The Best Resources for Small Group Instruction 

In this post, I share the best SoR-aligned resources to use for small group instruction and offer you details about my Leaders of Literacy Membership where you will find everything you need to plan and teach small groups in your classroom! 

We know that small group instruction is beneficial for students, but it takes LOT of time and energy to plan and implement.  You have to: 

  • Carefully group your students so you can differentiate based on their needs…
  • Search the internet for resources that are actually aligned to the Science of Reading…
  • Prep the materials for 4-6 different groups…  

And that’s before you even get to TEACH your groups! 

But it doesn’t have to be that difficult. Today I’m excited to help you make this process easier and way less time-consuming. 

In my last post, I answered the question, “What do I teach in small groups?” and offered 5 high-impact literacy skills ideal for small-group instruction.  Today I am excited to continue this conversation and recommend 5 Sor-aligned, low-prep resources you can use with your small groups to teach those skills. Finally, I’ll leave you with details about my Leaders of Literacy membership, where you can get all of these resources (and so much more!) in one place! 

The 5 Best Resources for Small Group Instruction

1. Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic awareness is the knowledge that spoken language is made up of sound units, called phonemes. This includes the ability to blend sounds, as well as isolate, segment, delete, add, and substitute phonemes within words. 

My Science of Reading-aligned Phonemic Lesson Plans for Kindergarten and First Grade students have EVERYTHING you need to bring effective phonemic awareness instruction to your small groups!  

With this resource, you’ll get lesson plans laid out in a weekly format.

Each lesson plan includes a warm-up for the target skill and three activities. 

  1. Phoneme Segmenting: students practice breaking apart each word and identifying each phoneme
  2. Phoneme Blending: students hear a sequence of phonemes and put them together to identify the word
  3. Connecting Graphemes to Phonemes: students practice connecting the phonemes in a spoken word to the letters (graphemes) that represent those sounds.

All of the lessons follow a SoR-aligned scope and sequence and the resource also includes picture word maps, assessments, and a class data tracker. 

2. Word Mapping

Word mapping activities are a physical way to represent the relationship between the phonemes and graphemes.  They allow students to physically connect or match the letters with the sounds they represent and help promote the process of orthographic mapping. Ultimately word mapping activities build word recognition and decoding skills that improve fluency in both reading and writing.  

This printable and digital Word Mapping Resource has EVERYTHING you need to get students mapping words in your classroom. It includes interactive digital slides for over 485 words!

This resource also comes with mapping boards and word image cards for your small group instruction and independent practice.

The phoneme tapping and mapping worksheets provide explicit practice with short vowels, blends, digraphs, long vowels, CVCe, R-controlled, and diphthong words so you’ll easily be able to address the different needs of your small groups.    

3. Dictation

Dictation is an engaging, small group activity that offers students guided spelling practice. It is a systematic way for you to connect the skills you teach in reading to student writing.   Dictation practice allows them to apply the skills to their writing and it is this application that helps skills to stick! 

If you are looking for a simple way to bring dictation practice to your small groups my Yearlong Dictation Resource for Kindergarten, first and/or second grade is all you need!

This resource follows a research-based scope and sequence and includes dictation practice activities for each week of the school year.

Each week includes 2 teacher guides that highlight the week’s focus skill, as well as previously learned phonics skills. In addition, students get practice with heart words (irregularly spelled high-frequency words) in the sentence portion.

A lesson outline for teacher guidance and a sample lesson are also included. The resource includes a variety of student dictation recording sheets so you can choose the one that works best for your students.

4. Decodable Passages

A decodable text is a text you use in beginning reading instruction.  It is a story that is controlled based on the phonics skills you have taught your students up to that point in your scope and sequence.  There is often a heavy focus on the target phonics skills for a specific week of instruction.   Just as dictation exercises give students the opportunity to apply their skills to writing, decodable texts allow students to apply their skills to reading. 

My decodable passages are the prefect resource to begin using with your small groups.   The  resource contains 60 decodable passages that align with a research-based, systematic phonics scope and sequence so you’ll have passages for every group you teach.  

Each decodable passage includes: 

💗 explicit lesson plans 

💗 activities for before, during, and after reading

💗 blending lines to practice skills and frontload before reading

💗 written and oral comprehension response questions specific to the passage

💗 audio recording for those students who may need extra support

💗 write and retell story response questions

5. Word Sorts

Word sorts are word awareness activities that require students to think about how words work by drawing their attention to common spelling patterns.  Students are given a set of words that all have something in common and asked to sort them by the common feature.    

This Phonics Word Sort resource is the perfect resource to use with your small groups. 

There are two levels of word sorts: whole words and words with the missing target spelling pattern. Students will look for common spelling patterns, sort, then communicate what they notice and have learned about the words they’ve sorted.

These word sorts are easy to prep and manage.  The printable pieces require very few cuts and no time is wasted dealing with materials. With 38 different word sorts in the resource that follow our SoR-aligned scope and sequence,  you’ll be able to use them with all of your small groups! 

Leaders of Literacy

I recognize that purchasing each of these items I shared above is A LOT.  But don’t worry, there is still an easier way with Leaders of Literacy, my K-2 membership where planning, prepping, and teaching small group instruction is as easy as click, print, and teach.

Instead of spending your Sundays hunched over your laptop…hunting for differentiated phonemic awareness, phonics, and decodable texts to target the needs of each of your small groups…you can simply log in to Leaders of Literacy.

Pick that week’s focus skill, and print off the step-by-step structured literacy lesson plans and activities. And just like that—your small group planning is DONE.

✔️ K-2 systematic scope & sequences

✔️ K-2 explicit structured literacy lesson plans

✔️K-2 high-impact student activities

✔️ Aligned with the Science of Reading

….and so much more!

I hope the information I’ve shared here today will help you make the most of your small group instructional time. Be on the lookout for my next post where I’ll share tips for planning your small group instruction!

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