Activities to Practice Decoding Skills for Reading

Improving Reading Fluency in Student With Dyslexia

Teacher educating a group of elementary children

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Decoding skills help a child learn to read and develop fluency in reading. Some of the major decoding skills include recognizing sounds and sound blends, deciphering the meaning of a word through recognition or context and understanding the role of each word within a sentence. The following activities help a student build decoding skills.

Recognizing Sounds and Sound Blends

Give the Clown a Balloon

This exercise helps teach and reinforce that letters can sound different depending on the letters around them, for example, the "a" in "hat" sounds different than the "a" in "cake" because of the silent "e" at the end of the word. Use pictures of clowns; each clown represents a different sound for the same letter, for example, the letter a sounds differently in many different words. One clown can represent a long "a," one can represent short "a." Children are given balloons with words containing the letter "a" and must decide which clown gets the balloon.

Sound of the Week

Use letters or letter blends and make one sound the sound of the week. Have students practice recognizing this sound in daily reading, picking out objects in the room that have the sound in them and coming up with a list of words that contain the sound. Be sure to keep the letter or letter blend on the board or in a place that is highly visible in the classroom throughout the week.

Understanding the Word’s Meaning

Building Vocabulary - Synonym Crossword Puzzle

This activity can be used for different ages, using simple words and clues for young children and more difficult for older children. Create a crossword puzzle; students need to find a synonym for the clue. For example, your clue might be blanket and the word covers can be put into the crossword puzzle. You can also create a crossword puzzle using antonyms.

Change the Words without Changing the Story

Provide students with a short story, maybe a paragraph long, and have them change as many words as they can without changing the meaning of the story very much. For example, the first sentence might read, John went running through the park. Students might change the sentence to read, John moved quickly through the playground.

Parts of a Sentence


Have students bring in a picture of something from home. This can be a picture of a pet, a vacation, their home or a favorite toy. Students trade pictures with another class member and write as many adjectives as they can about the picture. For example, a picture of a pet dog can include words such as: brown, little, sleepy, spotted, playful, and curious, depending on the picture. Have students trade pictures again and compare the adjectives they found.

Race to Make a Sentence

Use vocabulary words and write each word on two cards. Divide the class into two teams and give each team one set of the words, face down. The first member of each team picks up a card (should be the same word on both cards) and runs to the board and write a sentence using the word. The first person with a correct sentence gets one point for their team.

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Your Citation
Bailey, Eileen. "Activities to Practice Decoding Skills for Reading." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Bailey, Eileen. (2020, August 27). Activities to Practice Decoding Skills for Reading. Retrieved from Bailey, Eileen. "Activities to Practice Decoding Skills for Reading." ThoughtCo. (accessed April 2, 2023).