Sharon has an Masters of Science in Mathematics and a Masters in Education
When working with small groups, teachers have the advantage of really zooming in to focus on individual student needs. It gives teachers a chance to spend more time building and refining skills on a more personal level. Just as in whole groups, small group learning in reading should focus on three main skills to build strong readers: accuracy, fluency and comprehension. Take a look at how each of these can be supported with activities used during small group reading time.
Accuracy Reading Activities
Accuracy means reading words correctly. This includes word recognition, decoding, and strategies to read unknown words. Take a look.
Help students build a strong sight word vocabulary or practice word families by using spinner games. Create them with a pencil, paper clip, and piece of paper. Let's say you have a group that needs to work on reading sight words. To play, create a spinner board by making a circle and dividing it into ten equal parts. Have students write a sight word in each space. Next, give each student a pencil and paper clip and instruct them to hold the paperclip in place with the pencil in the center of the circle. Students spin the paperclip, then read the word.
- Extension - Students can take their spinner game to independent game centers or home for extra practice.
Five Finger Finds
Students need to build a toolbox of strategies to use when they come to a word they don't know in text. Give them a 'hand' by creating a take-along strategy builder. Have them trace their hand with their fingers spread. On each finger, write one strategy they can use when they come to an unknown word, such as 'Skip and return' or 'Use picture clues.' Use as a bookmark.
- Extension - As students master these strategies, they'll be ready for new ones. Allow them to recreate their finger finds as often as necessary.
Sight Word Slap Jack
Practice sight words or new words in text by playing this fun and active card game. Write each word on an index card. Read through each word with the group, assigning a few words to each student with some overlaps. As students are assigned words, have them record their words on paper or a wipe-off board. Next, shuffle the cards and, one by one, flip in front of the group. Students with that word in their bank should race to slap the card. The first slap wins the card after correctly reading the word.
- Extension - Allow students to self-lead this game as you observe their reading and decoding skills.
Fluent students read at a steady pace and with attention to voice and punctuation. Students who read too quickly or slowly may not remember what they read, which can impact comprehension. Use these activities to build fluency in readers.
To make this game, use index cards to write quotations from familiar text, such as fairy tales or favorite picture books. To play, students take turns choosing a card and reading the text in the correct voice.
- Extension - Model correct reading behaviors by playing this with students. They'll feel more relaxed about making voices if they see you as part of the fun.
On craft sticks, write different types of voice used during reading, such as 'excited,' 'scared,' or 'lonely.' Place sticks in a cup. Take turns pulling a stick and reading the same pre-determined text in different voices.
- Extension - Allow students to create their own stick voice - they often are more creative than we are!
Finally, students need to understand what they read in order to be successful. Use these activities to practice understanding text.
Assign each student a role during reading to practice literary elements. One student is the 'Characters' role, another 'Setting.' After reading, each student reports on their role, sharing details about the text.
- Extension - Create posters or diagrams of books to record how these elements change or expand as reading goes on.
Help students practice order of events by writing events from familiar stories on index cards. Pass out randomly to students, then have them work together to put in 'first, next, then, last' order.
- Extension - Apply this skill to the books you read by asking students to create their own set of time line cards. Exchange during reading time and assemble.
Use a dice to practice different reading skills. For example, you can create a chart that assigns each number on a die to a strategy, such as questioning or inferring. Students role the die and explain how that strategy applies to the book.
Or you could create a chart assigning each number to a 'w' question - who, what, where, etc. Students roll the die and explain each area.
- Extension - Dice are easily created with stock board cut apart and taped together to form a cube. Use for application of comprehension skills to make learning fun.
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