Decodable Readers in Small Groups

Decodable readers are a vital piece in supporting phonics instruction in your classroom. Using decodable readers during small groups will allow your students the opportunity to apply the specific skills they are learning. Read for tips on how to use decodable readers as part of your small group routine so students get meaningful opportunities to build fluency, decode words, and practice literacy skills. Grab a FREE complete set to get started!

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Decodable Readers for Kindergarten

This article works well with these Simply Kinder Resources:

Planning for Decodable Readers in Small Groups

The first thing you have to consider when planning for decodables in small groups is the skills your students have explicitly been taught. Choose decodable readers based on the specific phonics skill you are targeting with students.

Think about the routine you will follow with students while they are in small groups. You will want to keep this consistent and on track with the targeted skill. A sample small group structure is below:

  • Clearly state the focus of the small group – We are focusing on short /o/. Say the sound together, utilize your sound wall, and show students words that have the targeted skill.
  • Incorporate Word Work
  • Book introduction
  • Read the book as a whole group
  • Discuss the text for comprehension
  • Students re-read independently using strategies
  • Allow time for word work practice (independently or partner)

Word Work with Decodable Readers

Prepare students for their decodable reader by clearly stating the focus of the decodable. You want students to connect and apply what they have learned to their reading.

Say the targeted sound, practice the sound (utilize the sound wall), and show students examples of words with that sound (word cards, whiteboard).

Utilize word work related to the targeted sound. You want to provide practice for students to review the phonics skills needed to read the decodable.

Tip: Incorporate multi-sensory activities when completing word work.

  • Sort letter or word cards related to the sound.
  • Use magnetic letters or letter cards to build and blend words.
  • Practice word mapping and blending.
  • Blending cards
  • Rice or sand bins for students to practice encoding words

Introduction and First Read of Decodables

You will want to preview a decodable reader when reading it for the first time in a small group. Discuss the title and previous knowledge students may have related to the title and topic.

Draw attention to the targeted skill in the book by reading decodable words with that skill. You can also circle or highlight words in the decodable reader that follow the targeted skill.

Review sight words that will be encountered in the decodable (make sure these words have been previously learned or spend some time teaching decodable parts).

You will read the decodable for the first time with your students. Make sure to correct any miscues you notice while reading. Remind students of reading strategies (tap each sound, slide sounds together continuously).

Our FREE Science of Reading Smiley’s Super Reader Strategies posters and bookmarks will make great visual reminders when reading decodable readers in small groups. Grab your FREE copy inside Simply Kinder + HERE.

Discuss the meaning of each page and the book as you read the decodable with your students. Remind students that we are reading for accuracy and meaning.

Allow students to whisper read the decodable with a partner or independently. Be sure to listen in while students are reading so you can monitor students while they decode.

After Small Group Reading

Be sure to discuss the text and focus on comprehension. You can orally discuss the book or provide written options for students to record their understanding of the decodable.

Provide more opportunities for students to reread the decodable. Reading can be done independently or with a partner. Send the decodable reader home with students for extra practice.

Give students word work to practice with the phonics skill. This can be done independently or with a partner as well. Options may include word mapping, clip cards, word games, printables, or foldable little books to match the reader.


Try out a FREE complete printable & decodable set with 76 pages of activities HERE inside the Simply Kinder + Free plan!

Simply Kinder has all the decodable readers and activities to make your small groups a success. Grab your bundle HERE or as part of Simply Kinder + Printable Membership HERE for access to skill-based decodable readers, word work activities, no-prep printables, and digital options.

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