen’s Teaching Made Easier. Website: Complete list of Prefixes and Suffixes. http://www.e-tme.com/ complete%20 list%20of% 20prefixes%20 and%20suffixes.htm
Gunning, Thomas G. (2004). Creating Literacy- Instruction for All Children in Grades Pre-K to 4. New York: Pearson Education.
Keene, Ellin O. and Zimmermann, S. (1997). Mosaic of Thought-Teaching Comprehension in a Reader’s Workshop. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Robb, Laura (2010). Teaching Reading in Middle School. New York: Scholastic, Inc.
Wilson, Barbara A. (2002). Wilson Reading System. Oxford, MA: Wilson Language Training Corp.