Mechanics – Basic Reading Skills


Decoding or sounding out words is the first step in reading. Children can decode when they understand that each letter of the alphabet has a corresponding sound. Children then learn how to look at words in print, isolate each separate sound, then blend them to read the word as a whole. The goal of phonics instruction is to enable readers to become proficient at decoding so they are able to read words on their own and with little effort.


Fluency is the ability to read accurately with expression and at a speed that lends itself to comprehension. Fluent readers will be able to read smoothly without having to take a lot of time to sound out words. They are also able to use context clues to figure out unknown words. Fluency is most evident when a person reads aloud, but it can also be seen by the reader’s ability to understand what they read. Fluent readers are able to pay attention to the details in a book because they don’t have to spend a lot of time sounding out words.



Good readers increase their vocabulary every time they read and are able to recall these words when they see them again. They begin by developing a sight word vocabulary. Sight words are words that are frequently found often in common speech and books, such as “the,” “is,” “were,” “was” and “said.” Generally, these words cannot be sounded out, so readers have to memorize them. Knowledge of these words is essential because they can be found in any book.


Comprehension is a basic reading skill that develops as children learn to sound out words and recognize sight words. The more they read, the easier it is for them to remember specific things like the main characters, setting and plot. As reading skills progress, children will develop advanced comprehension skills like inferring, evaluating and retelling.

Shared Reading Activities for Kindergarten

Shared reading is a group activity. Children learn to predict and make meaning out of what is not directly expressed. Through a sense of community, children develop a pleasure for reading while acquiring skills such as building vocabulary, learning story elements, and tracking reading left to right and word to word. Shared reading activities like dramatic play, echo and choral reading, narrative story-boarding and word games engage children in reading literacy.

Dramatic Play

Acting out stories helps children relate to the characters and choices they make. Retelling the story through dramatic play improves reading comprehension by helping children remember what happened. Children learn narrative structure through the characters and themes as the story unfolds, enriching play with literacy. For example, in Aesop’s Fable “The Lion and the Mouse,” as children act out the story, they learn bravery, mutual kindness and that size doesn’t always equal effectiveness.

Choral Reading

During choral reading, children read aloud together with the teacher. Children are given a copy of the story and follow along with a marker or finger. Choral reading models fluent reading and gives less skilled children an opportunity to practice before reading on their own. Choose material that engages students’ imagination, such as Aesop’s Fable “The Tortoise and the Hare” and encourage them to read each line with the proper expression and emotion.


Echo Reading

In echo reading, children imitate the teacher’s skilled reading. The teacher reads the words aloud while tracking them in the children’s view. This strategy allows children to learn sight words, begin reading more advanced text, and gain confidence. Through echoing, students learn expressive, fluent reading. Read from a variety of genres, such as poetry, folk tales and fairy tales, to spark their interests. For example, read Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem, “Bed in Summer,” one line at a time and have the students read each line back to you.

Narrative Storyboard

A storyboard is a graphic organizer with pictures of the story unfolding in sequence. Students visualize the series of events as the story is read. For example, read “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” and have students arrange the pictures on the storyboard to display the events as the story is read. Story-boarding conveys a story’s theme through visualization, which can remove barriers when English is not the primary language.

Word Games

Teaching children to recognize high frequency and sight words allows them to focus on understanding their reading, rather than decoding unfamiliar words. Primary Concepts suggests playing games such as Word Bingo. The teacher calls out a word. Using a Word Bingo board, if a player has the word a counter is placed on it. The first player to get five words marked in a row or column  wins. High frequency and sight words can also be learned through music and word walls. 

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