How to Run Reading Groups Aligned with The Science of Reading

Reading groups are a critical component of the day in a primary classroom. They are the time when we offer structured opportunities for students to develop essential literacy skills. 

Conducting reading groups daily is crucial as it provides consistent, targeted practice, helping students build a solid foundation in reading. 

There has been lots of talk lately about how we are actually teaching reading and the research (otherwise known as the science of reading) that supports the ‘brain-friendly’ way to teach students how to read. (By the way, this isn’t just limited to the early years; the science of reading is relevant for teachers of all grades). 

To learn a little more about the Science of Reading, we invite you to explore our podcast and blog:

Podcast – What is the Science of Reading? with Sara Marye

Podcast – The Best Way to Teach Reding with Malia Hollowell

Blog Post – Essential Components for the Science of Reading


In short, the science of reading highlights five key elements of literacy instruction: 

  • Phonemic awareness
  • Phonics
  • Fluency
  • Vocabulary 
  • Comprehension

By incorporating these elements into our reading groups/literacy rotations, we will begin to align our teaching practice with SOR (science of reading). 

Reading groups aligned with SOR

Continue reading to learn how to effectively incorporate the five key elements into your reading group lessons.


How to Run Reading Groups Aligned with The Science of Reading

Phonemic Awareness

Why It’s Important: Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate individual sounds (phonemes) in spoken words. It is an essential foundation for reading and spelling, as it helps children understand that words are made up of groups of individual sounds.

Activity Examples:

Sound Matching Games (Grades K-1): Use picture cards or objects that start with the same sound and have students match them.

Reading groups

Phoneme Segmentation (Grades 1- 4): Give students a word and have them break it down into individual sounds, using counters or blocks to represent each sound. As they get older, students can start to do this in written form. 

Reading group activities

Rhyming Activities (Grade K-2): Use songs, poems, or rhyming games to engage students in finding rhyming words.

Reading groups


Why It’s Important: Phonics instruction teaches the relationship between letters and sounds, enabling students to decode new words. Systematic and explicit phonics instruction is essential for developing proficient reading skills.

Activity Examples:

  • Blending and Segmenting (Grades K-2): Use letter cards to form words and practice blending sounds together to read the word and segment the word back into individual sounds.


  • Word Sorts (Grade 1-3): Students sort words into categories based on common phonetic patterns, such as long and short vowels or consonant blends.

How to Run Reading Groups Aligned with The Science of Reading - Rainbow Sky Creations

  • Phonics Games (Grades 1-3): Incorporate games like Bingo or memory match that focus on letter-sound correspondence and word recognition.

Reading groups


Why It’s Important: Fluency is the ability to read text accurately, quickly, and with proper expression. Fluent readers can focus on comprehension because they do not have to concentrate on decoding each word.

Activity Examples:

  • Repeated Reading (Grade 1- 4): Have students read the same passage multiple times to build speed and accuracy. Use a timer to track progress and celebrate improvements.


  • Paired Reading (Grade 2- 4): Pair students up to take turns reading aloud to each other, providing feedback and support.Reading groups


  • Reader’s Theatre (Grade 3 – 6): Students practice and perform short scripts, enhancing fluency through repeated practice and performance.



Why It’s Important: A robust vocabulary is essential for reading comprehension and overall language development. Students need to understand the meaning of words to make sense of the text they are reading.

Activity Examples:

  • Word Maps (Grades 3 – 6): Create visual representations of new words, including definitions, synonyms, antonyms, and example sentences.

Reading groups

  • Context Clues (Grades 4 – 6): Teach students to use context clues to infer the meaning of unfamiliar words in a passage.

Reading groups

  • Vocabulary Journals (Grades 2 – 6): Encourage students to keep a journal of new words they encounter, along with their meanings and example sentences.

Reading groups


Why It’s Important: Comprehension is understanding and interpreting what has been read. It is the ultimate goal of reading instruction, as it enables students to derive meaning and gain knowledge from the text.

Activity Examples:

  • Questioning Strategies (Grades 3 – 6): Teach students to ask and answer questions about the text, focusing on who, what, when, where, why, and how.

Reading groups strategy posters

  • Summarising (Grades 4 – 6): Have students practice summarising passages or chapters, identifying main ideas and key details.


  • Graphic Organisers (Grades 2 – 6): Use tools like story maps, Venn diagrams, and cause-and-effect charts to help students organise information and ideas from the text.

How to Run Reading Groups Aligned with The Science of Reading - Rainbow Sky Creations

Incorporating these 5 Elements into Reading Groups

Design your reading group rotations to include specific activities targeting each area to ensure all five elements are covered. Remember, depending on what age group you are teaching, you may be focusing on one element more than another.  

Example activities for one week of reading group activities in Grade 2:

  1. Station 1: Phonemic Awareness – Phoneme segmentation activity
  2. Station 2: Phonics – Word sorts
  3. Station 3: Fluency – Paired reading exercise
  4. Station 4: Vocabulary – Word of the day
  5. Station 5: Comprehension – Reading with the teacher

By rotating through these stations, students receive comprehensive literacy instruction aligning with the Science of Reading principles.



Running reading groups aligned with the Science of Reading ensures students develop the skills necessary for reading proficiency. 

By focusing on phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension, you can create effective and engaging reading groups that support all learners. 


If you have trouble getting your reading groups to run like clockwork, you need our framework. Our 5-step process will transform your reading groups – the uncomplicated way!


Learn more here.


What to read next:

Setting up reading groups for success

5 ways to increase student engagement

3 things new teachers need to STOP doing 



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