Reading Enrichment Activities
Before you begin
A Note from Mrs. Bowers, a Classroom Teacher
Reading is a very important skill for life. Often children tell me that they do not like to read. I tell them that reading is a tool. It’s like a hammer. Would you say, “I don’t like hammers, so I won’t use one to drive a nail into the wall?” Probably not. You would use the hammer because that’s the best tool to use. The same thing applies to reading. Reading is a tool for learning about the world. One of my fourth-grade students, loved skateboarding, but hated to read. Once he began reading about skateboarding, he began to love reading, and his reading skills improved. Learn your child’s interests and take a virtual or in-person trip to the library to get books based on those interests.
Mrs. Bowers recommends that your children read aloud for at least fifteen minutes three times a week. This exercise will increase their reading fluency and speed. Be sure to correct any mispronounced words.
She also suggests partner reading: Have your children take turns reading either a paragraph or a page, depending on their reading ability. If age appropriate, each child can take notes and create an outline. Or provide an outline and ask them to fill in the details. Hold a “who can write the most facts” competition. Older children can help younger children with this activity.
General reading activities and resources
Colorado Department of Education reading resources
The Colorado Department of Education has developed The Read With Me Today website. The website offers excellent reading resources to help your child become a better reader.
How to find books for your child’s reading level
Many educators use the Lexile Framework for Reading to determine a child’s reading level. Ask your child’s teacher if your child has a Lexile measure. The Lextile Quantile Hub offers helpful tools to find books appropriate for your child’s reading level. If your child does not have a Lexile measure you will still find the tools helpful to find books and word lists.
The ideal book is one where the child can understand it, but the reading level is still challenging. For example, the child may have to sound out a few words and think more carefully about the meaning of the text.
Teach your child to use reading strategies
Reading Strategies: Research has shown that good readers naturally use reading strategies. Learning the following strategies will improve everyone’s reading skills:
- Predict what the book is about by looking at the cover.
- Ask how does the cover make you feel? Why?
- As you read, ask yourself: Who is the book about? Where does the story take place? When does the story take place? Why is there a story? How does the story unfold?
- Visualize what you have you read.
- Connect what you’re reading to your own experiences, something that you have read before, or something that you have seen via television, a movie, or online.
- Immediately look up the definition of unknown words so that you better understand what you are reading to increase your vocabulary.
- Review what you previously read.
- Do one of the following activities to reinforce what you learned: draw a picture of what you read, write a summary of what you read, or tell someone about what you read.
Videos to watch:
Parent Video: How to Help Your Child Understand What They Read
Parent Video: Asking Open-Ended Questions
The reading and spelling connection
A reader who knows spelling and pronunciation rules will be a more independent reader.
The Riggs Institute Blog provides a list of 47 rules called “The Most Helpful Rules of Spelling and Pronunciation”
Video to watch: Parent and Child Video: 10 Rules for Reading and Spelling
Activities for each stage of reading
There are four basic stages to learning to read.
Early emergent readers (kindergarten and first grade)
Early emergent readers learn that letters represent sounds.
- Buy or make alphabet flash cards. Children can also create their own flash cards using pictures from magazines, or their own drawings. For example, for the letter A, draw or find a picture of an apple.
- Find free printable letter recognition worksheets on Themeasuredmom.com website.
- Find 25 free phonemic awareness games on Themeasuredmom.com website.
- The Measured Mom website offers numerous free resources.
- ABC Disco Video
Word family activities:
- Once readers have a firm understanding of single letters and sounds, introduce word families. For example, make a list of words that end with at: vat, tat, sat, rat, pat, mat, hat, fat, cat, bat, and at.Other two letter word family endings: ab, ad, ag, am, an, ap, as, at, eb, ed, eg, em, en, et, ew, ib, id, im, ip, ir, it, ob, og, on, op, ot, ow, oy, ub, ud, ug, um, un, up, us, ut, and uy.
- Build words by writing in whip cream, shaving cream, Jello, Play-Doh, Slime, Silly String, or sand in a box.
- Build words by writing letters on blank poker chips, lima beans, rocks, index cards, or small tiles.
- Create a very simple scrabble game using the pieces created above. Every letter used counts as one point.
- Draw a word family hopscotch. Each square includes a word from the word family. Children should say the word as they jump to each square.
- Word family song videos:
– At Video
– En Video
– Ip Video
– Word Family Workout Video
– Toy Cars Word Family Video
Rhyming is a very important skill for early readers. It helps readers categorize words according to sound.
- Rhyming word activities from Themeasuredmom.com website.
- Find books written with three letter words such as the following:
– Dr. Seuss books such as The Cat in Hat
– Bob the Builder books
– McGuffey Readers
– Phonics book set from Themeasuredmom.com website
Other beginning spelling and phonics rules videos:
Emergent readers (first and second grade)
Emergent readers grasp patterns of letters and the sounds they represent. The reader also recognizes sentences and can navigate through picture books. At this level, children should memorize the one hundred basic sight words. Sight words do not follow phonics rules. The SightWords.com website offers sight words lists and other resources.
Find free sight word books on Themeasuredmom.com website.
Story retell activity:
Parent and Child Video: Demonstration of the Five Finger Re-tell
The Core Knowledge website (not to be confused with Common Core) offers unit studies for use in preschool through eighth grade. For example, there is a first-grade unit study for emergent readers about animals.
Early fluent readers (second and third grade)
Early fluent readers increase vocabulary and the amount of text they can read on a page. At this stage, the reader can navigate through simple chapter books.
During the Early Fluent Readers stage children are taught consonant blends. When you read two letter consonant blends you hear the sound of both letters.
Two letter consonant blends:
- bl, cl, fl, gl, pl, sl
- br, cr, dr, fr, gr ,sr, tr
- sc, sk, sm, sn, sp, sr, st, sw, tw
- ng, nk
Three letter consonant blends: scr, spl, spr, str
Consonant blend videos:
- Consonant diagraphs are consonants that are written together and the sounds of the letters do not sound like the original letter sounds. They are: ch, ck, kn, sh, ,th, wh, wr
Consonant digraph video: Digraphs sh th ch ph wh
Vowel digraph video: Digraphs oa ai ei ie oy
Parent Video: Helping Kids Build Knowledge From What They Read
Plot Line/Story Elements:
Parent and Child Video: Demonstration of the Five Finger Re-tell
Fluent readers (third grade and higher)
Fluent readers are able to gain knowledge and learn new things through reading.
Fluent readers need to understand:
- Graphic organizers: graphic organizers are graphs, charts, or tables used to display information.
- Venn diagram graphic organizer: interlocking circles used in literature to compare and contrast characters, ideas, etc. The outside part of the circle is used to create different aspects of what is being compared and contrasted. The inner part, which shares the same area is used to list similarities.
Parent/student book clubs:
Families can start their own book clubs. Here is a story from Mrs. Bowers who runs book clubs in her classroom.
I ask parents to run classroom book clubs. One mother of a student who was several grade levels behind in her reading skills, volunteered to lead her daughter’s book club. At home, the family read the book selection together, some aloud and some individually, then discussed what they had read. Once a week, the mother and daughter shared what they had read with the other children in the book club. Amazingly, the daughter looked forward to reading and loved the book. The shared experience of reading—both with other students and her family, plus her mother’s interest and involvement made reading exciting and enjoyable.
Tips for book clubs:
- Participates can be parents, siblings, grandparents, or friends
- Brainstorm with your child about what to read. Consider your child’s interests.
- Set a reading schedule for club reading and discussions.
- Based on the length of the book decide when the club will finish the book.
- Read together and separately.
- Book club roles change weekly. (See below)
Ideally there are six roles. Click on the name of each position for a printable worksheet uniquely created for each job.
Writes questions for book club members to answer. (Be sure the discussion leader has notes with the answers and applicable page numbers.) The discussion leader leads the discussion.
Finds six or seven new words with unknown meanings. Writes the sentence, page number, and dictionary meaning for each new word. During book club, the Vocabulary Builder asks the other participants if they know the meaning of the word. If no one can answer, the Vocabulary Builder reads the sentence and dictionary meaning. All participants should have a vocabulary notebook to write new words.
Chooses one character from the book and describes the following:
- What does the character look like?
- What is the relationship of the character to other characters in the story?
- List three descriptive phrases (with page numbers) that reveal what the character is thinking or feeling.
- Is the character the protagonist? Is the character the antagonist? Is the character a minor character? How does their role influence the plot of the book?
- Predict what the character will do next.
- Does the character do anything that is surprising? Does the action fit with what you know about the character?
- Create a Venn diagram to compare and contrast the character with another character in the story or in another story.
- List descriptive words that describe character’s character traits. (Click here for a list of character traits.)
Relates the story to their own life, to something happening in the world, and to another book.
Complete a story map graphic organizer about the book. (Click here for examples.)
Writes a brief paragraph that summarizes the portion of the story read. The paragraph should be written in complete sentences with proper punctuation.
Additional resources for book clubs:
- The Teacher-Pay-Teacher website offers the following resources for literature circles, another name for book clubs:
–STEAL Characterization (Speech, Thoughts, Effect on others, Actions, Looks)
–Story Map/Plot Structure
–Theme (Can be used after the book club has finished with the book.)