How To Use Decodable Readers

Last week, we chatted about why decodable texts are essential in the primary classroom.  Missed it? Catch up here and come on back.  I’ll wait for ya! 🙂

Now that we are clear on WHY we use decodable readers, let’s talk about HOW to use them and what the routines look like in the classroom…and I’ll share a big freebie, too! 🙂

Pinterest image of decodable books and passages with highlighted sight words

Decodable Readers

Decodable readers are used at the end of the Super Phonics lessons in my classroom as an extension and independent practice time.

On Tuesdays, I show the digital reader and I model read the book.  Then, we go back and choral read together if we have time.

On Wednesdays, students get a paper reader and take it back to their desks.  The first thing they do is read the sight words on the title page…

Decodable reader showing the cover and kid reading the high frequency words.
…and then find them and highlight them in their book.
Kid is highlighting a sight word on the inside of the decodable reader.
After they finish highlighting, they go back and read the text to self.

Student is reading the title of the decodable reader.

As they are reading, I walk around and listen to each child read at least two pages to me.  Yes, this takes time (about 7-10 minutes in the kindergarten class I did this in), but it is a wonderful way for me to see who I need to spend more time with during small groups.  During this time, I make notes of struggling readers and pull them back for additional support with this reader or other decoding skills during our small group time.

Once I have listened to them read, they continue reading, going back to reread if they finish early.  Once I’ve listened to everyone read, I give them a few minutes to color/illustrate the pictures if we have time.  Then, it goes in their browsing box to practice when they finish early. 
Kid is coloring images inside of the decodable reader.   Finished illustration on the inside of the decodable book.

, we buddy read the decodable readers by sitting, “Elbow to elbow, knee to knee, book in the middle so both can see.”  Then, with each page they take turns with I read, You read, We read.  We model this a LOT in the beginning so they know what to do.

As they buddy read, I walk around and listen in again and make any new notes!

Decodable Passages

Decodable passages are for additional practice in small groups.  If I have noted that some students need extra practice decoding, we use the passages.  One of the passages in each resource is the same as the reader.  The other 2 are new texts with the same focus sound.  These are great for kids who just need to practice the fluency with decoding.

In our small groups, we start by reading the sight words together.

Students read the sight words at the bottom of the decodable passage.

Then, they highlight the sight words…just like in the readers.

Kid highlights high frequency words in decodable passage.

Then, they read the passage independently as I listen in.  After I’ve listened to each one in my small group read and taken notes or running records, we all choral read together.

Decodable passage with all sight words highlighted

Assessing Decoding

On Fridays during our small group time, I can use these checkups to see how kids are doing decoding with the skill we practice during the week.  I make one master copy of the checkup for the students to use.

Student reading the decoding assessment page.

And another one for me to make notes on…just like this sample below!  This is great to keep as additional data for RTI purposes or for parent conferences!

The teacher has recorded the accuracy and errors on the decodable text assessment.

You can find these short a decodable texts FREE here and the bundle of Kindergarten decodable texts and first grade decodable texts for 36 sounds HERE.


Click here to view the bundle of kindergarten decodable texts. Click here to view the bundle of first grade decodable texts.  


  1. I just purchased your bundle and I am so excited! Do you have a suggested order or just use in the order "listed" when I bought the bundle? When I downloaded it, the order got jumbled. I am just wondering if you have a suggested order cheat sheet…

    1. I'm so sorry the order got jumbled. I don't have a ton of control on how it downloads from TpT, but I'll look into it and see if there's anything I can do. I will also upload a cheat sheet…that's a great suggestion! The pacing lines up with my phonics curriculum and you can find that in the bonus file in the preview of this resource:

      I hope that helps until I can get the cheat sheet up!
      Whitney 🙂

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