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Reading Instructional Resources Database - Instructional Activities (Search Results)

The essential cognitive elements of the reading process have been outlined in the cognitive framework of reading. To assist educators in organizing their practice around the cognitive framework, we've created a way to easily search for instructional activities that specifically address skills and knowledge outlined by the cognitive framework of reading.

To find out more about the Instructional Activities portion of the Instructional Resources Database, we have provided an overview of the database and a description of the resources from which these activities were selected.

How to use this page

You have just searched the Reading Instructional Resources Database for instructional activities that test Cipher Knowledge. There are 18 activities that match your search. You can also perform an advanced search of the Instructional Resources Database to search for more specific activities.

Cipher Knowledge

What is Cipher Knowledge?
Using the conventions of English to sound out regular words. Most words in English can be sounded out (deciphered) using common letter-sound conventions of English. These conventions of English are not transparent, but an implicit understanding of these conventions is clearly evident in all good readers.

What does teaching Cipher Knowledge look like?
Activities that focus on cipher knowledge help children to develop what are commonly called "word attack" skills - that is how to sound out regular words. These activities can help children to learn letter-sound relationships or to appreciate word families. The emphasis with cipher knowledge activities is placed upon teaching children to apply their grapho-phonemic knowledge to sound-out words. Therefore, these activities should incorporate words with regular letter-sound relationships; irregular words should be avoided (see lexical knowledge).

Displaying 1 of 18

ACTIVITY: On a sentence strip staple 4 sets of five blank cards. Write words onto the cards but leave a letter out of each word. Students are to figure out the words, draw a picture of what the word represents, and write the missing letter.

Words that can be used include:

masa, taco, pato, casa, pan, vaca, mesa, niño (a), vaso, oso, vela, dado, piso, gato, tela, pero, foca, pera


Reader Type: Emergent readers

Language: Spanish

SOURCE: More Alternatives to Worksheets, Creative Teaching Press, Inc.

Displaying 2 of 18

ACTIVITY: For this activity, the teacher will need a collection of cards which contain a picture with the name of the picture under it — the word should have the first letter omitted (e.g. a picture of a ball with the word "_all" under it). The teacher begins by drawing two baseball diamonds on the board, and dividing the class into two teams. Each team then sends a child to the board to "bat." Using the index cards, the teacher shows the "batters" a focus word and picture. The first batter to correctly write the missing initial letter of the focus word on the board advances his or her team one base on the baseball diamond. The first team to score five (5) runs is the winner.

Examples of focus words include:

cebolla (onion), cien (one hundred), zanahoria (carrot), zacate (grass), sirena (mermaid), sandía (watermelon), zorro (fox), cepillo (brush), sombrilla (umbrella), general (general), seis (six), sapo (toad), jirafa (giraffe), cisne (swan), ballena (whale), geletina (Jello), saco (coat), ventana (window)


Reader Type: Emergent readers

Language: Spanish

SOURCE: Carmen Rodríguez

Displaying 3 of 18

ACTIVITY: Blending sounds together to make words is a critical step in reading. Blending practice can begin as soon as the student knows two sounds. The teacher models the practice by pointing to the a in "am" and saying /aaa/ (short /a/ sound) for two seconds, and then by pointing to the m in "am" and saying /mmm/ again for two seconds. Students then say the sounds (holding each for two seconds as the teacher points to the letters).

Students are then asked to say the word the "fast way." The students say "am." The teacher repeats the task and then allows individual students the opportunity to "sound out" a word.

Notes: The emphasis in this activity should be on regular words. Avoid words like "one" and "two" in this activity.

Reader Type: Pre-readers

Language: English

SOURCE: Wesley Elementary—Houston, TX K-1 Grade

Displaying 4 of 18


For this activity, you will need a collection of words that are identical except for the first letter (e.g., cat, hat, mat, etc). Write one of the words on the board and have the children read the word aloud. Next, erase the first letter and replace it with a different letter to make a new word. Again, have the students sound out this new word. Demonstrate the sounding and blending of the letters for them.

Continue with this exercise until you feel confident that children could do the task on their own. Next, write a new word from a different word family on the board. Have a contest to see who can generate the most words from that word family.

Notes: You can use Dr. Seuss books (e.g. Hop on Pop) to illustrate word families to the children. Show them how often words appear that only differ in the first letter. Draw their attention to the spelling and the sound of the words.

Reader Type: Emergent readers

Language: English

SOURCE: Modified from Starting Out Right: A Guide to Promoting Children's Reading Success

Displaying 5 of 18
ACTIVITY TITLE: Detecting Medial SoundsCOGNITIVE ELEMENT: Cipher Knowledge

ACTIVITY: Provide each student a set of letter tiles (or cards with letters on them) needed to build a set of predetermined words. Demonstrate to the children how to build the word HIT using the letter tiles. Show that by replacing the middle letter, you can make other words (HAT, HOT, HUT). Tell the children what word to make, and let them decide what letters they need to change to make that new word. Make this more challenging by asking children to make and pronounce nonsense words (HET).

Notes: This activity is most appropriate with a small group of children.

This activity can be extended by asking children to replace the first or last letters, or by asking children to add letters to the beginning or end of words.

Reader Type: Pre-readers and emergent readers

Language: English

SOURCE: Modified from Intervention Activities Guide

Displaying 6 of 18
ACTIVITY TITLE: Guess Who? Letter SoundsCOGNITIVE ELEMENT: Cipher Knowledge

ACTIVITY: Seat children sit in a circle and say, "I'm thinking of somebody's name that begins with the letter ____". On the board, write the first letter of that person's name and say the letter's name for the children. Then say, "The first sound in that person's name is_____". Repeat the letter name and the first sound (e.g. if you are thinking of the name Robert, say, "The first letter is "R", and his name starts with /r/.). For names beginning with digraphs, such as "CHarles" or "SHawn", it is appropriate to display the diagraph rather than the initial letter only. For names that begin with consonant clusters, such as "SCott" or "TRacy", it is better to only make the first phoneme (/s/ and /t/ respectively) rather than the whole cluster.

Notes: This activity can be done with other words as well. Using the children's names may help to stimulate interest, but it can be combined with lessons in other content areas, too (e.g. I'm thinking of the name of a state that begins with T).

Reader Type: Pre-readers and emergent readers

Language: English

SOURCE: Modified from Fredericksburg Learning Center-Fredericksburg, TX

Displaying 7 of 18

ACTIVITY: Place a collection of letter tiles or cards with letters on them in a box. the first child begins by drawing a letter tile. The child must identify the letter and a word that begins with that letter.

The next child names a different word that begins with the same letter. Continue around the circle until a student is unable to think of a new word. That student loses a point (keep score any way you think appropriate), and draws a new tile or card to start the process over again.

This game can be extended to initial clusters, digraphs, medial vowels and word families (e.g. everybody must think of a words that end in ESS).

Notes: This activity works best with no more than 4 or 5 children at a time.

Reader Type: Pre-readers and emergent readers

Language: English

SOURCE: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory

Displaying 8 of 18
ACTIVITY TITLE: Loteria de letras especialesCOGNITIVE ELEMENT: Cipher Knowledge

ACTIVITY: For this activity, the teacher will need bingo (loteria) cards that contain different combinations of 9 letters arranged in a 3x3 matrix. For example the teacher could choose from the following letters: y, ll, b, v, j, g, z, s, c, k, c(o), qu,. The children will be given a loteria card with covers to place on the card. Explain to the children that the game is played as the usual bingo game but with letters. The teacher will say a word out loud and the children are to place a cover over the letter that the word begins with. Different bingo games can be played. They may play four corners, blackout or diagonal. Any words or nonsense words can be used in the activity. What follows is a list of the most commonly used for the suggested letters:

y - Ya, Yate, Yegua, Yema, Yerba, Yeso, Yo, Yodo, Yoyo, Yuca
ll - llama, llanta, llave, llegar, llorar, lluvia
b - bailar, bajar, bajo, barco, bate, beso, bicicleta, bien, bola, bonita
v - vaca, vamos, van, vaso, vegetal, vela, ven, vender, vez, vino
j - jabón, jamon, jardín, jarra, jaula, jinete, jirafa, joyas, juega, junto
g - gemelos, gente, gigante, gira, girasol, gis
z - Zacate, Zanahoris, Zapato, zoológico, zorro, zumo
s - sacar, saco, sal, saltar, sapo, sartén
c - cepillo, cerrillo, cero, cinco, círculo, ciudad
k - kaki, kermesse, klate, kinder, kiosco
c - conejo, con, compar, contar, contento, corazón, correr
qu - que, quedan, quedar, queria, quien, quiere, queso

Notes: This activity can be extended by focusing on the final phoneme or a vowel.

Reader Type: Emergent readers and developing readers

Language: Spanish

SOURCE: Modified from activities submitted by Stella G. Mata and Isabel Reyes

Displaying 9 of 18
ACTIVITY TITLE: Magazine searchCOGNITIVE ELEMENT: Cipher Knowledge

ACTIVITY: Magazines and newspapers are good sources of words, phrases, and sentences with a particular feature (i.e., beginning sounds, initial consonants, blends, and endings). Provide students a collection of magazines and newspapers. Specify a word feature to be found, such as "words that start like BALL and BACK" or "words that end like WASHED or STARTED." Students cut and paste examples on posters or individual sheets. Students review words found and underline or circle the featured word part.

Notes: In this activity, the teacher should emphasize the consistency in the letter-sound relationships. When a collection of words that "start like BALL" is assembled, for example, the teacher should show the students that all of the words start with the letter "B" and that they also all begin with the sound /b/.

Reader Type: Emergent readers

Language: English

SOURCE: Teaching Kids to Spell

Displaying 10 of 18

ACTIVITY: Provide each child a set of 26 letter cards (vowels in red, consonants in black). Announce and display the letters for the day: one or two vowels and three or more consonants. Have children pull the same letters from their own set of cards. Call out words for the children to construct with their cards. Begin with simple two-letter words and progress to words with more letters. In this way, children practice spelling and reading words. One at a time, display the correctly spelled word, taking care to point out letter-sound correspondence and spelling patterns.

Notes: This activity can be used with young children with simple two- or three-letter words. For older children, longer words can be used.

Reader Type: Emergent readers and developing readers

Language: English

SOURCE: Starting Out Right: A Guide to Promoting Children's Reading Success

Displaying 11 of 18

ACTIVITY: In a pocket chart, assemble letters to make a simple word (e.g. FAN). Have students read the word with you. Model changing one letter of the word to make a new word (e.g. FAT). Direct students to build the new word, one letter at a time. Tell students to say the word out loud. Ask students to change one or two letters at a time and read the new word. For example: FAT can become FAST by adding an S. FAST can become FASTER by adding ER.


Reader Type: Emergent readers

Language: English

SOURCE: Intervention Activities Guide

Displaying 12 of 18

ACTIVITY: This activity can be done after you read a story and you want the students to connect the visual images of the story to the text. After reading the book, select the longest word in the story and make the word with magnetic letters on the magnetic/dry board. Read the word to the students while you point to it. Tell the students that this word (e.g. encontre) is a big word. Count the letters. Then tell them that they are going to help you make little words using the same letters in that word. For example, In El bolsillo de Corduroy the word encontre is repeated several times. Model for the students that the word tren can be made out of the word encontre = tren. Aqui esta la palabra encontre. Vean como puedo usar las letras t, r, e, y n para formar la palabra tren. Show the students how they can move the letters around to make the words. Then ask them to "make" a word for you. ¿Quién me puede hacer la palabra con? Make the word encontre again and let the students move the letters again to form another word.

Example: encontre = con, en, cene, no, noté.


Reader Type: Developing readers

Language: Spanish

SOURCE: Submitted by Isabel Reyes adapted from Making Words (grades 3 - 6 ) By Patricia M. Cunninghm & Dorothy P. Hall

Displaying 13 of 18
ACTIVITY TITLE: Nuestro dia en el circoCOGNITIVE ELEMENT: Cipher Knowledge

ACTIVITY: Give each child a story written on a chart with certain letters missing (e.g. s, c, qu, k, y, ll, j, b, and v). Let children know which letters have been omitted (so they are less likely to fill in inappropriate letters). Have the children race to see who can fill in all of the missing letters first.

Nue_tro día en el _irco

Un día fuimos al _irco __u _ino a nue_stra _iudad. El pa_aso esta_a __orando por__e no podia en_ontrar _u amiga la _irafa. De_idim os a a_udar el pa_aso en_ontrar la _irafa. _uscamos por todas las _aulas. No esta_a con los monos chisto_os __e esta_an _omiendo plátanos. No esta_a _on los o_os negros __e esta_an durmiendo. No esta_a _on las fo_as _entadas en las si__as _ugando _on la pelota. No esta_a _on los elefantes __e esta_an a_udando los hom_res _on la _arpa. ¡Nadien sa_ia donde esta_ba la _irafa! El pa_aso esta_a preo_upado. Finalmente, en_ontramos un raton_ito _afé __u esta_a _entado a un lado del _iosco. El raton_ito di_o —-_o sé donde e_tá la _irafa. La _irafa está _omiendo las hojas de los árboles __ue están un lado del par__e. —- _uando __egamos a los árboles en_ontramos la _irafa. El pa_aso esta_a muy feli_. ¡La _irafa esta_a muy __ena! El pa_aso nos dio unos _oletos gratis para entrar al _irco. Á¡Nos divertimos mucho y todos nos __edamos muy feliz!

Notes: This activity can be made more or less difficult, depending on how many letters are removed. If only the letters a, m, and g are removed, the task becomes much easier.

Reader Type: Developing readers

Language: Spanish

SOURCE: Submitted by Gloria Sanchez

Displaying 14 of 18
ACTIVITY TITLE: Onset and Rime SubstitutionCOGNITIVE ELEMENT: Cipher Knowledge

ACTIVITY: Dictate pairs of words for the students to write. Have students write one word in red ink and the other word in blue ink. Have them combine the onset of one word (any consonant sounds that precede the vowel) with the rime of the other word (the vowel and any consonant sounds that come after it) to make a new word. Tell them to not change the colors of the letters when they write the new word. For example: Combine the onset of BALL (in red) with the rime of SACK (in blue) to make the word BACK (the letter B would be written in red, the rime ACK would be written in blue).

Other examples include
combine BRAIN with HIDE to make BRIDE
combine FACE with DOG to make FOG
combine CAR with MAT to make CAT

Notes: For older children, you can use non-sense words (combine HAIR with TAR to make HAR or TAIR). Also, you can have students try to come up with words that work in both directions (BALL can be combined with FAT to make both BAT and FALL).

Reader Type: Emergent readers and developing readers

Language: English

SOURCE: Modified from Fredericksburg Elementary, Fredericksburg, TX

Displaying 15 of 18
ACTIVITY TITLE: Phonics with Dr. SeussCOGNITIVE ELEMENT: Cipher Knowledge

ACTIVITY: You will need a copy of Dr. Seuss' One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. Prepare a sheet of large chart paper with the following phonograms written on top: -ad,-op,-ish,-ink,-ump.

Introduce the book by telling students they will hear lots of words that rhyme as you read. Tell students to listen for words that end in (point and say each phonogram on chart). After reading, ask students to name words having the same endings as the 5 phonograms. Give some words as examples. When students name a word, ask them to find the word ending on the chart.

The teacher or student writes the identified word under the correct phonogram on the chart paper. As the list grows, students read the words that are already written on the chart paper.

Notes: It is important to remember that the emphasis of this activity should be placed on teaching children word families, not rhyme, per se. Children should be encouraged to think about how the words are spelled and how the words sound.

Reader Type: Emergent readers

Language: English

SOURCE: AskERIC Lesson Plan #AELP-RDG0027

Displaying 16 of 18
ACTIVITY TITLE: Regular Word BingoCOGNITIVE ELEMENT: Cipher Knowledge

ACTIVITY: Create 2-4 bingo cards (8 1/2 x 11), each containing 20 squares, and a deck of cards containing 32 pattern words and 6 "wild cards." Wild cards can have any symbol on them (e.g., happy face). At the top of each card place headers with the vowel sounds the class is studying (e.g. BAT, MAKE, CAR, FOOD, etc.).

To begin the game, a player draws a word from the deck. If the player can place the word in the appropriate column (e.g., /man/ under /bat/, /hard/ under /car/), and then read each word in that column, the word is left on the board. If the player misreads the word or places it in an incorrect column, the word is removed from the board. If a player draws a wild card from the deck, the card can be placed anywhere on the board. Then the player takes another turn. The game is over when one of the players fills all the squares on the bingo card.


Reader Type: Emergent readers and developing readers

Language: English

SOURCE: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory

Displaying 17 of 18

ACTIVITY: Write a word on the board. Have the students sound, blend, and identify. Replace one letter of the spelled word. Ask students to read the new word. Reinforce their responses by distinctly sounding and blending its letters.

Increase the difficulty of the task by using nonsense words (e.g. change STEP, a real word, into STIP or STEB). Children should see that even when the word does not make sense, the rules of pronunciation still apply.

Notes: In this activity you may find that it is better to keep the old word on the board and write the new word below it so the students are reminded to think of the previous word, how it was pronounced, and to think about how this new word is pronounced similarly. (e.g. if you changed STEP into STOP, children should see that only the vowel sound in the middle changed — the rest of the word is the same).

Reader Type: Emergent readers and developing readers

Language: English

SOURCE: Modified from Roosevelt Elementary—Bernalillo, NM

Displaying 18 of 18

ACTIVITY: Give students a stack of cards with words written on them. The words on the cards should belong to a variety of categories (see below), and should be words the children are familiar with. The students should figure out what the categories are and sort the cards into appropriate piles.

Examples of categories include:
Words that rhyme
Words with the same initial or final letter
Words with initial or final letter clusters
Words with the same number of syllables
Words with the same vowel sound

Notes: Note, sometimes children come up with categories that the teacher did not intend — children should be asked to explain how the cards represent the categories that they defined.

Reader Type: Emergent readers and developing readers

Language: English

SOURCE: Guided Reading

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Displayed 18 instructional activities.

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