Close this search box.

10 Activities to Increase Reading Fluency

Need some ideas to help your first grade students increase their reading fluency?

Below you will find 12 strategies that I have used in my classroom this year to help my students to increase their reading fluency. 

These are effective strategies that I use in my reading, writing and poetry stations and at my teacher table during guided reading!

But the success of reading activities depends on something that most teachers don't talk about… having fun! If students are having fun, they are naturally going to read better and faster!

Today we are going to be talking about 10 easy ways to increase Reading Fluency in your first grade classroom:

  1. Sight Word with Punctuation
  2. Word Ladders
  3. Fun Pointers
  4. Read to a Stuffed Animal
  5. Sentence Cut Apart Activities
  6. Scoop Phrases
  7. Sight Word Exit Tickets
  8. Echo Reads
  9. Partner Reads
  10. Whisper Phones

These reading fluency activities for first grade are listed in no particular order, but I encourage you to read through all of the activities because what works for one student might not work for another.

Fluency Activity #1: Sight Words with Punctuation

This is a strategy I use at my teacher table during guided reading. I give each student a stack of sight word cards, markers and a blank piece of paper.

Students write their sight words on the paper with punctuation at the end of the word.

Once they have written 10 or so words, they practice reading those words with the proper expression to match the punctuation.

Not only are they practicing reading with fluency, but they are also working on sight word recognition as well!

To save on paper, students can write their sights words with punctuation straight on their desk with a dry erase marker!

Fluency Activity #2: Word Ladders

I really like to use this strategy at my small group table during guided reading.

I give students a blank piece of paper and some crayons. Then I choose a phrase from the text we just read.

Students will make the word ladder on their paper, then practice reading the word ladder to me or I partner them up and let the read their word ladder to a friend.

The success of the station depends on repetition. Make sure to choose a sentence or phrase that includes a sight word you have been practicing or a decoding skill you have been working on. 

I also really like to use word ladders in my poetry station. Students can choose a stanza from a poem to make a word ladder and practice reading it to a friend.

Fluency Activity #3: Fun Pointers

This strategy can be used to read sight words or a text. 

Simply find some kind of fun pointer to help the students keep their place. 

I like finding fun things at dollar tree like the magic wand seen in the picture, or even small flashlights!

Some teachers at my school even have a “flashlight Friday” where students bring their flashlights from home to read their books with!

Fluency Activity #4: Read to a Stuffed Animal

This is a fun idea that I was just introduced to this year. My favorite set up I have seen so far is by First Grade Blue Skies. The idea is very simple.  During reading time, students choose a stuffed animal and read their book to them.

Students get practicing reading aloud, but you can control the noise a little better than a partner read by asking them to whisper read to their animal.

You can choose a day where everyone brings in a stuffed animals to read to OR you can use it as a behavior management reward where students can bring a stuffed animal for the day if the earn enough points/classroom money, etc. 

Fluency Activity #5: Sentence Cut Apart Activities

Sentence cut apart activities are a great way to help first grade students increase reading fluency.

I use this strategy at my writing station and also at my small group table during guided reading in a few different ways: 

Option 1: Sight Word Sentences

As a class, we come up with a sentence using one of our sight words. Then we cut the sentence apart and put it in our word work station. 

Students have to put the sentence back together during their station time.

For an added layer of support, you can write the sentence out twice. Leave one sentence strip as a full sentence for students to refer back to, or they can match the cut apart pieces to the full sentence like a puzzle. 

Option 2: Poetry Sentences

Take a short poem and write it out on sentence strips. Cut the poem into sentences, short phrases or sight words. Students put the poem together in order or match the sight word cards to the sentence strips. 

Fluency Activity #6: Scoop Phrases

This strategy is very simple and should be taught whole group first, then reinforced in a small guided reading group.

Teach students to “scoop up” common phrases.

Rather than reading each word separately in peanut-butter-and-jelly, teach them to read it in one breath/phrase. 

Again, this is a very specific teaching point that should be addressed in a text. 

Fluency Activity #7: Sight Word Exit Tickets

Sight word exit tickets are a super easy and fun way to help students master their first grade sight words. 

I've done it a few different ways. 

Sometimes I just post a few words for the week by the door. Each time the students leave the room, they have to touch and read one of the sight words. 

Other times (when I wanted something a little more low maintenance) we built a sight words anchor chart that stayed on the door. 

The concept for the anchor chart was the same. Students still had to touch and read a sight word to leave the room. 

The benefit of 2-3 sight words is that you can have students concentrate on the words you want them to.

The benefit of an anchor chart is that it has to be changed out less frequently. 

Fluency Activity #8: Echo Reads

One very effective way for students to become more fluent readers is  to listen to fluent oral reading modeled by their teacher. An echo read is very simple.

The teacher chooses a sentence or paragraph from the book and reads it to the student(s) with expression. The student(s) then repeat the phrase back to the teacher using the same expression. I

‘ve found that it works better if you choose a paragraph from a text that the students have already read in your small group.

That way, students have already practiced decoding the book and focus more on reading that text more fluently.

Fluency Activity #9: Partner Reads

Partner reading, also known as paired reading, is another easy fluency strategy that is super easy to implement in the classroom.

Researchers have said that in order for a student to increase fluency, they must practice listening to and reading to other readers of all kinds.

What I have seen in my classroom is that students often try their hardest when they are reading to a friend because they want to impress that friend with their reading skills.

The best part, students always LOVE partner reading, so you get named “the fun teacher”.

Fluency Activity #10: Whisper Phones

Another noise level friendly strategy is whisper phones.

Whisper phones allow students to hear themselves when they read without raising their voice above a whisper.

You can find some really affordable whisper phones HERE on Amazon.

More First Grade Favorites:

10 Ways to Increase Reading Fluency

sign up for free stuff

Sign up to receive weekly emails with tips, free resources and info about upcoming sales.

Kristen Sullins

Kristen Sullins

I am a current Elementary Librarian and
Enrichment Teacher, mother of two, follower of Christ and Texas native. In my own classroom, I love to save time by finding unique ways to integrate writing, social studies and science into all parts of my day. I also love all things organization!