Manual Reading Activities for Primary Grades: Phonemes, Word Attack, and Comprehension Skills

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Reading & Writing Interventions
  1. Categories
  2. Phonics – References
  3. Phonics and Decoding

All words are morphemes. Some words like compound words have more than one morpheme. Bound morphemes e. Unbound morphemes have lexical meaning and can stand alone. All meaningful, single-syllable words are unbound morphemes, e. Morphology is the study of how morphemes form words. Grammatical morphemes are function words, e. Therefore, pupils with dyslexia may have difficulties in vocabulary, word categorisation and word retrieval.

Continuous prose reading is a far more complex task than is often appreciated. In monitoring continuous reading, we expect the pupil to read with fluency, with reasonable speed, with accuracy and with full comprehension. However, all four of these aspects of continuous reading are interdependent and a problem with any one can negatively affect the act of continuous reading. Reading accuracy will increase with word identification skills and practice in reading in context.

Most pupils with dyslexia will require specific help in developing ability in fluency and comprehension. Reading speed will increase with the improvement of reading accuracy, speed and comprehension. Developmental reading activities such as Paired and Shared Reading provide opportunities for the pupil to practice reading skills in context and to develop accuracy and fluency on materials that are at an appropriate level of difficulty. Repeated reading methods are based on the information processing model which suggests that fluent readers are those who decode text automatically, leaving attention free for comprehension.

Pupils should practice reading text that can be read accurately i. Material should be carefully selected so that reading text that is too difficult does not frustrate the pupil.

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  • Chapter 2. Phonics and Decoding.

Reading comprehension can be difficult for the pupil with dyslexia because of the continuing demands of orthographic decoding in combination with limited working memory capacity. They should also be encouraged to think about what they already know. Finally, they can be applied to reading. Teachers can help by showing how they monitor their ongoing comprehension when they read.


Pupils with dyslexia may have difficulty with the metacognitive aspects of learning. This implies that they need to be shown how to learn, for example through identifying connections and relationships between different learning tasks. This essentially means the emphasis should not only be on the content or the product of learning but also on the process - that is, how learning takes place.

Therefore learning styles need to be considered alongside the need to develop metacognitive awareness. The recent interest and research into learning styles is based on three concepts: 1 individuals prefer to learn in different ways and under different circumstances, 2 these preferences can be identified and 3 the manner of instruction affects student learning. Three areas of behaviour have been suggested as being involved in learning style - cognitive, affective and physiological.

Cognitive behaviours include modality preference, attention, automatisation, memory processes and concept development. Affective behaviours include personality variables such as persistence and perseverance, frustration and tolerance, curiosity, locus of control, achievement motivation, risk taking, cautiousness, competition, co-operation, reaction to reinforcement and personal interests. Physiological behaviours include sex-related behaviour, health-related behaviour, time of day rhythms, need for mobility and environmental elements.

Teachers can often identify learning style preference by careful observation of choices individuals make and behaviours they exhibit.

Phonics – References

Display a card with a high-frequency word on it. Provide students with a magnetic board and plastic magnetic letters to use as manipulatives. Help students get a better feel for spelling patterns and syllable combinations by asking students to make given words on the magnetic board with the letters. Students can even make sentences on the magnetic board if enough letters are available. Give students a set of words that have many rhyming word matches.

Then give the students a set of words to categorize under each rhyme set. A game that can be played with this word bank is to give a sentence with a missing word. The children look at the word bank words and select the missing word to write on their paper or on an overhead transparency. Write sight words two of each word on a deck of three-by-five-inch cards and deal 5 or 6 cards to each player. Students have to ask for the mate to their card by describing it phonetically. Give students a stack of word cards with high-frequency words written on them. This helps students recognize patterns and categorize the sounds they hear in words.

Show children a rhyming couplet and then let them work in small groups to write additional couplets to go with the original rhyme provided. Ask students to be creative in adding stanzas that help make the rhyme a funny poem at the end. For example, the word given might be fat. Students are encouraged to build as long a word ladder as possible in a given amount of time.

Give students a list of three or four words that are in the group and another list of words that are out of the group based on a common feature. The word is added to the proper column and play continues with a new word. A bit of competition can be added between teacher and student by only allowing students to make a specific number of guesses.

If the correct answer is determined prior to the guess limit, the students win the game. If no answer is given by the end of the clues, the teacher wins.

Phonics and Decoding

The students will enjoy challenging you in this manner. Students can also teach this game to their families to play at home.

This game promotes analysis and causes students to deeply examine common features of words. Patterns are also helpful ways of learning to decode words. Two patterns that should be introduced to students are: Onset: the initial part of the word that precedes the vowel. Rime: the vowel and the letters that follow in a word. When students learn the rime patterns, it can help unlock the pronunciation of many more words that contain the same rime pattern.

It is also helpful to have students in 2nd and 3rd grades examine syllabification rules. These rules, while not necessarily helpful for reading, will assist the students in their writing. Some rules that students might find helpful are: When a syllable ends in a vowel, the vowel is long, as in ivy. When a syllable ends in a consonant, the vowel is short, as in apple. Divide a word between two like consonants, as in lit-tle. Divide a word between two unlike consonants, as in sen-tence.

When a consonant comes between two vowels, divide after the first vowel, as in mu-sic. Prefixes, suffixes, and inflectional endings are always syllables. Students also need to study words and how words fit together. Some specific patterns that should be taught include compound words, contractions, plurals, prefixes, affixes, root words, suffixes, homophones, homographs, and alliteration patterns in words that start with the same sounds. There are many activities that can help students look at words and the manipulation of words, including the following ideas.

Assist students in creating several sentences that are written on the board or placed on sentence strips and displayed in a pocket chart. Make a second set of the same sentences and cut these into individual words. For primary students, punch holes in the top of the card and put a string through the holes so each child can wear a word. Visitor clip-on badges also work well for older students. Ask students to find other students in the room who have words that fit into their sentence.

When they have located all of the pieces of their sentence and matched their words to the original sentence, the students should indicate that they are ready for an adult to check their work.


This is a fun way for students to notice word order as well as the characteristics of a sentence. A more advanced version of this activity would place the punctuation for the sentence on cards as well and ask students to find the punctuation that applies to their sentence and add the person to their sentence group.

Students should be encouraged to find words inside of words to make them more aware of how letter groups work together to make one sound. Teach children in 3rd grade and higher to recognize prefixes and suffixes to help unlock word meanings. Have students find lists of words that contain the targeted prefix and show how the prefix helps to make the meaning of the base word change.

Show students how adding or removing prefixes can help unlock the meaning of many words they come across in their reading. Write sight words on flash cards. This strategy helps develop fluency as well as sight-word recognition because speed is involved. Be sure readers are fairly evenly matched, however, so the competitive aspect of the game does not become the focal point of the activity.