Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

Classic Post: Guided Reading Activities with Phonics—with FREE Download!

This is a guest post by Brian Hopkins that was originally published in October 2013. If you like what you see here, click here to read his other posts, or check out his blog, Hopkins' Hoppin' Happenings, which has a Common Core focus and posts with topics as diverse as phonics, science, and math.

Guided Reading Activities with Phonics

Last time, I discussed tying in informational texts and their text features with learning about animals. Today, I am excited to share with you some guided reading activities that focus on phonics.

The first thing you need to do is find out at what level your students are reading and what phonics skills they lack. Then you can pick out some books on an instructional level (where the child reads 90–94% of the words correctly) that have a few of those sounds. There are some terrific books in The Joy Cowley Collection that do just that for children who are past the phase of reading books with repetition. 

Here is a list of a few books and the phonics sounds that could be targeted in each:

Hairy Bear and the Door: aw/au – saw, paw, sausage; ow – growled, howled, yowled 

Hairy Bear on the Roof: o-e – rose, hose, nose

Fix-It Bear: short vowels – sad, glad, box, pup, up, fix, it, not, will, is, this; ay – play, away 

Mrs. Wishy-Washy and the Big Farm Fairea/ee: clean, neat, sweet.  oa/o-e: rose, hose, soap, moans, groans; est – cleanest, neatest, tidiest, sweetest

Mrs. Wishy-Washy and the Big Tub: ea/ee – seats, beach, sea, seen

Now that you have come up with a phonics skill to work on and a book that includes it, you can give the students some word work activities. Elkonin Boxes are small boxes split up with lines. Have the children push up a counter for every sound (not letter) in the word. So if the word is "fix," they would say the sounds one at a time as they pushed them into each part of the box /f/ goes into the first part, /i/ into the second, and x into the third. If the sound is oa and the word is "soap," they would push the first sound /s/ into the first box, the next sound oa /o/ into the second box, and the /p/ into the third box. 

Another fun activity children love is sorting words. Pick two phonics sounds that are similar or one that has more than one way to spell the same sound, such as eaand ee. Give the children a page of words to cut out and place into the correct category, ea or ee, etc. Have the children highlight the target sounds. Then they can practice reading the words to a partner or a teacher. To download a a FREE PDF of 2 word sorts, scroll to the bottom of the page! It's from one of my best sellers, which includes 41 word sorts.

One more activity that children love doing is looking in the book for a specific sound (word hunt) and when they find it, they use highlighter tape by placing the tape (which comes off easily) on the word they are searching for. 

After doing some of these fun activities, you can have the students in your group read the book you chose with those target sounds. You have now helped set them up for success! I hope you enjoyed these fun activities and find them useful for your students.


My name is Brian Hopkins and I am from Brevard County, Florida. I graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education K–6. I also have my ESOL endorsement and am CET certified to mentor teachers and have student interns. I taught Kindergarten for three years, 2nd grade for five years, and completed a short term in 5th grade. I also subbed in a 3rd/4th grade class for a month. Currently, I am a substitute teacher as I try to seek a new teaching assignment, which I hope is right around the corner! In my spare time, I enjoy listening to country music, reading, and making teaching materials.


For more information on The Joy Cowley Collection, which includes the books featured in today's post, you can click here to visit our website, or click the image below on the left to download an information sheet with key features! To download Brian's word sort PDF, click the image on the right, and ENJOY!

New Call-to-Action   Hopkins Word Sort