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Upper Elementary Literacy Activities

Upper elementary literacy activities should include a heavy focus on fluency and comprehension. Students also still need to focus on phonics skills with relation to multiple syllable words, and content specific vocabulary. These 4th and 5th grade readers need time to apply decoding skills while reading independently. Upper elementary students also need to take time to read for meaning, as comprehension is the ultimate goal for readers.  

Word work for 4th and 5th Graders

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Word work for 4th and 5th graders includes a multitude of multiple syllable words. These focus words may be content specific, include Greek or Latin roots, or, simply include a large amount of phonics patterns, such as vowel teams, suffixes, etc. 

During word work activities, students should have a chance to find parts of words they know, within the larger words. Students should practice learning and applying their understanding of the different syllable types and rules of those syllables. 

Activities upper elementary students may do for word work:

  • Building words using roots, then adding suffixes.
  • Completing word webs to show their understanding of more challenging words, that include Latin or Greek roots.
  • Breaking words down and labeling by syllables.
  • Building words using different parts of words. 
  • Sorting words based on similarities. 

The word work portion of a lesson should focus on words in isolation. The end goal is that students can then apply this knowledge to words in context, as a follow up. 

Fluency in Upper Elementary

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Fluency in upper elementary can look different for each student. Some students may be focusing primarily on the speed of their reading. Others may be working on improving their ability to read for meaning. Students can focus on fluency in small groups, during independent reading time, or in literacy centers. 

You can set up a fluency center that remains the same all year, with just the actual texts being used changing. Students can choose a specific fluency focus and then work toward improving that goal, in the center. 

My Fluency passages for upper elementary will provide you with the materials you need to allow students to focus on improving their fluency!

If you’re unsure how to incorporate fluency into your daily literacy activities, this post on fluency in the classroom, will help!

Guided Reading in 4th and 5th Grade

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Guided Reading in 4th and 5th grade is similar to fluency- the focus may be different for each reader. However, the overall goal is to get students to practice applying their reading skills, independently, while improving their ability to comprehend.

My upper elementary guided reading passages packs include everything you need to get your groups up and running. Your students will be invested in the texts, allowing you to focus on specific issues of concern, with individual students. 

It’s important to include small group reading time into your day, even for the “big kids”. Students need the small group instruction and attention from you as they continue to grow as readers.

 Providing students with a variety of texts, and genres, will ensure that they are improving their content specific reading abilities. It also allows them to improve their ability to read for meaning, for all types of texts.

As with all the other grades, upper elementary literacy activities are a huge part of the day. Students need to understand that reading is an incredible gift that they can just keep unwrapping, each day! 

Aylin Claahsen

Aylin Claahsen

Providing resources and support to engage all readers.

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Hi, I'm Aylin!

I’m so happy you’re here! I’m a certified reading specialist who loves talking all things literacy. I have a huge passion for providing resources and support to engage all readers!


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