18 Fantastic Reading Fluency Activities To Build Literacy in Young Readers

Fluency brings the words to life!

Reading Fluency WeAreTeachers

Learning to read starts kids on a lifelong learning journey, but literacy is more than just understanding the words on a page. Reading fluency  involves comprehension, speed, accuracy, and prosody (reading with expression). There are many ways to help kids develop reading fluency, both in and out of the classroom. Here are some of our favorites.

1. Start with a reading fluency anchor chart

Reading Fluency Teaching With a Mountain View

Introduce the basics of reading fluency with an anchor chart you can hang in the classroom. It’s a good reference for kids throughout the year. Here are 17 more fluency charts to try.

Learn more: Teaching With a Mountain View

2. Model fluency with read-alouds

Reading aloud to kids is important for so many reasons, but one of the best is that it teaches kids what fluency sounds like. Adults can model expression, phrasing, pace, and so much more when they read to kids. Try some of our favorite read alouds, or use the free website Storyline Online as part of your reading center activities.

3. Hang reading fluency posters

Reading Fluency WeAreTeachers

Post these in your classroom reading center to remind kids what reading fluency really means. They’re simple but effective. Get your free set here.

4. Try sentence trees

Sentence trees are terrific for building fluency in younger readers. They allow kids to focus on each word, improving accuracy and speed along the way. 

Learn more: Fun in First

5. Put together poems and nursery rhymes

Reading Fluency Mrs Winters Bliss

Kids often memorize nursery rhymes long before they learn to read. By breaking those rhymes apart into individual words and putting them back together again, kids see how words build into sentences and stories in a natural flow.

Learn more: Mrs. Winter’s Bliss

6. Use line tracking and word pointers

For some kids, focus is a challenge. Their eyes wander around the page, and they have trouble developing the speed needed for fluency. Use another piece of paper to help them focus on the line they’re reading, or try pointing to the words one by one.

Learn more: Katelyn’s Learning Studio

7. Read and reread … and reread

Fluency involves lots and lots of reading and rereading. When kids read a passage over and over again, they build up their speed and accuracy automatically. One fun way to work on expression is to try rereading with different voices. 

Learn more: Teach123

8. Add a timer to rereading

Combine repeated reading with a timer. Students read a passage for one minute, working to increase the number of words they read correctly each time. This is a nice tool for working on speed and accuracy.

Learn more: 1st Grade Pandamania

9. Track student progress

While you don’t want to overemphasize numbers, tracking a student’s fluency is helpful to both you and them. Parents can help with this one at home, too.

Learn more: Katelyn’s Learning Studio

10. Work on those sight words

Reading Fluency Sight Words

One of reasons elementary readers focus so much on sight words is that they help to build reading fluency. Find a roundup of all our favorite sight word activities here.

11. Look to punctuation for expression cues

Reading Fluency

Punctuation makes passages easier to read, but it also gives a reader cues on proper expression. Help your kids recognize what each punctuation mark sounds like when reading fluently.

Learn more: The Owl Teacher

12. Answer the fluency phone

These are such a fun tool for helping kids really hear themselves read! They’re great for busy classrooms and reading centers. Kids talk softly into the phone, and the sound is amplified in their ear. You can buy fluency phones, or make them yourself from PVC pipe.

Learn more: Mrs. Winter’s Bliss

13. Read with partners

Reading Fluency

Whether kids are reading together or you pair an adult helper with a student, taking turns reading is a terrific way to get more fluent. When one reader is stronger, have them read the passage first and have the other reader echo it back.

Learn more: The Measured Mom

14. Get a reading buddy

Reading Fluency Stories by Storie

Shy kids will especially appreciate the chance to practice reading out loud to a stuffed animal pal. Encourage them to read as if their fuzzy friend can hear everything they’re saying.

Learn more: Stories by Storie

15. Give kids a reading fluency rubric

Use this free printable rubric when evaluating students’ reading fluency, or send it home for parents. Kids can even use it to self-evaluate!

Learn more: Teacher Thrive

16. Use a fluency bookmark

Reading Fluency Upper Elementary Snapshots

A handy bookmark keeps fluency strategies front and center when kids read. We love this idea for kids who are ready for chapter books.

Learn more: Upper Elementary Snapshots

17. Introduce the concept of scooping phrases

Pointing to words is good for building speed and accuracy, but scooping phrases takes things to the next level. This practice is a great help for developing expression and comprehension.

Learn more: This Reading Mama

18. Hold a school-wide fluency challenge

Make literacy and reading fluency something the whole school focuses on. Have PE teachers post sight words for kids to read out when they run past. Invite cafeteria workers to join you for storytime. Track fluency and celebrate milestones with individual and whole school rewards! Learn more about holding a school-wide fluency challenge here.

Need more reading fluency help? Try these 27 Awesome Free or Low-Cost Websites for Practicing Reading.

Plus, 25 Incredible Reading Apps for Kids.

18 Fantastic Reading Fluency Activities To Build Literacy in Young Readers

Posted by Jill Staake

Jill Staake is a writer living in Tampa, Florida. She's spent most of her life teaching in traditional classrooms and beyond, from 8th grade English to butterfly encounters, and believes learning is a life-long process.

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