In this post I share 5 literacy centers aligned to the Science of Reading. These low-prep, research-based literacy activities are ideal for kindergarten, first, and second grade students and classrooms. Be sure to download the freebies linked in this post!
For too long it was thought that there were a variety of ways to teach children to read. The Science of Reading has changed that assumption. Decades of research now tell us that children learn to read the same way. They build pathways in their brain that connect speech sounds to print.
As teachers we simply don’t have time to waste on activities that don’t help everyone grow and learn. With so many resources out there, it can be difficult to know which ones truly align with what current research tells us about how students learn to read.
This is where I’m here to help! Today I’m excited to share 5 literacy center activities that are aligned to the Science of Reading!
The literacy center activities I’m sharing today take what we know about how students learn to read and put it into practice. While they focus on different reading skills they all follow these essential, evidence-based principles of quality instruction.
💕 Instruction must be explicit. In explicit instruction, the objective of the lesson is clear and the teaching is intentional. The teacher takes center stage and directly teaches concepts to students. There are opportunities for guided practice with decreasing levels of support. It follows the “I do, We do, You do” model.
💕 Instruction must be systematic. Skills taught and practiced are based on a research-based scope and sequence. Each lesson and activity builds upon itself. Students are not asked to do anything they haven’t first been taught. When instruction is systematic, nothing is left to chance.
💕 Instruction should be engaging. When students understand why they are learning what you are teaching and they are provided with the appropriate support for success, they see learning as relevant to their lives and are more engaged and motivated.
💕 Instruction is intensive. This means instruction data-driven and focused on essential skills.
💕 Practice activities should be cumulative. Once a student moves forward with a new concept, they must continue to review the skills they already learned. In his book, A Fresh Look at Phonics, Wiley Blevins reminds us that a new skill needs to be systematically and purposefully reviewed for four to six weeks after you first introduced it.
Literacy Centers Aligned to the Science of Reading
The Science of Reading tells us that sight words are not stored in our visual memory. Instead, we must integrate and directly teach high frequency words as part of our related phonics pattern lessons. Students will use their phoneme knowledge to map the regular part of the words, then only have to “learn by heart” the sounds that are irregular in the word, thus the name Heart Words.
My Heart Words Resource makes it easy for you to integrate high frequency sight words into your phonics instruction! It offers students explicit instruction on how to connect phonemes (sounds) to the written word.
The resource includes digital teaching slides for 220 high frequency sight words. The slides offer students direct instruction, as well as guided practice.
Once you have provided that explicit instruction, students will be ready to move on to independent practice. This resource comes with two practice printables for every word, as well as an extension activity for each word.
You can take a closer look at my Heart Word Resource and download free activities here!
Through research on the Science of Reading and David Kilpatrick’s book, Equipped for Reading Success I’ve learned that students use the oral language processing part of their brain to map, or connect, the sounds (phonemes) of the word to the letters or letter combinations (graphemes) in a word. This process is called orthographic mapping. It is how we take an unfamiliar word and turn it into a sight word for immediate retrieval.
Word mapping is a physical way to represent the relationship between the phonemes and graphemes. It allows students to physically connect or match the letters with the sounds they represent. Ultimately, it helps build word recognition and decoding skills that improve fluency in both reading and writing.
Students find word mapping activities highly engaging because they have both visual and kinesthetic aspects. To increase student engagement, you can offer multisensory manipulatives like silicone poppers or playdough.
My printable and digital Word Mapping Resource has EVERYTHING you need to get students mapping words in your classroom!
I’ve included interactive digital slides for over 485 words perfect for explicit instruction. Also included are mapping boards and word image cards for your small group instruction and independent student practice.
I also designed 42 printables that offer students the cumulative practice students need for mastery. These self-checking printables are ideal for independent practice, literary centers, homework, or as a meaningful activity for a substitute.
You can take a closer look at the Phoneme-Grapheme Word Mapping Bundle here and download FREE CVC Word Mapping Activities here!
It’s important when we are choosing a scope and sequence that we choose one that allows for systematic phonics instruction and includes direct instruction of the 6 syllable types.
Teaching the six different syllable types to our students helps them decode bigger, more complex words and become more effective readers! Without a strategy for chunking longer words into manageable parts, our students may end up guessing or even skipping over the words.
My six syllable types (closed, open, magic e, vowel team, r-controlled, consonant +le) resource comes with everything you need for teaching syllable types to your students!
You’ll get digital teaching slides designed for explicit whole group instruction you’ll use when you are first introducing your students to the syllable types. Students can practice what they’ve learned using the interactive digital slide activities and printables. Both are ideal for small group instruction or independent practice!
Learn more about the six syllable types and download free syllable types activities here!
When we first introduce a new phonics skill it is best to keep the instruction explicit, clear, and to the point. But in order for students to truly master the phonics skills we teach we must provide them with lots of opportunities for review and repetition!
In his book Phonics from A to Z, Wiley Blevins encourages us to have our students explore and play with letter sounds and suggests word sorts are a great way to do so!
Word sorts require students to think about how words work by drawing their attention to common spelling patterns. Students receive a set of words that all have something in common. They must identify the feature and sort them accordingly.
Take a closer look at my Differentiated Word Sorts and download a FREE word sort here!
Once you have a strong word sort routine in place, an engaging exercise to continue the development of word awareness is Word Ladders, aka Word Chains.
Word ladders are a fun and challenging word activity for students and are good for when students have already had a lot of exposure to the word pattern. Students will determine the next word in the ladder by changing just one phoneme to make the next word.
My Word Ladder Resource, designed from Wiley Blevins’ recommended scope and sequence for K-2 students, includes both printable and digital word ladders. These activities require students to think critically to figure out the next word to build, using letter or picture clues for support! Since word ladders are self-checking they are perfect to use in an independent literacy center.
Get more details about my Word Ladder activities here!
Each of the literacy center activities I’ve shared today take what we know about how students learn to read and put that research into practice. I hope the information and resources can help to bring more effective reading instruction and practice into your classroom!
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