Must-Try Reading Activities for First Grade

Pair these strategic exercises with your daily read-aloud and have fun sharpening skills.

By Scholastic Parents Staff
Jun 03, 2022



Must-Try Reading Activities for First Grade

Jun 03, 2022

The period between kindergarten and second grade is when your child sets the foundation for their lifelong love of learning and reading. You can supplement what your child learns in the classroom by reading aloud to them daily and making time for activities that reinforce key literacy skills.

Reading activities combine the joy of reading with strategies for improving reading skills, like phonics and comprehension. Here are four reading activities to engage your child and incorporate into your daily read-aloud for a fun-filled session. 

1. Search for Sight Words

Sight words, such as “do,” “said,” and “with,” are the building blocks of early reading. They’re some of the most common words your child will encounter, but they don’t follow typical phonics rules, so they aren’t as straightforward to teach; children must recognize them “on sight.” 

Practice and repetition are the best ways kids can learn to recognize these words. (Check out these resources for helping kids learn sight words.) Provide your child with a list of sight words and a passage from their favorite book. Then, ask them to find all the sight words they can in the passage. Make it a decoding activity by providing them with the list of sight words and instructing them to point to a word when you say it. 

2. Practice Letter Writing and Decoding

Phonics, or the pairing of sounds with written letters and words, is a pivotal skill for beginner readers. Practice identifying letters and sounding out words that contain them as often as you can. Understanding the units of sound that make up words, and being able to identify those words on the page by their pronunciation, is key to developing a strong phonics background. 

Here’s a great activity for keeping skills fresh in summer, when children are outdoors: Ask your child to draw out letters as you say them, maybe in the dirt or a sandbox. You can also ask them to find an object in their environment that begins with that letter and bring it to you. 

If your child is a few years into elementary school, carry on with the sandbox-writing activity by working together to spell out words that begin with that letter. 

3. Start a Conversation About the Text

Looking ahead to the critical-thinking skills your child will need from about 4th grade onwards, now is a good time to begin checking for reading comprehension — that is, how well did they understand the story. What do they remember of it? Can they correctly recount a sequence of events? 

As you’re reading, ask your child what they’re thinking about each character and what they think will happen next. Talking about the text is a surefire method for improving reading comprehension.

Play a verbal game of true or false to confirm your child understood important events in the text. Recount an event, sequence of events, or fact about a character, and ask your child to say whether the statement is “true” or “false.”

When you’ve finished a book, ask your child to create a story map of what occurred by drawing out images to represent the beginning, middle, and end of the story.

4. Write — or Perform — a Book Review

Encourage your child to review what they’ve read in a way they’re comfortable with. They can talk through what they liked and disliked about the book, or rewrite the ending they were hoping for (if that’s the case). Support and motivate your child by showing enthusiasm for their ideas and opinions — it will boost their confidence

If your child enjoys being in front of the camera, you can even help them create a video “book talk” about a favorite book. Just switch on the camera and ask them to say the title and author and to describe the story. Then, ask them to explain what they did and didn’t like about the book. If they freeze or get shy, ask a question like, “What was your favorite part?” or “What would the characters do if the story kept going?” Grandparents especially will treasure this video keepsake.

Encourage a love of reading with help from our guide, which includes book recommendations by interest, tips for getting your child to read for fun, and much more.

Shop books and activities to boost reading skills for children ages 6-7 below. You can find more books and activities at The Scholastic Store.

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