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 in schools. 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 and some of the resources that I use to plan lessons.


We’ll read a variety of different types of books, poems, and targeted reading passages 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.

Can you stretch out all of the sounds in the word “rainbow” to hear all 5 sounds? What graphemes (letters) might we use to spell that? Can you listen super carefully to the word “fox” to hear all 4 – yes 4!! – sounds? Can you say the word “shake” but then say it again without the /sh/ sound? Can you say the word “centre” and then change the /t/ sound to a /d/ sound to make the new word “sender?”

We’ll link those sounds to the graphemes (letters) that represent them and build words and then manipulate sounds in order to create new words. Can you build the word “sunk?” Now, changing just one sound, can you change the word to “sink?”


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>? How do I know which of the over 9 possible graphemes for a long <e> sound to use when I want to spell /ee/? 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 “schwa” — what?!?

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.


Learning the relationship between phonemes (sounds) and graphemes (letters) 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, but we will also use the method to work on phonics skills and spelling instruction.

Do I use <ch> or <tch> to spell the /ch/ sound? If I hear a /k/ sound how do I know if I need to use <c>, <k>, or <ck> or <ke>? Should I use <ge> or <dge> for the /j/ sound? When do I need to double consonants in a word? When do I need to drop a silent <e> or change a <y> to an <i>???

We’ll learn a variety of phonics and spelling rules to help build confident spellers and discover that contrary to popular opinion, the English language is very consistent and reliable. There are logical generalizations and rules that explain about 90% of our words and there are far fewer “exceptions” than you would think. Once you add morphology and etymology into the mix there is a logical reason for the spelling of most words! 😉


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, attend to punctuation, and can change their voice to match the 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.


I do not teach all the laborious rules of syllable division as it adds too much strain on working memory and there are too many cases where words do not follow the traditional syllable ‘rules’. Instead, I teach flexible syllable division in order to split words into syllables and read unfamiliar words. Being able to split words into syllables both help us to pronounce new words and helps us to understand why words are pronounced differently depending on where the syllable division is.

Along with strategies to read multisyllabic words, students will also learn how to tackle spelling multisyllabic words using both their knowledge of phonics and morphology.


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.

Recently, I have been learning about Structured Word Inquiry which has had a profound effect on my students so far! This is a deeper study of how words are built and their etymology and explains so many spelling demons that students have trouble with. We’ll build Word Matrixes to learn suffixing conventions (ie: when to drop an <e> when adding a suffix), and discover why the pronunciation of words can change when suffixes are added but the spelling always stays consistent!


Vocabulary and comprehension work is ongoing and infused into every lesson, both organically and through explicit instruction.

For vocabulary, I carefully choose words for word study that will be useful for building students’ 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, ability to understand and use language on a deeper level, and helps their comprehension of advanced texts.

Comprehension is, essentially, the main goal of reading. Students need to know how to relate to text on a deeper level than just answering a few surface questions. We’ll learn different ways to connect to text, use our schemas and make inferences, question what we read, and determine its importance.


Writing and reading have a reciprocal relationship: each helps improve the quality of the other. I break the writing process down into manageable chunks, starting with effective sentence construction, as students build upon skills and gain practice with a variety of writing pieces. We’ll practice writing to inform, entertain, and persuade.

Both organically through the writing process, and with explicit instruction, we’ll work on conventions like grammar and punctuation.

Did you know that research shows that learning to properly form letters by hand contributes to both reading and spelling skills and improves both the quality and quantity of student writing? Proper letter formation (both manuscript and cursive) along with handwriting automaticity and fluency 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.

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.”

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 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 witness their progress! Track the words with your finger while reading aloud. Encourage them to keep their eyes on the letters and not look at the pictures to guess. Help them as needed. Take turns reading so that they can hear what fluent reading sounds like.

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. These poems, along with books and carefully selected reading passages will form your child’s home reading work.


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.


“Teaching reading IS rocket science.” – Dr. Louisa Moats

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

“Explicit teaching of alphabetic decoding skills is helpful for all children, harmful for none, and crucial for some.” – C. Snow and C. Juel