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Literacy Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Independent literacy activities

Independent literacy activities are designed to engage the rest of the class in active literacy learning when the teacher is working with small groups of students. The activities should support the skills and strategies currently being taught in the literacy programme. Often, students will be working on reading, writing, or oral language activities related to their current shared or guided reading text.

Reading activities

The best follow-up to reading is more reading. Reading activities should be purposeful and reinforce earlier learning. There will be some activities that the students will be expected to do every day, such as reading the books in their “independent” boxes, reading big books, poems, chants, and song charts, or reading along to audio versions of stories or songs. Other activities, such as Readers’ Theatre, will be included from time to time.

Matariki Other reading materials could include:

  • library corner books
  • topic-related classroom displays and charts
  • pieces of shared writing such as language experience
    books and newsboard stories
  • the students’ published writing
  • digital texts such as approved or student-created
    websites, CD-ROMs, e-books, apps, or slideshows
  • (for year 1) whole and cut-up versions of sentences from familiar texts
  • (for year 1) phrase cards that students can put together to create sentences, for example, “I went/to the shop/to get some bread”.

Alphabet, word, and spelling activities

As students move through years 1 to 3, the focus will move from acquiring knowledge of the alphabet and of letter–sound relationships and acquiring “sight words” to spelling and aspects of word study.

Alphabet and word activities for year 1 students

  • Provide a range of alphabet books, puzzles, and computer games to reinforce students’ knowledge of letters and sounds. Games, such as snap, bingo, and dominoes, can be adapted to include initial consonant blends, rimes, high-frequency words, and familiar vocabulary. Gradually introduce new words and more complex word features. Choose words that have links with current texts or topics.
  • Encourage students to write using a variety of media, such as chalk, paint brushes, or sand. See I Can Write for more ideas.
  • Use magnetic letters, dough, paint, or chalk to explore and practice letter formations. Laminate handwriting cards so that students can write on them with whiteboard pens to practise letter formation. Provide newspapers and magazines for students to cut up and use the letters and words.

Spelling and word activities for year 2 and 3 students

Plan a range of activities that give students the opportunity to increase their spelling accuracy and to learn more about how words are constructed. For example, students can:

  • practise spelling words
  • use a set of topic word cards to match each word with its meaning
  • arrange word cards in alphabetical order as a step towards using a dictionary or index or locating fiction by the author's surname in the library
  • play spelling and word games, including computer games
  • add to a class collection of word types, for example, words ending in “ful” or interesting adjectives. Use newspapers and magazines to locate words with specific features.

Writing activities

Display models of writing, such as language experience texts and shared writing texts.

For year 1 students, set up a writing table with coloured card, old envelopes, marker pens, crayons, and coloured pencils for independent writing.

Give students access to whiteboards, blackboards, computers, and/or tablets for specific writing activities.

Encourage students to work with a peer or a classroom helper to create a written text such as a slideshow or captions for a photo montage.

Linking writing to reading

Independent writing activities are increasingly linked to recent guided or shared reading texts. Students will practise the skills modelled during shared writing or the strategies discussed while reading a text.

Such activities could include:

Two Tiger Tales

  • innovating on a sentence structure
  • writing a new ending or a new title
  • writing captions for photographs
  • converting text from one type to another, for example, direct speech to speech bubbles
  • filling in a T-chart showing a problem and the resolution in a narrative
  • writing a response to a text, for example, a letter to the ghost in Number One
  • drawing story maps with labels
  • filling in graphic organisers to support summarising
  • completing a comparison chart, for example, comparing the two stories in Two Tiger Tales.

Updated on: 20 Nov 2014