Teaching Kindergarten Students Sight Words

Teaching Kindergarten Students Sight Words

As a kindergarten teacher, teaching sight words is one of my most important priorities. If my students can learn to read quickly, they will be able to understand everything they read and have so much more success in their education. That's why it's important for me to know which activities and resources are best for teaching sight words. In this blog post, we will discuss the best ways to practice and learn sight words!

K Sight words are a great place to start when teaching sight words because they are designed specifically for kindergarteners. These resources are usually colorful and engaging, which helps keep kindergarteners interested. Plus, they often come with games and activities to help kids practice what they've learned.

Why teaching Sight Words is important?

Teaching sight words is important because it helps children learn to read quickly and fluently. When kids can recognize sight words instantly, they are able to focus on the meaning of the text rather than decoding each word. This helps them better understand what they're reading and makes reading more enjoyable for them.

One of the most important things that kindergarten teachers can do is to teach their students sight words. Sight words are those words that can not be sounded out, and must be learned by sight. Why are they so important? There are a few reasons. First, many of the words we use most frequently in English are sight words. Second, once children know a sight word, they can begin to recognize it in other contexts, which helps improve their reading fluency. And finally, knowing sight words frees up cognitive resources so that children can focus on decoding the rest of the text. Teaching sight words is an essential part of preparing students for success in reading.

Being able to read sight words is an important skill for any early reader to develop. Sight words are words that can not be sounded out, and must be learned by sight. Some common sight words include: the, of, and, a, to, in, is, you, that, it, he, was, for, on, are, as, with, his, they. These words make up a large percentage of the English language, and being able to recognize them quickly can help your child to become a more confident reader. While there are many sight words to learn, starting with a few of the most common ones is a good way to begin. As your child becomes more familiar with these words, they can gradually start adding more to their repertoire. In no time at all, they'll be reading like a pro!

Sight words are an important part of reading, but they can be tricky to learn. That's why it's important to find activities and resources that work best for your students. If you're looking for some great ways to teach sight words, check out the list below!


How can you practice K Sight words?


Here are a number of different ways that you can practice K sight words. One way is to use flashcards. This method works best if you have someone else help you, as they can hold up the cards for you and say the word out loud. You can either make your own flashcards or purchase a set online or from a store. There are also many apps that you can download that will allow you to play games with sight words. Another way to practice sight words is by reading books that contain high-frequency words. These books are specifically designed to help children learn these important words. Finally, another great resource for practicing sight words is websites that offer free printables and activities. Readingteacher.com is one of them and you can sign up for free here.

Another way to practice is by using worksheets or coloring pages that have K sight words on them. You can also find many online games and activities that will help you learn and remember K sight words. Whatever method you choose, be sure to keep practicing until you know all of the words!

When it comes to teaching sight words, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. However, research has shown that the most effective way to teach sight words is by using a combination of activities. This includes activities such as flashcards, word searches, and dictation. By using a variety of activities, students are more likely to retain the information and be able to apply it in different contexts. In addition, it is important to provide plenty of opportunities for practice. This means that students should be given ample time to read and write the words individually and in context. With consistent practice, students will be able to confidently identify and use sight words in their reading and writing.

Sight words are an important part of learning to read, and these activities will help your child master them in no time! There are lots of other great activities and resources out there for teaching sight words. So get practicing and have fun! Your child will be a reading pro in no time. Thanks for reading!

By following these tips, you will be well on your way to teaching your students how to read sight words quickly and accurately!


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Online Reading Programs for Struggling Readers

Online Reading Programs for Struggling Readers

With the Internet at our fingertips, finding the right online program for your reader might seem like a simple task. At Reading Teacher, we understand that finding online reading programs for struggling readers can quickly evolve into hours of research and unnecessary stress. Summertime is not the time to be stressing about your student’s reading success - which is why we’re taking the time to explain how online reading programs can support and renew the confidence of struggling readers.

Online Reading Programs for beginners

Signs of Reading Difficulty


Take a peek at your most recent search history. If “online reading program for struggling readers” is at the top of your list, you may have noticed some behaviors that now motivate your search. Yet when elementary schoolers spend all day at school, it can be surprisingly difficult to assess their reading proficiency. If you’re unsure, read a grade-level book with your child and take note of the following signs:


  • Sounding out words is a chore
  • Recognizing common sight words is just as difficult, even after regular exposure
  • The reader struggles to manipulate sounds and understand how they form words, suggesting poor phonological awareness
  • They also struggle to summarize or retell stories they’ve just read
    • The culprit? Poor reading comprehension, which usually stems from issues with decoding. When struggling readers focus all of their attention on simply decoding words, the story’s plot line fades into the background.
  • Frequently guessing at or skipping words, despite encountering the same words in decodable readers
Online Reading Programs

Why Is My Student Struggling With Reading?


Understandably, most online reading programs for struggling readers target the most common reading issues: struggles with decoding, sounding out words, and comprehension. Even after their students become strong readers, parents and educators are often left wondering: why did my student struggle in the first place? While no child’s journey is the same, researchers have identified some common reasons for reading setbacks:


  • Remote Learning: The young readers of 2022 represent a unique cohort of students whose earliest reading lessons took place 100% online. The lasting impact of virtual learning on reading proficiency remains unclear, but early U.S. research suggests the long-term negative impact of distance learning on reading fluency.
  • Dyslexia and Other Learning Challenges: In our fast-paced world, reading disabilities and attention disorders such as Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) easily go unnoticed. Without proper treatment, learning disabilities can limit a child’s ability to attend to - and ultimately comprehend - their reading assignments.
  • Mismatch in Learning Styles: Your student may be an auditory learner - but their teacher’s reading curriculum caters to visual learners. Understanding different learning styles can help parents and teachers find online programs for struggling readers that supplement students’ classroom or daytime reading lessons.


Reading Programs for Struggling Readers in Elementary School

Online Reading Programs for Struggling Readers

Especially for struggling readers, establishing a strong foundation in phonics is a #1 priority. The Reading Teacher phonics program includes a library of 100 decodable books and 300 printable materials tailored to struggling readers in kindergarten and elementary school. The first level of Reading Teacher is completely free and grants teachers, parents, and students full access to interactive & decodable stories.


The science of reading shows that phonics are essential for developing phonological awareness: a key building block for lifelong reading. When it comes to reading, research also demonstrates that two senses are better than one. In light of these findings, Reading Teacher’s online curriculum uses audio to introduce students to novel sounds. When students encounter new words and letters, they’ll develop a firmer grip on the relationship between words, letters, and sounds, which is essential for long-term reading success.


As with most things in life, the journey is worth the destination. It may take time, but investing in an online reading program can transform the outlook of a struggling reader.



  • To identify the best online reading programs for struggling readers, adults should take note of poor reading comprehension, struggles with decoding, and other common signs of reading difficulty.
  • Today’s elementary schoolers struggle with reading for a variety of reasons, including a history of remote literacy lessons, learning disabilities, and a mismatch between their learning styles and the reading lessons used by teachers and/or parents.
  • Coupling in-person reading lessons with an online reading program can help meet the needs of struggling readers.

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What is the Difference Between Phonological Awareness and Phonemic Awareness?

What is the Difference Between Phonological Awareness and Phonemic Awareness?

At Reading Teacher, we understand the struggle. When teachers try to learn new reading terms, they’re often faced with a storm of conflicting information, provided by everyone’s favorite yet sometimes unreliable friend: the Internet. We’ll save you the stress by outlining the difference between phonological awareness and phonemic awareness, followed by reading activities that help readers understand the tricky relationship between sounds and words.

Phonemic Awareness and Phonological Awareness Similar

What is Phonological Awareness?

Phonological awareness is the ability to manipulate individual units of sound, or phonemes, and understand how they form words. If a reader can blend, separate, add, delete, or substitute sounds, then they are master manipulators - of sound, that is.


What Does It Mean to Manipulate Sounds?

When defining phonological vs. phonemic awareness, we need to know what it truly means to manipulate a sound. Take the word “cat,” for instance: to assess whether a child is able to manipulate the sounds in the word “cat,” you can ask them to blend the sounds /c/ /a/ /t/, without telling them that these three phonemes form the word “cat.”

Phonemic Awareness and Phonological Awareness

Phonological Awareness Activities

What is a phonological awareness activity? Any lesson that asks a reader to manipulate sounds by blending, segmenting, adding, deleting, or substituting to form a word. Although we’ll continue with our “cat” example, any age-appropriate sight word can be used to practice the manipulation of sound.

  • Back to “cat”: you can directly present the word “cat” to a child and ask them to separate the sounds into /c/ /a/ /t/
  • Ask the reader: what’s another that sounds like “cat”? Answers could be “car,” “camp,” “cow,” or any other word that starts with /c/
  • Extra tricky: ask them to substitute sounds by giving them a new phoneme to start the word. Instead of /c/, substitute /r/ to sound out “rat”

What is Phonemic Awareness?
Compared to phonological awareness, which focuses on the connection between sounds and the words they form, phonemic awareness concentrates on the individual sounds in spoken language, defined as phonemes.


There are 44 phonemes in the English language - but with 26 letters in the English alphabet, how is this possible? The answer lies in the concept of digraph phonemes, in which two consonants create blended sounds. Sounds such as /sh/ and /ch/ may be composed of two letters each, but they’re still perfectly valid phonemes.

Phonological Awareness

Phonemic Awareness Activities
Because phonemic awareness is so specific, it can be difficult for educators to come up with targeted reading activities to test this skill. Because phonemic awareness assumes that readers are able to hear individual sounds, related activities can push children to become better listeners and interpreters of sound. Some simple ideas include:

  • Clap It Out: Sing a song or recite a favorite poem with your child, and clap loudly as soon as you hear a new syllable.
  • Noisy Phonemes: Find a “mystery item” in your home that makes a recognizable noise: perhaps a piece of bubble wrap, pot, or another noisy item. Have your child close their eyes, listen to the sound made by the item, and guess what it is, answering in a full sentence! This is an easy phonemic awareness activity for younger and/or more active readers.


How are Phonemic Awareness and Phonological Awareness Similar?

Both phonological and phonemic awareness emphasize sounds instead of letters. A handy rule of thumb - or tongue, in this context! - is that because phonological and phonemic awareness attend to sounds only and not letters, any activities that test these two skills can be done in the dark.


When explaining the differences between phonological awareness and phonemic awareness to a fellow teacher, start with the basics. As tedious as it can feel, this knowledge can take reading teachers, their lesson plans, and their readers much farther than they’d expect.

Phonemic Awareness


  • Phonological awareness refers to the ability to manipulate sounds and use them to form words, while phonemic awareness is hyper-focused on the ability to hear individual sounds.
  • Both phonemic and phonological awareness are focused on sound units, not letters.
  • Phonological awareness activities ask readers to blend, segment, and otherwise manipulate sounds, whereas phonemic awareness activities highlight the connection between hearing and speaking individual sound units.

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Know a Struggling Reader in 1st Grade? 4 Strategies That Just Might Work

Know a Struggling Reader in 1st Grade? 4 Strategies That Just Might Work

1st grade is a time of exploration, play, social development, and, crucially, learning how to read. In anticipation of summertime - and, hopefully, more reading time - we’re outlining common reading goals and strategies to support struggling reader in 1st grade.

strategies for struggling reader

1st Grade Reading Goals

If your 1st grade reader is struggling, it might be time to adjust their reading goals and introduce new strategies to guide them toward success. Throughout the year and into the summer, there are several common reading goals for first graders to work toward:


  1. Learning common sight words.

Sight words are often defined as words that kids can’t sound out with phonics, such as the, who, one, and you. Other high-frequency words are easier to sound out: think “it,” “run,” “like,” “can,” and others. While memorization of these words should not replace phonemic awareness, increasing first graders’ familiarity with high-frequency, one-syllable words can boost their reading confidence.


  1. Answering questions about books they’ve read.

After each reading session, adults can facilitate a “mini book club” by asking the child questions about the book, helping them summarize the story, and generally discussing the book, all of which show the child’s understanding of the content.


  1. Developing a love for reading.

For a first grade struggling reader, nurturing their love for literature may seem like a lofty goal. Yet for parents and teachers, there’s no need to stress: developing a passion for books is a long-term goal! To get a headstart, offer regular and frequent exposure to books and decodable readers that align with the child’s skills and individual interests. Dinosaurs, fairies, big cats, you name it: there’s a book for your first grader.

Strategies that Just might work for 1st grader

How to Help My Struggling 1st Grader in Reading

After setting these reading goals, there are numerous strategies to help struggling readers in first grade transform into second grade superstars.


  1. Set individualized reading goals.

Make a reading goal chart, tracker, or even a paper chain link with one reading goal written on each link. For struggling readers in first grade, being able to visualize and check off their reading goals makes success more tangible and exciting.


  1. Establish reading time - and make it fun.

Imagine: just 10-15 minutes every day can. Make reading a daily habit by making it fun: read as a family in a quiet and cozy corner of the house, and discuss your books after the timer goes off.


  1. Visit the library this summer.

School is out, which means the library is IN. Many local libraries sponsor summer reading challenges and events to support students of all abilities, including struggling readers in first grade and other age groups.


  1. Find creative ways to read.

With the help of an adult, first graders can draw and write their own books - then read them out loud to others as newly “published” authors. Families can watch movies together with subtitles to encourage subconscious reading. And don’t shy away from graphic novels and other nontraditional reads: for a first grader, any reading is good reading.


Even for struggling readers in 1st grade, meeting their reading goals is possible when educators and parents meet them at eye-level. From an adult perspective, this means regularly checking in with your first grader, identifying their reading strengths and weaknesses, and modifying reading activities to reflect their goals and personal interests. No first grader is the same - and that’s what makes their reading journey both challenging and rewarding.

Strategies for struggling readers


  • If you’re wondering how to help a struggling reader in 1st grade, it’s important to understand & establish common reading goals for first graders: among them, recognizing high-frequency sight words and showing signs of reading comprehension.
  • For 1st graders who are struggling to keep up with their peers, adults can adopt several strategies, including:
    • Using visual tools to track reading progress
    • Establishing reading time as a family or classroom
    • Taking advantage of the local library
    • Combining art and reading, using subtitles during movies, and finding other creative ways to sneak reading into your child’s everyday routine

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Should We Practice Sight Words With Preschoolers?

Should We Practice Sight Words With Preschoolers?

Preschool: a place for show & tell, songs, coloring books, and learning how to read. If you’re the parent or educator of beginning readers, you might be wondering: should we teach reading, and more specifically, “sight words” in preschool? And if you’re entirely new to preschool education, it’s just as acceptable to ask: what are sight words?


Today, we’ll use experts’ advice to answer these questions, offer strategies for practicing sight words, and outline the best sight words for preschool and kindergarten classrooms.

practicing sight words

What Are Sight Words?

Sight words can be recognized instantly: they’re simple words that a reader can “see” and pronounce without sounding out or guessing. An early reader’s set of sight words will vary slightly, as every preschooler or kindergartner is exposed to different books and varied sets of sight words. That said, most sight words are high frequency words that appear regularly in many children’s books. Think “the,” “a,”, “I,” “to,” and other words that aren’t easily sounded out but appear regularly in decodable books.


When to Teach Sight Words

Before practicing sight words with preschoolers, they should be showing signs of reading readiness:

  • Holding books and turning their pages correctly, from left to right
  • Ability to listen to a story, answer questions about it, and retell a familiar narrative in their own words
  • Alphabet knowledge: ability to recognize and sound out most letters
  • Phonemic awareness!


The final point is especially important. Learning to read is not simply a matter of practicing sight words. Before presenting a list of words to your preschooler or kindergartner, they should have a solid foundation in phonemic awareness: the ability to sound out the individual sounds in words. A preschooler who can blend simple sounds - /c/ /a/ /t/ to produce the word “cat,” for example - may be more prepared to memorize a list of preschool reading words than a kindergartner who is not as advanced in their phonemic awareness. In the realm of sight words, patience is key: your kindergartner may be more advanced than your struggling first grader, and this is simply part of the reading journey - not a determinant of either child’s long-term reading success.

practicing sight words with preschoolers

What Are the Best Sight Words?

With time and exposure to more books, young readers will develop their phonemic awareness. They’ll be able to count syllables in words, rhyme, and identify the first and last sounds in a word. At this point, you can craft or modify a list of the best sight words. These lists vary among reading experts and can also be modified to include high-frequency words in any decodables you plan to read with your child. That said, some of the best kindergarten sight words include:

  • Can
  • Am
  • Are
  • At
  • Do
  • For
  • Go
  • Has
  • Have
  • He


…Just to list a few! Note that these lists can be modified and expanded based on the needs and skills of the child. For pre-K or “pre-readers,” Readsters recommends these preschool reading words:

  • The
  • A
  • I
  • To
  • And
  • Was
  • For
  • You
  • Is
  • of


Like any skill, a mix of repetition and learning new concepts is essential. If your child is reading-ready, practicing sight words on a daily basis will enhance their reading fluency, phonemic awareness, and overall confidence.

Should We Practice Sight Words With Preschoolers


  • Sight words can be used to increase reading fluency in a child who is ready to read.
  • Signs of reading readiness include understanding how to hold and read a book from left to right, alphabet knowledge, ability to listen to and retell stories, and phonemic awareness.
  • Phonemic awareness is an especially important foundation to establish before practicing sight words with preschool- and kindergarten-aged students.
  • The best sight words for early readers will vary depending on their skills and access to decodable readers, but many experts offer lists of the best high-frequency words for pre-readers.

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How To Choose Decodable Readers for First Grade

How To Choose Decodable Readers for First Grade

To decode or not to decode: really, there is no question. To help rising first graders become successful and enthusiastic readers this summer, decodable readers are essential reading resources. Although “decodable text” might sound like yet another form of educational lingo, parents and educators can rest assured: decodable texts are actually a simple way to guide young learners toward independent reading.

choose decodable readers for first grade

What Is Decodable Text?

First, let’s revisit one of the fundamentals of early reading: contrary to past belief, most children learn how to read with a systematic and structured literacy curriculum that gradually stretches their reading capabilities with phonics and decoding lessons, spelling activities, and decodable text.


Decodable text, decodables, and decodable readers are all synonymous. These books are written with phonics patterns that students have already learned in phonics lessons, either at school or via online phonics programs like Reading Teacher. True to their name, decodable books facilitate the process of decoding: therefore, their simple stories feature the letter-sound patterns that students learned during explicit and systematic phonics lessons. As you read more decodables, you’ll find that they are organized by phonics patterns: for example, a first grade phonics book might focus explicitly on the short letter “a” sound, with words such as “bat,” “cat”, and “rat.” This focused approach allows young readers to gradually learn new phonetic patterns and develop a true feeling of reading success.

decodable readers for first grade

1st Grade Decodable Books

At Reading Teacher, we know that feeling successful is key for any first grader learning to read. For both parents and educators, there are numerous decodable readers for first grade that emphasize the dynamic duo of early reading: phonics and decoding. If you’re looking for a decodable reader for your first grader,  keep the following tips in mind when searching for the best decodable books.


  1. Focus on one-syllable words.

Most first grade classrooms focus on blending or breaking apart each sound of most one-syllable words. When choosing a decodable reader for first grade students, make sure to focus on one-syllable words before progressing to more challenging letter-sound combinations.


  1. Read words with long vowel sounds.

Reading teachers often say that long vowels “say their name.” In the world of phonics and decoding, long vowels can be tricky to understand due the sheer number of spellings for each long vowel sound. 1st grade decodable books that feature one of the 7 long vowel sounds - for example, the “oo” sound in the words “spoon,” “blue,” “screw,” and “you” - are an excellent choice.


  1. Make some noise about the silent “e.”

Once your first grader has conquered the simpler steps of decoding, it’s time to sound out more complex words, such as those that end with a silent “e.” The summer can be an excellent time to challenge rising first graders with more complicated and plot-driven decodable texts that stretch their reading skills and their imaginations.


Whether you’re a parent or teacher, our Reading Teacher program is an ideal resource for practicing these tips. Modeled after the I See Sam decodable book series, our program similarly highlights decodable words in each of its interactive stories. Each decodable word is clickable, which enables children to hear the words as they read the story. Wherever they are in their reading journey, we’re here to help your child progress from phonics and decoding lessons to lifelong, independent, and joy-filled reading.

decodable readers for first grade


  • Decoding is a foundational skill for first graders learning to read.
  • Decodable readers for first grade are essential resources for any first grade classroom or parent.
  • 1st grade decodable books should focus on developmentally-appropriate reading skills and phonics lessons: most notably, one-syllable words, long vowel sounds, and a few more complicated decoding and phonics patterns such as the silent “e.”

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Summertime = Reading Time: 4 Summer Reading Ideas for Families

Summertime = Reading Time: 4 Summer Reading Ideas for Families

At Reading Teacher, summertime is reading time. In any family with young readers, parents often wonder how they can reframe summer as an opportunity for young readers to read more - and with more confidence, skill, and enthusiasm! Of course, this is no small challenge - but with our 4 tips for summer reading success, you’ll be swapping out summer sun for hours of summer reading.

summer reading ideas for children

Summer Reading Ideas


1. Join your library summer reading program

It’s time to stop by the local library and befriend your librarian. Across the U.S., hundreds of libraries organize summer reading programs that encourage young readers to meet their reading goals. In addition to summer reading, many libraries are also crucial resources for providing nutrition assistance to families in need. Between reading and summer lunches, libraries are true gems in any community’s social fabric. And if you’re dealing with an especially picky reader, librarians are nothing short of magic: by chatting with a youngster about their niche interests and hobbies, librarians can direct them toward the book of their dreams.


2. Make your family’s summer reading list

‘Tis the season to build a fort in the living room and hunker down for some serious summer reading. Consider compiling a summer reading list for your kids to jumpstart your very own summer reading club. Whether your kiddos are in elementary, middle, or high school, the entire family can engage in your summer reading club. Make it extra fancy with summer snacks and beverages, and be open to your kids’ book suggestions: with the rise of #BookTok and other literary social media outlets, children’s tech knowledge is invaluable when trying to identify the family’s first summer read.

reading ideas in Summer
3. Read everything!

When brainstorming summer reading ideas, many reading experts stress the importance of allowing children to follow their natural interests. Graphic novels, magazines, and other “unconventional” texts are just as valid as a hefty nonfiction novel. In any summer reading program, the goal is to cultivate a natural love for reading. Consider graphic series, comics, and other nontraditional reads that can be added to your family’s summer reading list.


4. Use reading technology to your advantage

It’s 2022, which means that screens are everywhere. Use them to support your family’s summer reading goals by finding audio books, TV shows and movies inspired by your child’s favorite books, and even podcasts created for kids to hear and discuss other kids’ literary favs. Some expert recommendations include Book Club for Kids and this handy list of TV shows based on books. The science of reading supports the use of reading technology, and particularly in the summertime when children tend to be less exposed to phonics, spelling activities, and other structured literacy components of early reading.

summer reading ideas


  • Summer is an opportunity for families to connect with and support their children through reading.
  • Joining your library’s summer reading program, creating a family reading list, and using reading technology such as podcasts, audiobooks, and film are all easy and affordable ways to cultivate a love for reading at home.
  • This summer, families are also encouraged to branch out and explore alternative forms of summer reading, such as graphic novels and comics, that can satisfy even the pickiest reader.

Start Teaching Reading for Free Now!

Access Level 1’s four interactive stories and the accompanying supplemental resources to teach elementary students how to read. No credit card is needed. Join the 42,635 teachers and students using our reading program.

Training Teachers On the Science of Reading: How Do Teachers Really Feel?

Training Teachers On the Science of Reading: How Do Teachers Really Feel?

It takes a lot to teach a child how to read. Pile on mandatory training requirements to any teacher’s workload, and educators are bound to feel overwhelmed - particularly in the aftermath of virtual learning loss. On-the-ground reflections from Utah educators give U.S. teachers - and parents - an insight into the teacher side of science of reading training, and how this training is affecting U.S. classrooms in real-time.

Teachers Training

In Utah, KUER Public Radio recently interviewed third grade teacher Cassie White, who initially felt that her school district’s new teacher training requirement would be a “waste of time.” Yet to White’s surprise, Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) provided her science of reading-approved lessons that she could immediately implement in her classroom, along with research-driven training videos and reading tests. White’s school, Centennial Elementary, mandated a new teacher training program in January 2021; the science of reading-approved materials were intended to boost reading scores, noting that approximately 25% of the district’s students read below grade level reading milestones. While it’s difficult to quantify the impact of teachers’ LETRS training on their students’ reading outcomes, White says that her students are making visible progress: around three-quarters of her class achieved above or above-average growth on their 2021 end-of-the-year reading tests.


In spite of these anecdotal achievements, it’s important to note that retraining teachers on the science of reading - and tracking long-term student reading progress - will take time, effort, buy-in from educators, and, inevitably, money. Utah used a portion of its 2021 federal COVID funding to retrain 8,000 teachers with LETRS, and the state will allocate an additional $20 million this year. In addition to basic training on the science of reading, federal funding for states who are recommitting to students’ literacy success will fund more literacy coaches in classrooms, as well as the process of gathering experts to oversee and evaluate the overall success of science-driven reading curricula.

Teachers training program

Fundamentally, LETRS and other science of reading programs recognize the importance of breaking down words and linking letters to their sounds. These programs redirect focus to the 3 elements of a word: sound (phonemes), letters and letter combinations (graphemes), and the overall meaning. As invaluable as phoneme-grapheme mapping activities are in the classroom, teachers’ newfound knowledge may not go far without opportunities to give and receive feedback on their reading instruction. This sentiment is upheld by the University of Utah Reading Clinic, which is committed to creating more spaces for teachers to learn about the science of reading and observe other trained teachers. As more states move to give teachers the knowledge they need - and desire - to improve students’ reading outcomes, recent insights from Utah-based educators remind us that we can’t simply dump knowledge of teachers and continue moving. To see true reading success in the classroom, teachers need - and deserve - opportunities to retrain on the science of reading and observe teachers in action, increasing their confidence to act on their own.

science of reading


  • Utah is one of 18 U.S. states that has allocated federal COVID relief funds toward retraining teachers on the science of reading.
  • While some teachers express concerns about having enough time and energy to complete required trainings, many school districts report positive impacts on their reading instruction and students’ reading scores since requiring teacher training.
  • In addition to LETRS and other science of reading training programs, teachers will likely need support from a combination of high-impact classroom tutors, reading coaches, and opportunities to exchange feedback with other educators.

Start Teaching Reading for Free Now!

Access Level 1’s four interactive stories and the accompanying supplemental resources to teach elementary students how to read. No credit card is needed. Join the 42,635 teachers and students using our reading program.

The Science of Spelling

The Science of Spelling

These days, we talk a lot about phonics - but what about spelling? In many elementary schools and school districts, the old fashioned spelling bee has returned as a means of fostering both spelling skills and healthy competition among aspiring readers and writers. Inspired by the resurgence of the spelling bee and Wordle, we dive into the latest research on spelling activities and their importance for young readers.

science of spelling

Spelling Lessons for Kindergarten & 1st Grade


Among researchers, the findings are clear: combining explicit spelling and phonics instruction is essential for early readers. Both cognitive psychology and neuroscience researchers have found that spelling is a crucial component of the brain’s reading architecture. Through spelling activities, children learn to map the sounds of words to their letters in spoken language. Compared to simply eyeing the letters, spelling requires more long-term memory and a deeper level of analysis to successfully sound out and write a word at the same time.


In a fluent reader of any language, the brain integrates spelling and visualization of phonics patterns to achieve “automaticity”: the ability to read and comprehend fluently, and to spell with relative ease. The English language has an especially complex reading map, which typically requires around two years of word study in kindergarten and first grade before students amass a vocabulary of around 300+ words that they read and spell automatically. This process aligns with the research of developmental cognitive scientist Linnea Ehri, who wrote that “learning to read and learning to spell are one and the same, almost” (Ehri, 1997).


The “almost” lies in the code of orthography. Spelling requires students to actively use the “orthographic code,” which is cracked when readers learn how to write using the correct order of letters according to their accepted usage. Compared to reading, which only requires the pronunciation of a word, spelling presents the dual challenge of writing letters in their correct sequence. As students learn to spell, they learn how to break down words into their sounds and map individual letters or “chunks” to the corresponding sounds. They also develop phoneme awareness and letter knowledge, which Hulme et al. highlighted as two key steps for children learning to read.

reading book

A 2022 Danish study recently endorsed the importance of integrating spelling activities and phonics, even for students who have not yet achieved grade-level reading milestones. The researchers found that early spelling activities were associated with significant gains in phoneme awareness, spelling, and reading, compared to classrooms in the “phonics alone” condition or those in the “business-as-usual” condition. Similar results are mirrored across a range of languages and for students experiencing difficulties with early reading; for English learners, researchers similarly found that spell-to-read activities enhance the brain’s reading architecture and ultimately boost their phoneme awareness.


Spelling Games and Resources


If you’re looking for more spelling ideas and activities to enhance your structured literacy classroom, we have a few recommendations:


  1. Baseball Spelling, which uses baseball terminology to reinforce your weekly spelling words
  2. Stair Steps, an easy DIY spelling game that helps students memorize the way words are spelled
  3. Sensory Spelling, which utilizes a range of unusual materials - sand, shaving cream, wood Scrabble letters, you name it - to encourage spelling words in exciting, sensory ways


Keep reading, keep spelling, and come back next week for the latest reading resources to support the young readers in your life.

science of reading


  • Based on reading science research, both spelling activities and explicit phonics instruction are essential for early readers.
  • Due to its reliance on long-term memory and the orthographic code, spelling presents a greater challenge to the reading brain.
  • When students learn to spell in their spoken language, they are positioned to read and write more fluently and confidently, particularly if structured spelling lessons are taught from kindergarten through first grade.

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How to Teach Phonics to Your First Grader

How to Teach Phonics to Your First Grader

Phonics is an essential building block of reading skills. It’s also one of the most challenging parts of teaching a first grade. That’s because reading and writing skills develop at different rates in each child. For example, some children learn letter sounds earlier than others. Some take longer to decode words. Some have a harder time following directions. Teach phonics to a child is a challenging, especially for parents who are new to the homeschooling lifestyle. However, with a little preparation, you can make teaching reading skills to your first grader fun and rewarding.


In this blog post, we’ll discuss how to teach your first grader how to read. We’ll also discuss how to teach them how to read phonetically. Once your child has a firm understanding of it, you can work on teaching them how to read phonetically.


Teaching your homeschooled child how to read is no different than teaching any other subject. You just have to make sure you take the time to teach them. Even if they’re in first grade.


Why Teach Phonics to a Homeschooled Child?


tech phonicsThe majority of children learn how to read at a very young age. However, some children learn at a much later age. This can be frustrating for parents and teachers. You might even consider an additional reading intervention. While all of this is certainly understandable, you must remember that reading is a complex skill.


Understanding how your child learns, as well as their current skill level, will help you decide when to introduce phonics to them. You’ll also have a better understanding of how to best teach your child so they can catch up and be on even grounds with their peers.


The advantage of teaching your child phonics at a younger age is that they are more likely to retain what you teach them. Furthermore, it will be easier for your child to “decode” words when they begin to read on their own.


So, why teach your first grader how to read phonics? Let’s discuss.


Help Your First Grader Understand the How


When you start to teach your first grader how to read, you will want to make sure they understand the “how.”. You can do this by explaining to them what reading is and how it helps them become smarter.


Reading is a powerful way for your child to gain knowledge and understand the world around them. Reading, as we all know, is communication. It requires your child to pull from their own experiences as well as the experiences of others.


When reading, your child is decoding written words. This means that they are breaking down the letters into sounds. Once your child can “read” the words, they can use what they’ve learned to make sense of what the words mean.

For example, let’s say your child is reading the word “dog.” They might notice that the “g” in “dog” is similar to the “k” in “kat.” So, your child might make the connection between the “g” in “dog” and “k” in “kitten.”


This is how reading affects your child’s brain. It allows them to build knowledge and store information. It also gives your child something to think about. This will help them stay focused during school hours, as well as improve their attention span.


Teach Your Child the Basics of Phonics


When it comes to teaching your child the basics of phonics, you can’t do it too early. It’s important to have a strong foundation in phonics so your child can better understand how to read.


By teaching your first grader the basics of phonics, you’re helping them break down the code used for reading. This will make it easier for them to decode words when they begin to read on their own.


There are a few ways you can teach your first grader about phonics. Here are some ideas to get you started.


Let’s Begin with the Alphabet: The easiest way to introduce the basics of phonics is to start out with the alphabet. Once your child understands how to write each letter of the alphabet, they can learn how to break down each sound it makes.


Let’s Say the Alphabet Song: Another way to introduce the basics of phonics is to sing the alphabet song. You can sing the alphabet song with your child while they are sitting in their chair or on the floor with a coloring book and a crayon.


Teach Phonics the Right Way


Like most skills, teaching your child how to read phonetically is a process of practice. You’ll need to work at it consistently if you want results.


When you’re teaching your first grader how to read phonetically, it’s important to remember that they don’t understand the meaning behind the words.


You can’t start teaching them phonics by having them understand the meaning behind the words. The meaning will come later. For now, your job is to teach the sounds the letters make.


There are a few ways you can go about teaching your first grader phonics. Here are some ideas to get you started.


Teach Sounds Before Letters


Children learn how to read and write words before they learn how to read letters. You can use this knowledge to your advantage by teaching your child sounds before you teach them letters.


For example, let’s say your 1st grader is learning the “b” sound. You can show your child how to make the sound by saying the letter “b” and clapping your hands together. After showing them how to make the sound, you can work on decoding the word “bicycle.”


Help Your Child Develop decoding skills: Another important step when teaching your child how to read phonetically is to help them develop decoding skills. Decoding is the process of breaking down words into their individual sounds.


For example, you can have your child read the word “cat” out loud and you can break down the letters into sounds. After your child has decoded the letters, you can discuss what the word “cat” sounds like.


Teach the "Sight Word" Strategy


The “Sight-Word” strategy is one of the most effective ways to teach your first grader how to read phonetically. The idea behind the sight word method is that you show your child only one word and give them a cue to help them identify the word.


For example, you can have your child say the word “dog” and then point to the picture of a dog when they say the word. This will help your child associate words with pictures and make it easier for them to read.


Wrapping Up: Teaching Phonics as a homeschooled parent


Now that you know how to teach your first grader phonics, it’s time to put your knowledge to the test. Get ready to launch into a rigorous homeschooling year. Your first grader will be reading at a level much higher than they were last year.

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Access Level 1’s four interactive stories and the accompanying supplemental resources to teach elementary students how to read. No credit card is needed. Join the 42,635 teachers and students using our reading program.

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