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40 Activities and Ideas to Set up Literacy Groups

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Photo of Holly (Teach Starter)
Updated | 7 min read

The literacy abilities of the children in a classroom will often vary significantly. Because of this, many teachers run weekly literacy groups or literacy centres to provide multiple opportunities for targeted practice of new and old skills. Literacy groups are a classroom routine that is often seen in early years classrooms. This routine promotes independence and collaboration, but also opens the door to more tailored hands-on activities to suit the needs of all learners in a classroom.

Group of students reading

Shutterstock.com / Rido

How to Group for Literacy Rotations

Typically, the grouping of students for literacy rotations was based on their reading level that was determined by a diagnostic tool. However, research is now telling us that grouping our students for the purposes of building up their skills required to become confident readers is a much better approach.

For example, in an early years classroom, you may be doing a lot of blending and segmenting practise. Therefore, you may group your students based on some of the following skills:

  • Phonological and phonemic awareness
  • Phonics knowledge
  • Blending and segmenting skills

Setting up Literacy Groups

In my Year 2 class, I had 6 groups and planned for 6 activities a week (3 days of 2 rotations). Each rotation lasted approximately 20 minutes with 10 minutes for transition and feedback.

When planning the activities it is important to work out how much extra help you can get during this time. I would always plan my groups around my teacher aide time and would also ask for parent volunteers. The more help you can get during this time the better it is for you and your students.

It’s also important to note, that while each station will focus on a different skill, they all follow essential, evidence-based quality instruction. Here are some examples of stations you may set up for your literacy groups:

  • Decoding
  • Fluency
  • Comprehension
  • Writing (encoding)
  • Vocabulary
  • Computers / iPads

Activity Ideas for Literacy Groups

Decoding Activities

This rotation can include many different activities depending on the skill level of your students. When decoding, young learners need to have phonological awareness, a basic understanding of phonics, and also the ability to blend and segment sounds.

Some activities you could use at this station include:

Hot tip: If they are using a hands-on activity – why not get them to take a photo of the completed task on an iPad so you can check for understanding.


Phonics Activities

I always liked to have a phonics station where the students purely focused on the weekly phoneme that was getting taught in class that week. There are so many fun phonics games and engaging activities that you could do here!

For me, this station was often a hands-on, active station. Here are some ideas:

  • Going outside with parent helper and using chalk to write the weekly graphemes.
  • Playing hopscotch with known graphemes in each square and the students need to pronounce them as they hop in the square.
  • Using playdough to create words using the graphemes.
  • Using magnetic letter tiles to create words that feature the focus grapheme.
  • Searching through a simple text for words that contain the grapheme and writing it in their books.
  • Phoneme Spotter Stories are great to have students try to find focus phonemes!
  • Get active with some Move It Active PowerPoints. In these PowerPoints students practise reading and identifying long and short vowel words such as; long and short vowel ‘u’ words, long and short vowel ‘i’ words and long and short vowel ‘e’ words.

Writing/Grammar Activities

The writing station will vary from week to week. This depended on the text type the students were learning, or the areas I felt they required extra support and practise. Sometimes it was free writing using a writing stimulus, other times it linked to the text type focus we were learning about.

Here are some writing activities that may be useful to use at this station:

  • Download our Glorious Grammar booklet with 50 activities suitable for older year levels ready to go.
  • For beginning writings, you download these Sentence Starter Strips – for them to practise writing a full sentence. Each strip has an image and a starting word to get them going!
  • Build and Write a Sentence set of worksheets is perfect to help students get started with their writing. Each worksheet contains 16 simple words. Students choose words from the table to build a sentence of their own.
  • Perfect for the early years classroom, this Making Sentences resource has students tracing over a sentence, cutting out the words, gluing the words in order, writing the sentence independently and then colouring a picture to match!
  • One for the older students, consolidate their knowledge of Direct and Indirect Speech with this Direct and Indirect Speech board game.
  • Help students master the use of the comma with these fun Comma Task Cards they can complete.
  • Consolidate students knowledge of the text type they are learning about with different activities like this Persuasive Devices Sorting Activity.

Vocabulary Activities

A student’s vocabulary plays a fundamental role in the reading and writing process.

Here are some vocabulary activity examples you could use at this station:


Comprehension Activities

Comprehension strategies are an important focus in any classroom literacy program. In my early years classroom, we focused on one strategy a week using a variety of activities. Sometimes it was reading a small passage with a parent/teacher aide and then answering questions relating to the comprehension strategy for that week.

Other times it was an activity/game/match-up task that reinforced the weekly comprehension strategy. At Teach Starter, we have a large collection of comprehension activities and texts that would be useful at this station. Our comprehension strategy packs are convenient and include a range of activities.

Activity examples:

  • You may have noticed we have a collection of Student Magazines available on the website. There is a range of year levels and each text has accompanying comprehension questions to use.
  • Have students practise their understanding of a fact and a opinion with this Is it Fact or an Opinion Worksheet.
  • This Using Context Clues Worksheet is a great one for students to practise using context clues to identify the meaning of new words when reading.
  • One for the early years, Aiming for Inference Posters. This activity has 6 mini posters showing different scenarios that can be used when encouraging students to use inference.
  • Making Predictions Task cards is appropriate for Years 3 – Year 4 and will have students practise making predictions.
  • On each of the Decodable Texts we have available there are three mini comprehension questions at the bottom of those worksheets that could be used for the younger year levels.
  • These Decodable Text to Picture Match-Up Cards are a great way for students to practise decoding and then a check to see if they have understood the sentence by matching a picture to the text.
  • These Cause and Effect Matching Card would be great to use to consolidate students knowledge of the words ’cause’ and ‘effect’.

Computers / iPad Activities

This depended on the availability of iPads. Most of the time, in my class, we already had apps ready to go, so that the students could pick their favourite app and develop the skill required.

Activity ideas:

  • Listening to an audio book on the iPad.
  • If you use SeeSaw you could set up a specific activity on their for students to complete – this could be a really targeted activity for smaller groups that need extra help with any of the above skills.
  • There are many apps available for students to use both on the computer and on the iPad.

What are your favourite activities to set up at literacy rotation stations?
Tell us in the comments below!

27 Comments

Login to comment
  • James Ryan
    ·

    Where can I find the activities/changes for years 3 to 6? none of the links seem to be working. Thanks

    • James Ryan
      ·

      Hi Trish, I was just wondering if there has been any further process with my question? I would really love to use these ideas in class.

      • Holly (Teach Starter)
        ·

        Hi James, I can see what has happened there. We have changed some of our headings so those links are no longer working. I would head to our English resources and then use the filters to filter down by year levels and resource type (depending on what sort of activities you like). Here's the line to our English resources https://www.teachstarter.com/au/learning-area/english/. Hope this is helpful.

    • James Ryan
      ·

      Thanks for the prompt reply, I have tried some links in previous reply’s regarding this question.

    • Trish (Teach Starter)
      ·

      Hi James, are you able to confirm the names of the links you were trying to open? Everything appears to be working that we've been able to find!

  • Kristy Young
    ·

    With the guided reading station, how do the kids actually read to you? One at a time? Thank you

    • Holly (Teach Starter)
      ·

      Hi Kristy, I used to get them to read in their head and then I would tap them on the shoulder and they would then start reading to me so that I could check for fluency and decoding skills.

  • J R
    ·

    Hi, I would dearly appreciate this for Foundation x

    • Holly (Teach Starter)
      ·

      Great idea! Thanks for the suggestion. In the meantime, you may find our English collection filtered to 'Foundation' a helpful place to start.

  • Susie Hansen
    ·

    Hi Holly Thanks so much for such wonderful ideas and resources for reading groups. I was just wondering though if you have any comprehension activities using the comprehension strategies of 'finding the main idea', 'recalling facts and details', 'understanding sequence', recognising cause and effect', 'making predictions', 'finding word meaning in context', 'drawing conclusions and making inferences' and 'reading pictures'. I notice you had several there but only for year 3 upwards. I teach year 2 and need to teach these strategies. Do you have anything like this for the younger years? Thanks in advance

    • Kristian
      ·

      Hi Susie, We have a lot of resources which target comprehension strategies for year 2. I would suggest searching for 'comprehension' and then selecting 'Year 2' from the drop-down menu to refine the results to better suit your needs. There are stacks of worksheets, teaching presentations, posters and so on there. If there is anything else I can assist you with, please don't hesitate to contact me.

  • Lynn Mckenzie
    ·

    Wow! Thanks so much for this Holly. Some new and exciting activities for my literacy groups here.

    • Holly (Teach Starter)
      ·

      You're most welcome Lynn. I'm happy that you have found this blog helpful.

  • Laura Costantino
    ·

    i was wondering if you can edit this some how to be an editable circle. As i only have 5 groups and other times in previous teaching i've had 4 reading groups? thanks :)

  • teresa woosnam
    ·

    Where is the charts for this like the spinning wheel, I click on the link and it keeps taking me to the home page.

    • Holly (Teach Starter)
      ·

      Hi Teresa, Apologies that the spinning wheel link was not working. We have now updated the spinning wheel link in this blog. All of the other resources should still be working. Kind regards, Holly

  • Danielle Bunter
    ·

    Such a helpful post. Has given me some great direction for rotations this year. I love that each section has suggested resources. Much appreciated!

    • Holly (Teach Starter)
      ·

      Sorry Danielle, I only just saw this comment! So glad this blog was helpful for you! I'm planning on a numeracy one soon!!! Stay tuned! Kind regards, Holly

  • Elizabeth Roberts
    ·

    Thankyou for such a terrific resource with linked activities. Getting organised for next term!!!

    • Holly (Teach Starter)
      ·

      Hi Elizabeth, Perfect timing then! So happy this can help in same way to make the lives of busy teachers slightly easier! Best of luck for next term! Kind regards, Holly

  • Naomi Wiseman
    ·

    This is brilliant. Very helpful.

    • Holly (Teach Starter)
      ·

      Thanks for your kind words Naomi! So happy that you have found this useful! Kind regards, Holly

  • Natalie West
    ·

    i too would also like to know :D

  • Anika Bezuidenhout
    ·

    Would be good to see what people do for literacy rotations from 3-6.

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