K-2 Resources: Reading like a Pro


Basic Skills

Reading begins by connecting printed symbols with sounds. Next, the reader applies the rules of letters and sounds to identify words. Older readers use these same skills to break down complicated vocabulary into understandable units or syllables. All these important skills help to “crack the code” of reading and writing for understanding. And it all begins with 26 letters and about 44 sounds. Amazing!

General Resources

Have you heard your child’s teacher mention “phonics” before and wondered what they were really talking about? Phonics is the relationship between the letters of written language and the individual sounds those letters make. Your child is learning how to put the letters and sounds together to create words. Below you will find some information on phonics and some great activities you can use at home to reinforce the basic reading skills your child is learning at school.

​Match up Sounds and Letters

Using flash cards, match the sound spoken with the letter that makes that sound. Start out using only 3-5 letter cards. First, you produce the sound and ask your child to choose the letter that makes that sound. For example, you say the sound the letter s makes and your child responds by make the sound—sssss. Later, switch roles and you must find the letter that matched the sound they produce. Start small. Use only a few letter sound cards and play often. Do not move on until the first sounds are AUTOMATIC! Variations: Find objects that start with and end with the sound.

Match up Spoken and Written Words

Using flash cards, match the spoken word with the letters that spell that word. Start using only 3-5 sight word cards. First you say the word, and then he or she chooses the card with that word. For example, you say the word, cat and your child selects the card with the written word cat. Later, switch roles and you find the word that matched the one spoken. Start small. Use only a few sight word cards and play often. Do not move on until the first words are AUTOMATIC! Variations: How fast can you read each card?

Tips for Sounding-It-Out

Watch the video to see how to model Sounding-It-Out. S-T-R-E-T-C-H out words to hear all the sounds that make up the word. This is a great activity to use with troublesome spelling words.

Word Family Reunion

A Word Family for early readers is a group of words that rhyme or have the same end sound, like hop, pop and top. This is the –OP Family! Thing, bring and sing is the –ING Family. Copy the Word Family cards TWICE and play Word Family Concentration. Turn the cards face down, mix them up and put them in rows. Each player turns two over in hopes of finding an exact match. Once you find a matching pair, it is yours to keep. The player with the most cards wins.

Reading Fluently: The Right Speed, Accuracy and Expression

Fluency--what is it? It is the ability to read quickly, accurately and with expression. It is the ability to make reading FLOW! We want our children to read fluently so that they understand what they read. How does one improve fluency? By reading! There are many things we can do to develop fluent readers.

General Resources

Looking for some general information on reading fluency? How about some great tips for building fluency at home? Look no further. You have come to the right spot!

Choose a Favorite Book

Choose a favorite book, a library book or a text book. Model fluent reading by reading aloud—with expression—to your child. Now it’s their turn! Repeated reading of the same book is quite all right. In fact, we LOVE repeated readings.

Speed Read Your Letters!

Print the Letter Sound Fluency activity sheet and see how quickly your child can identify letters and nonsense words. Repeat this activity often until your child is reading all letters automatically!

Repeated Phrases

Use 10 phrases from the list below and copy them into a list. Challenge your child to read them as quickly as possible. Repeated readings are excellent! Once mastered, create another list and continue the fun.

Additional Activities

If you’re still looking for some fluency ideas, here is another resource to expand your activities and develop students who read like a PRO!

Building a Strong Vocabulary

Why is vocabulary important? Creating a home environment that is rich in both print and the spoken word is critical to your child’s language development. Help your child build a rich vocabulary to become an effective reader and writer.

Websites Worth Visiting

Save these great sites on your computer to help your child develop a strong vocabulary.

At Home Ideas

Looking for some great tips for building vocabulary at home? Look no further. You have come to the right spot!

Refrigerator Word Banks

The “fridge” is a great place to save words and develop word families. For early readers, focus on a single letter and “collect” all the words that begin with that letter. Later, you can collect words in a theme, like KITCHEN words, ANIMAL words or words that make sounds like POW!

A Word A Day

Introduce a new word each day. Encourage each family member to keep track of how many times they were able to use the new word throughout the day so you can discuss it each evening. Have your child try and use the new word in a sentence when you are out and about or at the dinner table. Write the new word of the day on the bathroom mirror using a dry-erase marker. Have your child record the new word in a journal along with a definition and illustration. Keep it up every day and your child will add 365 new words to their vocabulary each year!

Connecting Real-World Experiences to What Your Child Is Reading

For children to truly understand what they read, they must have some experience with the topic to connect the new information to their understanding of the world. We can read a how-to manual on replacing a carburetor, but unless we have some basic understanding of car engines, we will never understand it. Likewise, children need many real-world experiences in order to understand what they are reading. Those experiences can be either real (trip to the zoo) or virtual (read a book about orangutans). It is essential that children build vast knowledge of the world around them in order to become great readers and writers.

Ways to Build Knowledge

Helping your child call to memory what he or she already knows about a topic before reading a text really helps your child connect the new learning to what is already known. Teachers call this activating prior knowledge.

Connect lessons from texts with experiences from your life. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Fables teach values and morals.
  • Look for texts that include cultural history and storytelling.
  • Consider texts that describe scientific processes as applied to recycling or space exploration.
  • Use the Internet to dig deeper.

Field Trips

Of course a trip to a museum or the zoo is an obvious way to build a child’s understanding of the world, but there are many ways to develop understanding right in your backyard! Share your hobby, use public transportation and explain how it works, take apart an old electronic device (anyone using telephones?), prepare a favorite recipe, listen to a genre of music—the sky is the limit. Just remember to ask questions, give explanations, write a review when the activity is complete or create a photo compilation of the event.

Brainstorming Sessions

What is brainstorming? It is bringing up a real-world problem (problems that are meaningful to younger children may include littering, messy bedroom, chores, forgetting to brush teeth, etc.) and trying to find solutions. However, there are some very important rules regarding the sharing of ideas and solutions. Most importantly, there is no such thing as a dumb idea! All ideas are welcome and encouraged. Out of someone’s zany idea might come a perfect solution to a problem. Take a look at the Rules for Brainstorming Sessions and try it at your next family dinner.

Understanding What Is Read

Reading the words and sentences in a text is only half the job. The other half requires understanding what is read. The purpose of reading is to get meaning from the written passage. Sometimes children learn to read the words of a text, without understanding the information within it. Comprehension is the ability to understand what is read and it is important to becoming an accomplished reader.

Probing Questions

Hold a conversation and discuss what your child has read. Ask your child probing questions about the book. For example, say, "I wonder why that girl did that?" or "How do you think he felt? Why?" and "So, what lesson can we learn here?"

Making Connections

Encourage your child to make connections while reading. By making connections to things he or she already knows, the child’s comprehension will increase.

Think Aloud

Children learn when they make connections between what they read and what they know. One method parents can use to help make these connections is called a think aloud, where you talk through your thoughts as you read. Use the think aloud method with anything you read, but you can apply it to a television show, a play or even a movie. Ask questions that encourage your child to draw conclusions, predict what happens next or determine motivations.