What Types of Activities Will My Child Do?

*possible examples only* Activities will be tailored to meet the specific needs of students.

My tutoring style is based on the body of research known as the Science of Reading. This is a body of research that has determined the way that the brain learns to read and what activities are the most beneficial. This research also debunks many popular – yet harmful – methods that many students are currently being taught. Over the past 20+ years, this research has shown the most effective ways to teach all children – even those with learning difficulties – to read.

I use a variety of hands-on, systematic, and explicit activities that research has shown to be the most effective way for all students to learn to read. Activities will touch on all aspects of literacy development:

  • Phonological and Phonemic Awareness
  • Fluency
  • Comprehension
  • Vocabulary
  • Spelling
  • Writing Skills

I try to make authentic and engaging activities that integrate skills and build on each other. I do not rely heavily on worksheets. Below are some of the activities that your child might do during tutoring sessions.


We’ll read a variety of different types of books in order to apply the skills taught in lessons. We’ll notice rhyming words and spelling patterns, work on using expression to match the text, practice reading skills, make predictions and connections, and practice retelling the story. As a result, we’ll work on comprehension and learn new vocabulary words.


Phonemes are the smallest units of sounds in our language. Research shows that having strong phonemic awareness is essential for reading and spelling. We’ll listen carefully to words to hear each individual sound at the beginning, middle, and end of words. We’ll blend the sounds together and take them apart. We’ll practice removing sounds and adding new sounds in order to make new words.

We will then link those sounds to the letters that represent them and discover that sometimes letters work together to make just one sound and that although the word “fish” has 4 letters it only has 3 sounds! Using letter tiles, we’ll build a word and then manipulate sounds in order to create new words.


Phonemes are the smallest unit of sounds and graphemes are the letters used to represent those sounds. Learning the relationship between phonemes and graphemes helps students develop ‘orthographic mapping’ which is the process of how our brains store words in our long-term memory. We will use phoneme-grapheme mapping to both learn how to read words — especially high-frequency words (aka: sight words) — but we will also use the method to work on phonics skills and spelling instruction.


Fluency has many different components: accuracy, rate, and prosody (expression, tone, inflection). Fluent readers can read most of the words automatically, read smoothly at an appropriate pace for the particular text, and can change their voice to match the punctuation or context as needed.

Students become fluent readers through direct instruction, repeated practice, and by hearing other fluent readers read aloud.

We’ll work on fluency readings of high-frequency words, common names, short phrases, and reading passages. We’ll practice reading a variety of texts with expression and emphasis. For some students, we’ll do timed practice and track progress over time.


Build and create words with hands-on materials. Change words by removing or adding parts. Notice prefixes and suffixes. Find small words in bigger words. Sort words into categories by examing the similarities and differences to see patterns.

Students will practice decoding silly or nonsense words in order to apply phonics skills to unknown words in reading. They’ll gain confidence with the realization that knowing common spelling patterns helps us to recognize and spell many similar words!


English has only 26 letters but they can combine to make about 44 different sounds! I use a scope and sequence of phonics skills that build upon each other, teaching all of the individual letter sounds, digraphs, diphthongs, vowel teams, and other combinations in a systematic way.

Do you know the 3 sounds that the suffix -ED can make? What about the 3 sounds of CH? And what about the 5 sounds of OU. Did you know that there are 9 reasons why some words end in a silent E? And did you know that the most common vowel sound is something called a “schwa” – what?!?

We’ll learn a variety of phonics and spelling rules and discover that contrary to popular opinion, the English language is very consistent and reliable with far fewer exceptions to the rules than you might think.

A study of a particular phonics skill usually involves decoding practice (reading lists of words with that sound-spelling), encoding practice (spelling dictation), and a related activity (building words, word sort, etc.) Skills taught are reinforced with carefully chosen reading materials and are reviewed often to ensure mastery.


We’ll learn about morphemes (the smallest unit of meaning in a word) and discover how things like bases or roots and prefixes and suffixes can help us read, spell, and understand words. We’ll recognize that big words that look tricky often have smaller chunks in them that we already know.

We’ll learn flexible ways to split words into syllables to both help us to pronounce new words and help to spell them and why words are pronounced differently depending on where the syllable division is.

I carefully choose words for word study that will be useful to building student’s vocabulary. There are many high-utility words that we may see in print, but that do not occur often in oral speech. Words like: contradict, retrospect, inevitable, absurd, reluctant, morsel, quiver, etc. Exposure and practice with these types of words expand children’s background knowledge and ability to understand and use language on a deeper level.


Put your skills into practice! We might write a poem or a letter, respond to a book we read, or work on writing a story. We’ll practice writing to inform, entertain, and persuade. Writing is a great time to practice our knowledge of letter sounds and spelling patterns as we put our ideas onto paper.

Through the writing process, we’ll practice planning, drafting, revising, and editing various types of writing. We’ll work on things like effective sentence formation and word choice, writing for different purposes, and writing conventions like grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

In addition to writing skills, proper letter formation (both manuscript and cursive) will be addressed as needed for all students.


We will work on activities such as word ladders and word pyramids. These activities expose students to new vocabulary words and provide practice for manipulating phonemes as the words slowly change into new words each step up the ladder or pyramid. Crossword puzzles based on phonics patterns provide review and spelling practice for assigned sound patterns.

Occasionally, we may use Story Cubes to practice oral storytelling. This is a great way to work on creating a story that has a clear beginning, middle, and end. Students will make sure that their story makes sense and logically links together different settings, characters, problems, and solutions.


Learn through playing! Games are a great way to review and practice skills in a fun way. Educational games directly related to the skills learned in sessions will occasionally be used to review skills. Sometimes, these games may be sent home to provide extra practice.

In addition to educational games, my tutoring style allows for games purely for fun! We’ll play super quick rounds of games throughout the session in order to provide motivation, reward effort, and provide a well-deserved break in order to refocus on the next activity.

Educational games are used to reinforce skills and provide chances for review.
Quick and fun games to play throughout the session to provide motivation, reward hard work, and give a break.

HOMEWORK: “Homework” may include the reading of books, poems, and reading passages, practice with high-frequency words, practice with a spelling pattern, or review of skills taught in lessons Daily reading is key to becoming a strong, fluent, and confident reader. Please make the time to read with your child often. Home practice with the skills learned in sessions will help your child improve more quickly and is vital to their success.

*At-home recommendations may look different for each student.*


Words that appear often in text are called “high-frequency words.” Once students can recognize those high-frequency words automatically they have become “sight words.” Knowing these words by sight, rather than having to decode them each time is helpful for reading fluency.

Many people call high-frequency words “sight words” and assume that they must be memorized. This is not the case. We will examine these high-frequency words in sessions and work on phoneme-grapheme mapping of the words in order to help the brain effectively store the words. We will notice patterns in these words, apply learned phonics skills, and pay close attention to any irregular parts of the word. It is only these tricky parts of words that may need to be memorized – not the whole word.

I do not expect students to memorize high-frequency words. Instead, I ask students to have repeated practice with assigned words to gain fluency and automatically and reinforce the word study done in sessions.


Please encourage your child to read daily at home. Sit with them to help and to witness their progress! Track the words with your finger while reading aloud. Help them as needed. Take turns reading so that they can hear what fluent reading sounds like.

The rhyme and rhythm of poetry are great for developing fluent readers. Most students will receive a poetry book with new poems added on a regular basis. Read them again, and again, and….again! Fluency fully develops with repeated readings.

Poems, books, and reading passages will form your child’s home reading work but please also read books that you have at home or make a visit to the library.


My tutoring style is not worksheet-based. Traditional worksheets will be given as occasional homework activities if a student needs extra practice or by parent request. Any worksheets given will directly relate to skills practiced during tutoring sessions and will target key areas of need.


“We TEACH reading in different ways; they LEARN to read proficiently in only one way.” – David Kilpatrick