Small Group Reading Activities

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has an Masters of Science in Mathematics and a Masters in Education

Having students work in small groups to improve reading skills is just smart. This lesson gives ideas for activities students can use with your guidance and/or independently during group reading time. These can be used for all skill levels.

Building Readers

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.

Spinner Games

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.

Reading Voices

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.

Fluency Sticks

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.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it now
Create an account to start this course today
Used by over 30 million students worldwide
Create an account