40 Activities and Ideas to Set up Literacy Groups in 2020

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Written by Holly (Teach Starter)

We all know that the ability levels of the students in our classrooms vary greatly! When teaching literacy, in order to differentiate the learning of their students, most teachers will plan and develop weekly literacy groups to meet the needs of each ability level, using a variety of literacy skills and activities. This blog article provides hints and tips on how to set up literacy rotations in your classroom and provides you with a range of activities that are useful to use at each literacy station.

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Group of students reading

Shutterstock.com / Rido


Setting up Literacy Groups

Firstly, place your students into ability groups. This can be very difficult, especially at the beginning of the year when you are relying on assessment guidelines from the previous year. To help group my students, I used a variety of assessment pieces including reading levels, comprehension assessments, basic phonemic awareness and writing samples.

Once I had the groups, I developed a display board which clearly showed the groups and the activities using a group activity spinning wheel. This display enabled students to identify which group they were in and the activities their group were completing each day. On the grouping posters, I used blue tack when sticking the names on each poster to make it easier to swap kids around if needed.

The spinning wheel uses a piece of card on a split pin making it easy to spin around to display each group and their literacy stations for the day.

Setting up Literacy Groups in the Classroom

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.

The activities varied from week to week, however, I had 6 main activity centers:

  1. Writing Station
  2. Sentences (parent help was used here if available)
  3. Reading with the Teacher (guided reading)
  4. Comprehension Skills (teacher aide if available)
  5. Spelling
  6. Computers / iPad Station

Writing Station Activities

The writing station varied 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.

Writing Stimulus Wheels

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


Sentence Structure Activities

At the sentences station, we would spend time focusing on sentence structure and grammar. These activities changed depending on the ability of the group.

This is Dressing Up a Sentence Activity is a simple idea that could be used to encourage students to add more detail to their sentences.

Sentence activity for the classroom

Here are some great sentence structure activities that may be helpful to you for this station:


Guided Reading Activities

This was the station that I was always positioned at. At this station, I was able to sit and listen to every student read to me at least once a week. I would use an instructional text (a challenging level reader) which enabled the students to apply known and newly taught reading strategies.

Whilst listening to each student read I would make a record of the strategies they were applying and which strategies needed to be taught. This Guided Reading Strategies checklist can be used to keep a record of each student.

Guided Reading templates for the teacher

Here are some other reading teaching resources that may assist at this station:

For more information about guided reading, you may like to check out these blog posts:

You may also be interested in checking out our Guided Reading Folder Resource Pack.

Guided Reading folder templates


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.

120 Comprehension task cards for the teacher

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.

Here are some other comprehension activities:

If you’d like some more ideas and information about teaching comprehension, or if your school uses the Super Six Comprehension Strategies, you may like to read our blog post, What are the Super Six Comprehension Strategies?


Spelling Activities

For this station, the focus would be the weekly phoneme the students were learning about in class. There are so many fun phonics games and engaging activities that you could do here!

If you have a parent helper for this group they could go outside and use chalk to write on cement/play hopscotch/paint with water etc.

Digraph activity for the classroom

Otherwise, here are some other phonics games and activities that you could use:

For more tips and ideas to help you teach spelling, you may like to check out the following blog posts:


Computers / iPad Station

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.

In the early years, an app reinforcing sight words would be useful at this station. Reading Eggs was also another app/computer game the students loved to play.

This blog post also has some great free apps that are worth trying, 40 Free iPad Apps for Teaching Spelling.


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

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Comments & feedback

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

Kristy Young · 24 hours ago

Hi, I would dearly appreciate this for Foundation x

J R · Feb 17th, 2020

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

Holly (Teach Starter) · Feb 18th, 2020

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

Susie Hansen · Jan 17th, 2019

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.

Kristian · Jan 17th, 2019

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

Lynn Mckenzie · Feb 17th, 2018

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

Holly (Teach Starter) · Feb 19th, 2018

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 🙂

Laura Costantino · Dec 22nd, 2017

Hi Laura,

If you head to the link – https://www.teachstarter.com/teaching-resource/group-activity-wheels-8-colour-group-options/. Then scroll to the middle you will see options for selecting 3-8 grouping options.

I hope this is helpful!

Kind regards,
Holly

Holly (Teach Starter) · Dec 27th, 2017

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

teresa woosnam · Aug 4th, 2017

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

Holly (Teach Starter) · Aug 5th, 2017

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

Danielle Bunter · Jan 10th, 2017

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

Holly (Teach Starter) · Feb 9th, 2017

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

Elizabeth Roberts · Sep 11th, 2016

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

Holly (Teach Starter) · Sep 12th, 2016

This is brilliant. Very helpful.

Naomi Wiseman · Sep 10th, 2016

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

Holly (Teach Starter) · Sep 12th, 2016

i too would also like to know 😀

Natalie West · Sep 9th, 2016

Hi Natalie,

In our literacy category you can sort by grade/year level! We have a huge range of resources that you can use for older children in literacy rotations. Check out the link below:
https://www.teachstarter.com/learning-area/literacy/?query=&premium=on&free=on&grade-3=on&grade-4=on&grade-5=on&grade-6=on&grade-7=on&formats=&sort=date

Kind regards,
Holly

Holly (Teach Starter) · Sep 12th, 2016

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

Anika Bezuidenhout · Sep 9th, 2016

Hi Anika,

We have a huge range of resources in our literacy category that may help out for older children. Check out the link below:

https://www.teachstarter.com/learning-area/literacy/?query=&premium=on&free=on&grade-3=on&grade-4=on&grade-5=on&grade-6=on&grade-7=on&formats=&sort=date

Let me know if you have any further questions. As always we are happy to help out and save teachers time!

Kind regards,
Holly

Holly (Teach Starter) · Sep 12th, 2016

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