Science of Reading has taken over all things literacy in the classroom. Some of you may be asking, can I still conduct centers with the Science of Reading? The answer is YES! In this post we’ll discuss all about utilizing centers that are aligned to the science of reading. Not only are they aligned, they are hands on, fun, and meaningful.
Why Science of Reading
While many of us may have thought reading just happens along the way with a few phonics lessons and something magically “clicks”, it’s actually a lot more complicated than that. With the Science of Reading, we can take all the complicated parts and make them FUN and easy to teach, so that all of our students become proficient readers with great word attack strategies.
One of the biggest takeaways from the Science of Reading is Scarborough’s Reading rep. It emcompasses all the different skills that must be explicitly taught in order to reach the goal of comprehension. Scarborough’s Reading Rope expands on all the sub skills that are involved in word recognition and language comprehension. Every essential component of reading is highlighted on it and each strand has to be mastered so that tight rope can be formed, which gives us our skilled reader. When a child is struggling, we can identify the strand, or strands, that are loose to provide targeted intervention. It’s such a powerful tool that we can use to help all of our students become proficient readers. If you want to learn more about the Science of Reading, check out this ultimate guide here!
I am a huge proponent of what is best for students and what I have learned is that students need to play. They need to move their bodies, manipulate materials with their hands, engage in positive interactions with people, and have fun while learning.
There is a lot of research that supports the importance of learning through play but I’m only going to highlight one that really stuck with me. The study comes from the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development:
“Scientists have discovered that it takes approximately 400 repetitions to create a new synapse in the brain, unless it is done in play, in which case it only takes 10 to 20 repetitions.” If you ask me, that’s some really powerful piece of information. Do you know what that can do for a student’s academic performance? Let them play! Which brings us to my favorite thing- hands on, FUN, activities for students to learn. Let’s get into our engaging activities!
Easy SoR Aligned Activities
There are five essential components that the Science of Reading identifies as crucial for skilled reading: Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Fluency, Vocabulary, and Comprehension. With these components at the forefront of our mind, we know that our centers will ensure practice for each skill in a logical progression. It is important to align these to your phonics scope and sequence so that students are only practicing skills that have been taught. Your centers should be at an independent level for your learnings for them to be truly impactful.
Centers are a time for students to practice their skills and since we know that play is important, I love giving students the opportunity to play and practice. The best part about these center activities is that they all can work for many different skills. Students will be so familiar with the format that it’s easy enough to be independent, but since the concept being practiced changes, it’s like a new activity every time. It’s like playing your favorite game, but with an expansion pack so it feels new, exciting, and fun! Check out these super easy ways to engage your students in all their literacy skills so they can play their way to mastery!
There are SO many fun ways for students to practice recognizing their letters and letter sounds. From building letters with Playdoh and blocks, to matching sounds to their letters with fun mazes, your students will stay so focused on their learning!
Skill Based Board Games
Board games are a classic way to insert in some fun and a little bit of a competitive edge. These simple board games can be differentiated for all kinds of skills and students forget they’re even learning! This is a great way to keep kiddos engaged and get in some good skill practice.
Playing I Spy is a timeless game and we love using it as one of our literacy centers. Students will find and color words that match the skill they are working on. It’s a low prep, relaxing yet fun activity to practice all kinds of skills!
Who doesn’t like putting together puzzles? These puzzles are perfect to practice all kinds of skills, such as beginning sounds, digraphs, r controlled vowels, and more! Students will have endless fun practicing and putting together each one.
CVC Roll and Color
Here’s another low prep, high engagement activity! All you need is your game board, some dice and something to mark your findings with. Students will roll their dice and color or cover the picture that matches their roll. I love sticking these in dry erase pockets so they can play as long as they’d like.
Roll and Read
This activity is another take on the roll and cover game your students will know and love. Instead of coloring or covering what they’ve rolled, they will read the phrase that matches their number. This will help students will fluency in a fun and hands-on way!
Write the Room
Looking to add in a bit of movement during your centers? Write the Room activities are a great way to add in some motion to their skill practice. Simply give students a recording sheet and go scavenge their designated area to find their words. This activity can easily be differentiated based on skill and it’s super fun!
There are so many easy ways to incorporate some multi sensory fun when it comes to learning words! Check out some of my favorite ways below:
Building Words – This simple activity is engaging for students and can be used with many different types of manipulatives. Some of my favorites to use are: magnetic letters, Wikki Stix, Legos, letter erasers, letter beads, etc.
Word Hunt- Help solidify student’s understanding of their newly learned words by having them go on a word hunt! Pull out colored highlighters and let them search through phonics poems, or grab highlighter tape and have them search through their books to find their words. You can even play a game of I Spy around the room!
Musical Words – Here’s an educational play on musical chairs – have a game of musical words! This is a great morning meeting or end of day activity. Place the words around your rug or classroom, play music and have students dance or walk around until the music stops. When it stops, they should be in front of a word, if not they can dash to one real quick, and they’ll read it out loud or to the person next to them. Keep playing until you’re ready to stop. Such a fun way to practice those newly learned words!
These are all kinds of ways to help students master all their high frequency words, or heart words. If you want to learn more about Heart Words and their impact, read this post HERE!
No Prep Centers
No prep centers are the way to go! Depending on your center activities, it can become A LOT of printing, cutting, and laminating that maybe you don’t have time for. For this reason, I like to try and utilize center activities that are fun with minimal prep. That may mean just sticking a game board in a dry erase pouch or gathering manipulatives for a shake and spill activity. They don’t have to be a lot and they can be FUN and meaningful!
Check out the No Prep Bundle full of my favorite easy and engaging center activities!
No matter how you run your centers, there are crucial components to the management of them that will always apply. Here are five of my favorite tips for center management:
- Organization is Key
- Limit the number of students to a center
- Differentiation your centers to meet your student’s needs
- Use visuals for everything!
- Hold your students accountable
If you want a more in depth version of these tips, check out this post!
The first weeks of practice are CRUCIAL to how the whole year will run. Just remember, I WANT to be there to support you! Centers are a beautiful thing when done right and you will LOVE this time in your day. Let me help you through every step of the way. Learn all about these important steps in the Mastering Classroom Centers For Good: Turning Chaos into Calm Guide. I hope you enjoyed learning all about utilizing centers with the Science of Reading ! Don’t forget to subscribe to my email list! Not only will you get the most up to date tips, tricks, and classroom projects… and of course more fun FREEBIES including the Phonics Board Game FREEBIE! But you will also have exclusive access to tons of digital how-to videos! If you would like to learn about this and other things happening in my classroom follow me @sweetnsauerfirsties on Instagram.
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