Close this search box.

Winter Phonics and Fluency Activities

As a first grade teacher, you know just that phonics and fluency are the foundations of reading. Yes, reading comprehension is important, but it doesn’t matter if the student can’t accurately decode the text in the time needed to ensure comprehension. 

Did you know that 37% of children arrive at kindergarten without the skills necessary for lifetime learning? 

Even more shocking, half of children from low-income communities start first grade up to two years behind their peers. 

As a first grade teacher, it’s hard to not feel overwhelmed and discouraged. 

Not to mention, this data is from a “normal” reading gap. 

Since COVID, the gap has become more of a canyon!

But this isn’t news to you. 

So, how can you solidify your students ability to decode texts fluently in a way that keeps them engaged and excited about reading, but requires little prep from you? 

Keep reading.

Fluency Practice in First Grade

The first stage of reading is learning how to decode and sound out the words. The second stage of reading is learning how to do that quickly and in a natural sounding way!

There are countless reading activities that can help students become efficient readers.

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!

[Click here to read 10 FUN activities to increase reading fluency]

4 Easy Tips for Improving Reading Fluency

-Model fluent reading : First grade students need to hear what they SHOULD sound like when they are reading and as teachers, we need to model it for them. Put simply, students need to know the expectation for oral reading. 

-Book Repetition : Reading the same book multiple times might seem silly, but it is really beneficial for first grade students because it helps them transition between the decoding and fluency stages of reading. During the first read, students are working hard at decoding. But by the second or third reading, students are familiar with the words and can focus more on how fast they are reading or what they sound like.

-Sight Word Phrases : Practicing short phrases or word ladders can be done super quickly and it’s great to send home for parents; this is also a great strategy for learning sight words because it helps students learn them in the same context they will most likely see them in a book

-Go Down Two Reading Levels : You can have students go down two reading levels below their current instructional level a few times a week. This strategy will help students build their words per minute because they are not having to work so hard at decoding; it will also help build student confidence which is KEY for improving reading fluency in first grade.

Winter Phonics and Fluency for First Grade

I created a set of holiday themed phonics and fluency passages with teachers and readers in mind. 

These passages come in three levels to help you meet the needs of all your learners. There is a basic level that allows students to focus on one sentence at a time. 

The intermediate level is a shorter passage with three to four sentences but it focuses on short vowel words that are easier to decode. 

The hardest passage includes three to five sentences but includes long vowel words (CVCe and vowel pairs) that are more difficult for students to decode. 

Before reading, students must identify four sight words in the passage.

The student must read the sentences or the passage three different times. Reading the same text several times helps students with fluency and automaticity. 

These Phonics and Fluency passages can be used for:

  • small group instruction
  • independent station activities
  • at home activities/homework

Benefits of Phonics and Fluency Passages

What does this mean for you? 

It means that your students are working on: 

  • Sight words
  • Decoding short vowels or long vowels
  • Phrasing of sentences
  • Speed of reading
  • Increasing fluency through multiple reads 

Because this is a no prep resource, it also means that your prep time includes simply click, print, copy and go!

The versatility of this product also means that if you are running short on time, you can send this home for parents to work on with their students. 

Once students become familiar with this activity, you can also start using it as a literacy station. You can have students complete it independently or with a partner through buddy reading. 

Phonics and Fluency Passages for First Grade

So what are you waiting for? 

You NEED these activities in your lesson plans if: 

  • You have students who are struggling with decoding and fluency
  • You want to save time planning
  • You need flexible resources to fit into multiple areas of your classroom

You can also save 20% by purchasing this product through the GROWING Phonics and Fluency Bundle.

First Grade Reading Favorites

Winter Fluency Passages Blog Post

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!