Effective Reading Activities Based on Scientific Research

By Jen Jones

Effective Reading Activities Based on Scientific Research


When it comes to science of reading activities, the goal is to use evidence-based practices that help students develop critical reading skills. By incorporating proven strategies into your classroom, you can enhance phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension—the five essential components of reading.

Here's a quick list of some effective science of reading activities:

  • Word Squares: Enhances vocabulary recognition.
  • Word Jumbles: Boosts vocabulary and sentence formation.
  • Creative Writing Exercises: Develops narrative skills and comprehension.
  • Picture Book Analysis: Improves inference and visualization skills.
  • Storytelling Circle: Strengthens listening and thematic understanding.

These activities are designed to fit seamlessly into your existing curriculum and address the varied needs of upper elementary students.

Hello! I'm Jen Jones, a renowned educator and literacy expert with over 30 years of experience in the field. As the founder of Hello Literacy, Inc., I have dedicated my career to transforming literacy education and empowering teachers around the world. This article will explore various science of reading activities you can implement in your classroom, backed by proven research and tailored to engage and build essential reading skills.

Infographic summarizing the effectiveness of science of reading activities in classroom settings - science of reading activities infographic brainstorm-4-items

Understanding the Science of Reading

To effectively teach reading, it's crucial to understand the five essential components of the science of reading: Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Fluency, Vocabulary, and Comprehension. Each component plays a vital role in developing proficient readers. Let's delve into each one.

Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate individual sounds (phonemes) in spoken words. It's a foundational skill for learning to read.

Activities to build phonemic awareness:

  • Rhyming Games: Encourage students to identify and generate rhyming words. For example, ask them to find words that rhyme with "cat" (e.g., "bat," "hat").
  • Blending and Segmenting: Use simple words to practice blending sounds together (e.g., /c/ /a/ /t/ becomes "cat") and segmenting them (e.g., "cat" becomes /c/ /a/ /t/).


Phonics involves understanding the relationship between letters and sounds. This skill helps students decode words by sounding them out.

Phonics-based activities:

  • Decodable Books: Use texts that emphasize specific phonics skills. For example, a book focusing on the "ai" and "ay" sounds, like "Sail Away," helps students practice these patterns.
  • Word Building: Have students use letter tiles to construct words. This hands-on activity reinforces grapheme recognition and spelling patterns.


Fluency is the ability to read text accurately, quickly, and with proper expression. It bridges word recognition and comprehension.

Exercises to enhance fluency:

  • Repeated Reading: Students read the same passage multiple times to build speed and accuracy.
  • Choral Reading: Group reading activities where students read aloud together can improve prosody and confidence.


A rich vocabulary is essential for reading comprehension. Students need to understand word meanings to grasp the text fully.

Strategies for building vocabulary:

  • Context Clues: Teach students to use surrounding text to infer the meaning of new words.
  • Word Maps: Create visual representations of words, including definitions, synonyms, and example sentences.


Comprehension is the ability to understand and interpret what is read. It's the ultimate goal of reading instruction.

Skills development for comprehension:

  • Questioning: Encourage students to ask and answer questions about the text. This can include who, what, when, where, why, and how questions.
  • Summarizing: Teach students to condense information into their own words, focusing on key points and main ideas.

Understanding and integrating these components into your teaching will help you create effective science of reading activities that support all aspects of literacy development.

Implementing Science of Reading Activities in the Classroom

Phonemic Awareness Activities

Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear and manipulate sounds in words. It's a foundational skill for reading.

Structured Approach: Incorporate short, daily activities that focus on sounds.

Systematic Instruction: Follow a sequence from simple to complex sounds.

Explicit Teaching: Clearly model each activity before students try it.

Rhyming: Play games where students identify and create rhyming words.

Blending: Practice orally blending sounds to form words. For instance, say "/s/ /a/ /t/" and have students say "sat."

Segmenting: Have students break words into individual sounds. For example, ask them to segment "dog" into "/d/ /o/ /g/."

Phonics-Based Activities

Phonics connects sounds to letters, helping students decode words.

Structured Approach: Use a consistent routine for phonics instruction.

Systematic Instruction: Teach letter-sound relationships in a logical order.

Explicit Teaching: Demonstrate how to blend sounds to read words.

Decoding: Use activities like "Sound-by-Sound Blending" to teach students to sound out each phoneme in a word.

Encoding: Practice spelling words by sounding them out. For example, say "cat" and have students write "c-a-t."

Grapheme Recognition: Use flashcards or magnetic letters to help students recognize and match letters with their sounds.

Fluency Enhancing Exercises

Fluency is the ability to read text accurately and quickly.

Structured Approach: Incorporate regular fluency practice into your schedule.

Systematic Instruction: Start with simpler texts and gradually increase complexity.

Explicit Teaching: Model fluent reading for your students.

Repeated Reading: Have students read the same text multiple times to build speed and accuracy.

Choral Reading: Read a text together as a class to build confidence and fluency.

Performance Reading: Encourage students to read aloud to an audience, such as during a class performance.

Vocabulary Building Strategies

Vocabulary knowledge is crucial for understanding what is read.

Structured Approach: Integrate vocabulary instruction across subjects.

Systematic Instruction: Teach vocabulary in context, using a variety of methods.

Explicit Teaching: Introduce new words with clear definitions and examples.

Context Clues: Teach students to use context to infer the meaning of new words.

Morphology: Study word parts, such as prefixes, suffixes, and root words, to understand word meanings.

Word Maps: Create visual representations of new words, showing their meanings, synonyms, and use in sentences.

Comprehension Skills Development

Comprehension is the ultimate goal of reading.

Structured Approach: Plan regular comprehension practice sessions.

Systematic Instruction: Use a variety of texts and question types.

Explicit Teaching: Model and practice comprehension strategies.

Questioning: Encourage students to ask and answer questions about the text, such as who, what, when, where, why, and how.

Summarizing: Teach students to condense information into their own words, focusing on key points and main ideas.

Predicting: Before reading, have students predict what the text will be about based on the title, pictures, or headings. This sets a purpose for reading and engages students with the text.

Implementing these science of reading activities will help you create a comprehensive literacy program that supports all aspects of reading development.

Science of Reading Activities for Diverse Learning Styles

Auditory Learning Activities

Multimodal learning is key to engaging students with different learning styles. Auditory learners, for instance, benefit from activities that focus on listening and sound discrimination.

Listening Games: One effective game is "I Do, We Do, You Do Oral Activities." Start by modeling a phrase or sentence, then do it together with the class, and finally, let the students try it on their own. To keep it fun, use silly voices or sing the phrases.

Sound Discrimination: A popular activity is "What Doesn’t Belong?" Say a set of words or sounds and have students identify the odd one out. This can be used for phonics or phonological awareness tasks, such as rhyming.

Visual Learning Supports

Visual learners thrive when they have visual aids to support their reading development. These aids help them connect letters and sounds, and improve their decoding skills.

Flashcards: Use flashcards to teach letter-sound correspondences. Show a card with a letter or word, and ask students to say the sound or read the word.

Word Walls: Create a word wall in your classroom where you display high-frequency words and new vocabulary. This constant visual reminder helps students reinforce their learning.

Picture Books: Picture books are excellent for teaching literacy skills. Have students analyze the book by looking at characters, settings, and plot development. This can lead to discussions and writing activities that deepen their understanding.

Kinesthetic Learning Opportunities

Kinesthetic learners benefit from hands-on activities that involve movement and action. These activities help them connect physical actions with reading concepts.

Physical Word Building: Use letter tiles or magnetic letters to build words. For example, give students a set of letters and ask them to form words. This activity reinforces their understanding of phonics and spelling.

Action-Based Storytelling: Incorporate movement into storytelling. Have students act out parts of a story while reading it. This not only makes reading fun but also helps them remember the story better.

By incorporating these multimodal learning strategies into your classroom, you can create a rich, engaging environment that supports all learners. Whether through auditory activities, visual supports, or kinesthetic opportunities, these science of reading activities ensure every student has a chance to succeed.

Technology and Tools to Support Science of Reading Activities

Incorporating technology into science of reading activities can significantly enhance learning outcomes. Digital tools provide interactive and engaging ways to reinforce reading skills. Here are some effective tech-based strategies:

Digital Decodables

Digital decodables are online versions of decodable books that students can read on tablets, computers, or other devices. These resources are designed to align with systematic phonics instruction, ensuring that students practice reading texts that match their current level of phonics knowledge.

Case Study: A school district in Texas implemented a digital decodable program and saw a 20% increase in reading fluency scores within six months. Teachers reported that students were more motivated to read when using digital devices.

Interactive Games

Interactive games make learning to read fun and engaging. These games often include activities like matching letters to sounds, building words, and reading sentences. They provide immediate feedback, which helps students correct mistakes and learn more effectively.

Example: "ABCmouse" and "Starfall" are popular educational platforms that offer a variety of reading games. Research has shown that students who regularly use these platforms improve their phonics and vocabulary skills faster than those who do not.

Online Reading Platforms

Online reading platforms offer a vast library of books that cater to different reading levels and interests. These platforms often include features like read-alouds, interactive dictionaries, and comprehension quizzes, which support various aspects of reading development.

Fact: According to a study by the International Literacy Association, students who used online reading platforms for 20 minutes a day showed significant improvements in reading comprehension and vocabulary.

Popular Platforms: - Epic!: Offers thousands of books for kids of all ages, with features like read-to-me and quizzes. - Raz-Kids: Provides leveled books and quizzes that help track student progress.

child reading on an online platform - science of reading activities

By integrating these digital tools into your classroom, you can create a dynamic and interactive learning environment. These science of reading activities not only make learning fun but also provide the necessary support to help all students succeed.

Frequently Asked Questions about Science of Reading Activities

How do you teach the science of reading?

Teaching the science of reading involves using evidence-based practices that focus on the five essential components: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Here’s how to get started:

  1. Learn: Familiarize yourself with the latest research and methodologies. Resources like the What Works Clearinghouse offer trusted reports and practice guides.

  2. Stop using the 3 cueing system: This outdated method involves guessing words based on context, pictures, or initial letters. Instead, focus on systematic phonics instruction.

  3. Replace predictable texts: Use decodable texts that align with phonics instruction. These texts allow students to apply their decoding skills effectively.

What are the big 5 of science of reading?

The "big 5" components of the science of reading are:

  1. Phonemic Awareness: The ability to hear, identify, and manipulate individual sounds in spoken words.
  2. Phonics: Understanding the relationship between letters and sounds, enabling students to decode words.
  3. Fluency: The ability to read text accurately, quickly, and with proper expression.
  4. Vocabulary: Knowing the meaning of a wide variety of words and the ability to use them correctly.
  5. Comprehension: The ability to understand and interpret what is read.

What is the best training for the science of reading?

Several training programs are highly recommended for educators looking to implement science of reading activities effectively:

  • Orton Gillingham: A structured, multisensory approach to teaching reading that is particularly effective for students with dyslexia.
  • IMSE (Institute for Multi-Sensory Education): Offers comprehensive training in the Orton-Gillingham approach, focusing on multisensory learning.
  • AOGPE (Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators): Provides certification and training in the Orton-Gillingham methodology, ensuring high standards of practice.

These programs help educators develop the skills needed to teach reading effectively, ensuring that all students have the opportunity to become proficient readers.


At Hello Decodables, we are passionate about transforming the way students learn to read. Our approach is grounded in the science of reading and aims to foster lifelong reading skills through engaging and effective activities.

Hello Decodables

Hello Decodables offers a wide range of resources designed to support teachers and students on their reading journey. Our decodable books are meticulously crafted to align with the principles of explicit, systematic phonics instruction. This structured approach ensures that students are not just memorizing words but truly understanding the mechanics of reading.

Our materials are evidence-based, making them a reliable choice for educators who want to implement the latest research in their classrooms. By focusing on phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension, we provide a comprehensive toolkit for reading success.

Lifelong Reading Skills

The ultimate goal of our resources is to develop lifelong reading skills. We believe that reading is not just about decoding words but also about connecting ideas, building knowledge, and fostering a love for literature. Our decodable books are designed to grow with students, gradually increasing in complexity as their skills develop.

Research shows that students who receive high-quality reading instruction are more likely to become proficient readers. By using our resources, educators can ensure that their students are on the path to reading success, equipped with the skills they need for academic and life-long achievements.

Engaging Learning Experiences

We know that engagement is key to effective learning. That's why our resources are not only educational but also fun and interactive. From colorful illustrations to captivating storylines, our decodable books are designed to capture students' interest and make learning to read an enjoyable experience.

We also incorporate various multisensory techniques to cater to different learning styles, ensuring that every student can benefit from our materials. Whether it's through hands-on activities, interactive games, or digital platforms, our goal is to make reading instruction as engaging and effective as possible.

In conclusion, Hello Decodables is committed to providing educators with the tools they need to teach reading effectively. Our resources are rooted in the science of reading, designed to develop lifelong reading skills, and crafted to create engaging learning experiences.

Discover more about how our decodable books can support your classroom by visiting our guide to decodable books.

Hello Decodables


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