Reading Ideas That Worked

Encouraging Student Reading and Literacy

In this video we look at what the research says and also offer a great number of tips for Parents and Teachers. Play video

What the research says:

  1. Reading ability and feelings toward reading are related.
  2. Forcing children to read yields poor results.

Tips for parents to encourage reading:

  1. Be Role Models- Read often with children and on your own.
  2. Book Allowances- You can use the library or purchase new books for your children to their liking.
  3. Assure Kids That Read Has a Purpose- Reading is not a chore. We read to gain insight into things we don't understand.
  4. Read Aloud- Family reading nights are great!
  5. Create a family newsletter, web site, and/or blog- Kids love to use technology. Technology requires a great deal of reading.

Tips for teachers to encourage reading:

  1. Encourage Student Pen Pal Exchanges- Check our message board. Teachers are constantly meeting other Pen Pal classes that way.
  2. Reading Scavenger Hunt- When students read in a competitive setting, you would be surprised how fast they retain information.
  3. Read & Share- Have students share their thoughts with the class.
  4. Class Newspaper- This allow students to further explore their interests.
  5. Class Web Site- Have students manage an updated record of what is going on in your class. If anyone is absent, it really helps.
  6. Organize a Book Exchange- Week 1: Students bring in as many used books as they would like. They receive 1 credit for each book they bring in. Week 2: For every credit the students have they can take one book from the exchange.

How to Learn New Vocabulary Words Quickly

Learning new vocabulary words can be accelerated if you study using a method that caters to your learning style. Visual learners learn words best by seeing words repeatedly. Auditory learners learn words best by hearing words repetitively. Kinesthetic learners learn words best by writing words repetitively.Visual learners should: Play video

Learning new vocabulary words can be accelerated if you study using a method that caters to your learning style. Visual learners learn words best by seeing words repeatedly. Auditory learners learn words best by hearing words repetitively. Kinesthetic learners learn words best by writing words repetitively.

Visual learners should:

  1. use flashcards.
  2. Play Post-it vocabulary memory games.
  3. work with various word puzzles.
  4. draw pictures of words often.
Auditory learners should:
  1. read the words and definitions aloud.
  2. record themselves saying the words and definitions. They should then playback these recordings.
Kinesthetic learners should:
  1. look at the word and definition . Cover up the word and definition. Then, try to write the word and definition. Students should then check their work and repeat.
  2. make their own word puzzles and collaborate with visual learners.

Teaching Idea

Summer Reading Lists

Looking for a Summer Reading Lists Program? We created one for you.


Teaching Idea

"Cherry Pie"
John Kuchma, Teacher

"I have the students get in a circle. I say the word (Pie) The person I pick says the word. The next 3 people spell it. The 4th person says Cherry Pie the 5th person in line sits in their seat. If the students misspell the word they sit down. Use it for spelling."

Teaching Idea

"AR: Accelerated Reader"
Louise Haines, Floyd M. Jewett Elementary

"I also use Accelerated Reader. This is my 4th year and it gets better all the time. I schedule 60 minutes of reading per day, 50 of it independent. The students must earn 80-100% on the comprehension test of the book they read, to earn a ticket. On Friday, I roll a dice and draw that number of tickets from the TOPS jar. I teach second grade and before Christmas break I had four SUPER readers and four INDEPENDENT readers. When we reach those certification goals, students call their parents from the classroom. If they can't be reached at home, we call them at work! Parents don't mind. Matter of fact, we haven't had to make any behavior calls because we are too busy reading and making positive phone calls!"

Teaching Idea

Family Reading Night
Diedre, 2nd Grade Teacher: Springfield, Missouri

"To encourage families to read together and help children understand that reading is respected by all ages, try the following idea. Purchase 4 bookbags that are unique. Fill these bags with books of various reading levels and interests. Every day 4 children get to take these home to share with their families. It will be Family Reading Night at their home. Everyone can read a book, but the entire family has to do this together. It can be silent reading or reading a story out loud. It can take 20 minutes to accomplish. The bookbag is brought back the next day and 4 more children take them home. With 20 students in your class , each child would have a chance every week to take the bags home. You can adjust this to your class size and family situations. You may even get families to donate books that their children no longer read! You can ask a parent to check in the bookbags each morning to inventory for you and assign the next students who will get the bags that night. You don't have to do all the work."

Teaching Idea

"The Alphabet Elephant"
Angela Ross, Primary Teacher

"I use a large stuffed elephant as a motivator in an alphabet/phonics game to encourage students to share their thoughts. We call him the "Alphabet Elephant".

I pretend that the elephant whispers letters to me and tell the class that the Elephant wants to hear a word that starts with a certain letter. I choose the letter at random. I then ask for volunteers to share words with the class that start with that letter. Students that wish to share a word hold the elephant while saying the word.

This really encourages students to share their thoughts."

Teaching Idea

Warm Up Activities
Antonio Cobo Rodriguez, High School Teacher, Colombia

"I have students review vocabulary by row. Every row of students is a team and every student has a responsibility within the team or row. I say a category and have students write as many related words as they can. The team with most complete and accurate number of words wins. It is quick and fun."


Teaching Idea

Score Big for Reading
Ed, Intermediate Grade Teacher: Wichita, Kansas

"Children need to be motivated to read when they are young, so that they become independent readers as they grow. This project can be school wide or done in the classroom. Make some paper sneakers. Parents or older students can help you make these. As a child reads a book, they will fill out a form that indicates title, author and 2 or 3 sentences describing the book or their favorite part of the book and why they would recommend this book to another student. When this is completed and checked by the teacher, the student's name and the book title will be put on a sneaker and posted in the hallway or classroom. When there are 10 sneakers in a row, a basketball appears next with 20 points on it. Each sneaker is worth 2 points and the score is now 20. This is done all around the school or your room. Watch the score grow. Call this Score Big For Reading! This can be done in a variety of ways. Be creative and encourage your children to read."

Teaching Idea

Creative Book Jackets
Jack, 6th Grade Teacher: Billings, Montana

"It is difficult to get students to complete book reports, yet as teachers we want to encourage reading. As a diversion from the usual reports that are made, have your students design a book jacket or cover of the book that they perceive as describing the book. They can give the book another title also. They can be as creative as they want to but they will also be accountable to defend what they have created. What does the book jacket or book cover tell about the book? What reason does a student have for changing the title? In defending their creative addition to this book, you will find out if the student did read the book. This can be presented in front of the class and the students can ask the student about their additions or changes to the book. The student who read the book will have to defend the changes. This can be fun and very creative!!"

Teaching Idea

Model Reading
Dominic, 4th Grade Teacher: Portland, Oregon

"You, as the teacher, should model how to read for your students. Every day your students should hear fluency in reading, correct pronunciation of words, expressive reading, exposure to correct grammar and meaningful sentences. This is done by listening to a good reader - YOU! Listening comprehension is an essential to learning how to read. You are the role model. If you think it is important to read, your students will also think it is important. Set aside 15 or 20 minutes a day just for listening. After reading a story, go back and reread it and ask questions about the book. Use Bloom�s Taxonomy to bring your students to higher levels of thinking. Prepare questions ahead of time. Be prepared. Have great expectations for your students and they will rise to meet these expectations."

Teaching Idea

Reading Buddies
Debbie, Primary Grade Teacher: Baton Rouge, Louisiana

"For younger children who are just learning to read or readers who are experiencing difficulty, ask a class of older students to buddy with your class. Work with the teacher to pair students who will work together in a productive manner. You both know your students and their needs. It is important that students be comfortable with each other. Before getting to the reading, let each older student interview their �buddy� to get acquainted. The older students could work on preparing a questionnaire in class. Then sit with their buddy and ask some questions about favorite things to do, hobbies, reading interests, etc. Share time together, have a snack and the process has begun. Teachers could find a common time for students to read together once a week. This helps younger students to feel comfortable with the older students, will increase reading interest, and help younger students grow in self-esteem. Older students can learn responsibility as they work with their buddies. As the older students get to know their buddies, they can choose books that are of interest to their new friends. There will be much benefit gained for the older and younger students."

Teaching Idea

"Olympic Word Race"
Olivia Jenkins, Reading Teacher: Tulsa, OK

"Divide your class into 4 teams. Each team should line up in a row. Make four sections on the chalkboard by drawing 3 vertical lines from the top to the bottom. One person from each team will compete to properly spell words that you call out. The person that finishes first and spells the word correctly will get a point for his or her team. The first person from each team will go to the board and then, you call out a word having to do with the Olympics. They then go to the end of the line and you continue with the next set of people."

Teaching Idea

Reading Friends
Betty Klein, 1st Grade Teacher

"In my classroom I have a wide array of stuffed animals that I've collected throughout the years. When it is time to read silently and independently, students select a stuffed animal friend and curl up with it as they practice reading. Students seem satisfied and enjoy this task."

Teaching Idea

Reading Garden K-8
Lynda O'Brien, Educator/Administrator

"Have students write reading summaries on a round or cone coffee filter. Include Story/Book title and author. On a poster board, have the students glue just the centers of the round coffee filters, arranged as they wish. These are the flowers. Students can then use assorted art supplies to make stems, leaves, backgrounds, etc. Display each as a composite garden or as individual gardens that adorn you class room. Thus your Reading Garden."

Teaching Idea

"Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry"
Danielle Keller, After School Supervisor

"I had an After School class that was crazy about Harry Potter. I first wrote a letter to the students as "Professor McGonagall" telling them all that they were accepted at Hogwarts and that they would be divided into the four houses from the books, Gryffindor, Slytherin, Huffelpuff, and Ravenclaw and that each house would accumulate points (or lose them) based on their performance in my classroom. Good behaviors earned points for the house, bad behaviors lost points. Certain games and activities in my room were also worth bonus points. It helped my student learn to work as a team and it really curtailed bad behavior. At the end of the year, I threw an "end of the year feast" with pizza and sweets, with the winning house receiving certificates stating that they had won the "House Cup" as denoted in the books,and that team also won a small prize. It worked well as a classroom theme for me. We played a modified version of Quidditch in gym, and the students were encouraged to write to their favorite Hogwart's Professors via an envelope that I had labeled "Outgoing Mail to Hogwart's". I would then write back to the students in the character of their chosen professor. It was a blast for the kids, as well as for me."

Teaching Idea

"Reading Across New York"
Jackie Seiars, NYC Teacher

"I created a great interdisciplinary incentive system that reinforces reading for my students. One of the main topics of my Social Studies curriculum is New York State geography and landmarks. I have a detailed map of New York State in my room with a colored thumbtack for every student.

Every week, the thumbtacks take a trip to location or landmark within New York State. A student's thumbtack is advanced a set distance for every page they read during reading time. This has really motivated students. Along the way to the final destination, the students will have several stops. These include major towns/cities or landmarks. When a student reaches this location, they receive a simple reward. The rewards range from extra free time to a snack. When they reach their final destination we provide them with larger rewards.

Students really seem to enjoy this system and they're learning a lot more about their State. This system is simple and can be adapted to any state, province, and/or country."

Teaching Idea

"Word Game"
Linda Herrmann, Recreation Worker

"Select a word. Ask for words that can be made from the selected word, using the letters only as often as they are in the word, no capital letters, and at least three letters to the word. The spelling and meaning of each word shown should also be a requirement. Example: sacrifices---rice-a food, face-front of head, ice-frozen water, etc."

Teaching Idea

"Thanking My ABCs"
Thomas Siekes, Reading Teacher

"I usually have the students sit on the floor in either a circle or a horseshoe. I then have children say "Thanks for".. something that begins with an "A" and continue around the circle, until they get to "Z". If in a horseshoe, when it reaches an end, they must repeat what the last person said and then say their own. I found that the children love this and it is a spin on Geographic ABCs."

Teaching Idea

"Tactile Sight Words"
Tanya Rivers, Elementary Teacher

"My team found a great activity to help students learn sight words:

  1. We write the words on sets of large flash cards. Always make sure to laminate the cards, this way you do not have reinvent the wheel every year.
  2. Give students hand clay. Ask the students to roll the clay so that it looks like a long pencil. The thinner the clay is rolled, the easier it is for them.
  3. Have the students trace the words on laminated cards with the clay.
I find that this activity greatly benefits many of my students."