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Our Top 5 Tips for Using Practice Sheets

Fluency—the ability to read accurately and quickly—is a very important skill for beginning readers.

If a student doesn’t achieve fluency in reading, comprehension may also lag behind. That’s why the Practice Sheets (also known as Fluency Sheets) used throughout the All About Reading program are designed to encourage and build fluency, which produces strong, confident readers.

But students don’t always find the Practice Sheets to be quite as exciting as the other hands-on activities in the AAR lessons. If working on Practice Sheets has become a chore for you and your child, then it’s time to be creative and make them fun again. With a little imagination, practice sessions can become another part of the lessons that your child looks forward to!

I’m sometimes asked about ways to make fluency practice a little bit easier to digest, so here’s a round-up of my top 5 tips!

Tips for Using All About Reading Practice Sheets

Top 5 Tips for Using Practice Sheets infographic

Would you like to try one of my favorite practice sheet ideas?

Download the “Feed the Monster” Activity!

Feed the Monster download graphics

Just print and color the template, then have your child feed Practice Sheets to the monster in bite-sized pieces! (You’ll find the monster in AAR Level 1, Lesson 4, or you can download your Feed the Monster template here!)

Need More Ideas?

If working on Practice Sheets has become a chore for you and your child, then it’s time to be creative and make them fun again. With a little imagination, practice sessions can become another part of the lessons that your child looks forward to! Here are some great tips our readers have shared with us.

All About Reading Practice Sheet Tips Recommended by Our Readers:

  • Make a racetrack game board with spaces sized to fit a matchbox car. Roll a dice to determine how many words to read on the fluency sheet. Move forward that many spaces on the game board. Include road hazards and rewards like “flat tire, go back 2 spaces” or “record-breaking lap, move ahead 1 space, etc.) (Recommended by Christi via blog comment)
  • Use a white crayon to write words on small pieces of white paper. Child chooses a paper and colors the paper with a marker. Read the word/phrase/sentence when it “magically” appears. (Recommended by Dorothy S. via blog comment)
  • Glue the monster template onto a cereal box before cutting the slit in the monster’s mouth. Your child feeds the monster as he reads the words on the strips of paper. All the “monster food” lands in the box! (Recommended by Gayle G. via blog comment)
  • Cut the Practice Sheet into strips and use the strips with the Ziggy games. (Recommended by Pamela B. via Facebook)
  • Cut the words into long strips. Use the strips to create a road on a table or on the floor. Have child drive a matchbox car over the words as he reads them! (Recommended by Holly via blog comment)
  • If you need to reduce the amount of daily work, divide the Practice Sheet up evenly over 2-3 days. Highlight the Practice Sheet in different colors so the child only has to do one color per day. (Recommended by Lynda via blog comment)
  • Turn your practice session into a game of charades! Draw stick figures with faces that communicate emotions like: frustration, confusion, fear, happiness, love, anger, worry, hopefulness, etc. Children choose a word/sentence to read and an emotion. The student has to read the sentence with that emotion. Very entertaining! (Recommended by Myko M. via blog comment)
  • Write the words/sentences on the white board. The child reads them randomly and mom has to find them and erase them. (Recommended by Gail S. via blog comment)
  • Reward the completion of each section with a special treat (chocolate and marshmallows make great ones!) or a special privilege. (Recommended by Molly R. & Samantha via blog comment)
  • Cut up the Practice Sheets and hide the strips around the room. Children hunt for strips, reading each one aloud as he finds them! (Recommended by Karen B. via Facebook)
  • Use green, yellow, and red sticker dots. Place a green sticker at the starting point. Place a red sticker at the stopping point. Place an “extra credit” yellow sticker a bit further down the page. If your student goes all out and gets to the yellow sticker reward him with a special treat. (Recommended by Kimberly via blog comment)
  • Pencil in numbers 1-6 along the sides of the different sections of one of the Practice Sheets. Child rolls a die and reads the section that corresponds with the rolled number. (Recommended by Ellie via blog comment)
  • Let the kids “stay up late” to work on their Practice Sheets with Dad at bedtime. (Recommended by Emily W. via blog comment)
  • Laminate the Practice Sheets and let your child cross off the words/sentences with a dry erase marker after reading them. (Recommended by Laura via blog comment)
  • Using a wet erase marker, underline all the words that can be acted out. Tell your child to pick from the underlined words, and act them out. (Recommended by Laura via blog comment)
  • Make it a game and let your child write the words with sidewalk chalk outside, or with dry erase markers on your board, but only if your child reads the word first. Use different colors so they can get “fancy”! (Recommended by Laura via blog comment)
  • Print out this infographic and stick it right on the front of your fluency sheet folder to remind yourself of ways to make practice fun! (Recommended by Elena via blog comment)

Looking for more fun ways to help your student practice reading? Download our Reading Activity Bundle and get instant access to 10 multisensory activities.

Reading Activity Bundle 705

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Leave a Comment

Mary

says:

I have bought some chunky stampers for one little girl to place at the end of each line after she reads it. There is a star, a spider, and a happy face etc.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Mary,
I think stamps would be hugely motivating to a young reader! Great idea. Thank you for sharing it.

margaret casto

says:

I teach children with special needs and the hardest thing about teaching is motivating them. These activities look really fun and engaging.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Margaret,
I think you will find our blog post 9 Ways to Keep Reading and Spelling Lessons Motivating helpful.

Jamie Figliozzi

says:

We put the practice sheets in sheet protectors and my son chooses the sections he wants to read and we mark them with dry erase markers. The next day, we finish the ones we did not do. This gives him more control over his learning. This works for us so far. I put the whole workbook in sheet protectors so we can revisit anything we need to. Practice sheets are also great for extra dictation practice in All About Spelling.
I like the fresh idea you presented that get him moving.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jamie,
Those sheet protectors are so useful for many things. Thank you for sharing this.

Kari

says:

Thanks for the great ideas! My son thought the fluency sheets were torture at first, but then the Feed the Monster game changed that for him. The biggest discovery was that he appreciates having the words cut up so he can focus on one word, phrase or sentence at a time. It has made things much better for us!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Kari,
Thank you for letting us know which of these tips have most helped your son. It’s great to hear that they have worked.

Barbara

says:

I appreciate your helpful tips! Thanks.

Michelle

says:

Very helpful ideas. Thank you!

Taura

says:

Awesome!
My Level 1 chose suggestions #2,3,4! :-)

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Taura,
Feeding the monster is a fan favorite. Some have glued the monster onto a box, bag, or oatmeal container before cutting the mouth out to allow him to stand up and to catch the words inside.

Laura

says:

I’m a first year homeschooler with a Kindergartener using Lever 1 AAR. I am slowly understanding that I need to slow down our lessons to spend the time on fluency. My daughter hates the fluency practice sheets, but we have found some good ways to spice them up.
1. I laminate them and let her cross them out with a wet erase marker. That way we can come back to it and review another day once we have cleaned it off.
2. Today, in our basement, which has a tile floor, I told her she could hop from tile to tile by reading a word. If she hopped all the way across the room and back, she earned a special treat.
3. Using a wet erase marker, I underlined all the words that could be acted out. I told her to just pick the yellow words, and then she acted them out, which got her moving.
4. We also made it a game to let her write the words out in sidewalk chalk outside, or in dry erase marker on our board, but only if she read the word first. She got to use all different colors and be fancy with it, which kept her motivated.

I’m breaking the fluency practice sheets up into 3 or 4 days, and slowing down our reading progress on purpose so we can make sure our foundation for reading is strong. Thanks for these other ideas, everyone!!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Laura,
Thank you for sharing all the ideas you have come up with to make the fluency sheets more motivating for your daughter. These are some great ideas. I especially like the one about reading action words and then acting them out.

Audra

says:

My son has enjoyed feeding the monster and also making him throw the words up. Boys!

Erica

says:

Thanks for some great tips! My daughter literally ran out of the room today when I brought out the dreaded fluency practice sheet. We clearly need to spice things up a bit!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Erica,
OH NO! Poor girl. I agree that maybe some spice and fun maybe in order.

Eileen

says:

I knew I’d seen this post here some time ago, since I’d found the “feed the monster” idea here while using another program. Now that I’m using yours (and LOVING it!!), I had to get back here to see what other ideas you and your readers may have. Wow, am I glad I did! Great ideas I’ll be putting to use *tomorrow*! Thanks so much for a wonderful reading program and this awesome resource. (And your search button is great! I found this post on the first try!!!)

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Eileen,
Thank you for the rave review! And thank you for mentioning the search button. We have had a team working on making the search function work better, and it’s great to hear they have succeeded.

Elena

says:

I love these little helps. I put this infographic in the front of our folder to remind me of ways to make it fun!!

Merry

says: Customer Service

What a good idea to put the infographic in your folder!

Vanessa

says:

I am loving these. We will definitely be using the “feed the monster” game. Thank you for the ideas!

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Vanessa! Enjoy!

Leah s

says:

Thank you for these ideas!!

christi

says:

I made a race car track out of 4 pieces of computer paper taped together in a large square. The track ‘snakes’ around the pages (spaced to fit a match box car). We roll a dice and read that many words off the fluency sheet and then move that many spaces on the game board. When we get to the sentences I number them and whatever number we roll that is the sentence we read. (Although my son loves this game it can take a bit longer to get through the sheets…but great fun.) Oh, don’t forget to put some hazards on the board and rewards (flat tire go back 2 spaces, record breaking lap move ahead 1….etc.)

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

Christi, not only do I love your matchbox car activity, but I’m laughing that you included road hazards. Obstacles along the way will keep things interesting!

Dorothy S

says:

One way I make fluency sheets fun for my son is to write out the words or sentences on a white sheet of paper with white crayon. I divide the paper into equally sized rectangles with a black marker. The words are written inside the rectangles with the white crayon. Periodically, I put a question mark in a rectangle instead of a word. My son colors inside each rectangle with a marker making the word magically appear. He then reads the word to me. When he colors in a rectangle and a question mark appears he chooses a slip of paper from a jar that I’ve prepared. Each slip of paper has a fun short activity that he gets to do with me like race mom to the end of the hall and back or hop around the table on one foot. After he does the activity he colors more rectangles and reads the words until he finds another question mark. The question marks are strategically placed so that he has a chance to get his wiggles out when he needs a break and gives him something to look forward to as he tackles his fluency practice. Having the words appear avoids the moans and groans because he doesn’t see a long list and it adds an extra cool factor.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

Dorothy, thank you so much for sharing this activity idea with us! The question marks certainly add a fun element, and the physical activity ideas will surely help kids burn off extra energy. This is a perfect multisensory activity!

Gayle Garretson

says:

To make reading a much friendlier task I have a point and prize system. In the corner of our white board I keep track of the points with a dry erase marker. !00 points = a prize. I give one point for every correct Phonogram Card and one point for every correct Word Card. They get 2 points for every mastered Word Card. I story = 5 points…you get the idea. To make the Fluency Practice Sheets more fun I give one point for every correct word they can read in 5 minutes. There are as many point variations as a person can think of.

Gayle Garretson

says:

I took the “feed your monster” paper and cut him out after coloring him. I glued the monster onto a cereal type box and cut a slit into his mouth into the box. All the “monster food” landed in the box.

Cherie

says:

Practice for the fluency sheets. My grandkids are both dyslexic. I rewrote the fluency sheets a little larger type. I put groups of words in smaller amounts for them to pass. They like to pass the small groups of words. It’s not so overwhelming for them in small groups . Also, the phrases and sentences. All the practice to pass really helps their fluency when reading the stories, which they love. Thank you for this program.

Pamela

says:

I cut them up and use them with the Ziggy games instead of the flash cards.

Mica

says:

I just ordered Level 1 for my kindergartner (what we were doing is not working for him), and the fluency sheets were the only thing I am worried about being difficult for us. Thank you for suggestions on how to break it up!

Aubrie

says:

Thank you all for these ideas, they will be so helpful! The fluency sheets have been our biggest challenge.

Holly

says:

Another idea- cut the words into long strips. Place on a long table or floor (like a road) and have child drive a matchbox car over the words as he reads them!

Holly

says:

I number the columns (1, 2, 3, 4) and then my son rolls a dice and has to read a word from the column with the respective number that he rolled. So if he rolls a 2, then he has to read a word from column #2. You could also number the rows (instead of the columns), and roll a dice and have him read the words in the row of the number he rolled.

Amy

says:

Love these ideas! We were skipping the practice sheets because my daughter would groan everytime she saw them and I did not want her to not enjoy reading. But then we hit initial and final word blends and I felt like she needed to try the fluency sheets. She has been doing really well but I can see what a difference the fluency sheets make even for readers that are going at a fast pace or reviewing. It has really helped her. I don’t make her do the whole sheet, but the new words and sentences. We used Do- A- Dot markers/paints and she put a colored dot on each one and had fun changing the color after she started a new line of words. Then today she used different colored markers and circled the words after she said them. I agree it is way too much to do in one sitting…either broken up over the day or on another day seems to work well. I think we will need some other ideas soon so I am looking forward to trying some of the other ones people suggested too! Thanks! Keep the ideas coming! :-)

Laura

says:

I love this idea! I cannot wait to see her excitement when I introduce this hungry little monster!

Lynda

says:

Love the ideas! We have used a few of these. We usually spread a “new knowledge lesson” (one where a new sound is being taught) over 3 days. I do an intro with the letter tiles on day 1, usually an activity on day 2 (like the flippers or games) and day 3 is another activity if there is one and finishing up. I then take the fluency sheet and break it up evenly over those 3 days as well. I highlight in 3 colors so my son can see he only has 1 color to do. I usually put the least amount from his fluency sheet on day 1 and the most on day 3.

Taura

says:

Thank you! This program has made learning simple, fun and effective!

Bethany

says:

Thanks for these tips! Although some days my daughter will work on the practice sheets with no problem, other days she dreads it… its a great way to add some variety! Thanks again! :)

Myko Mayer

says:

I used to, or rather my daughter used to, really hate practice sheets. But, an activity in AAR 2 or 3 inspired us. It was the one with a bunch of sheep with sentences on their backs. Each sheep said their phrase differently, sad, happy, scared, etc. It was hysterical.

Now, she loves our practice sheets, and so does her little sister who is approaching the end of AAR 1. First, I use stick figure drawings to illustrate rude, questioning, scared, happy, love struck, angry, worried, hopeful, etc faces. Next, I highlight the sentences to be practiced. Then, like charades, we randomly pick a sentence, my student reads it, and then hams it up for her audience. It’s so much fun. The results are noticeable, too! My older student reads like a little children’s librarian sometimes.

Our family thanks you for everything!

Kathy

says:

I love this dramatized version! Very creative and memorable I’m sure!!

Gail Shealy

says:

My son is 7 years old. He likes for me to write the words on the white board. He reads them randomly and I have to find them and erase them. It is fun for him to watch me try to find the words that he has read. Giving him the choice of which words to read, and making a game of finding them, has made this a fun exercise for us both.

Mary

says:

Making a word wall is a great idea. I have a small interactive whiteboard in my office and using ‘table’ in Word I was able to make a template in which the borders made a brick wall pattern. I type the word on the bricks, say them one at a time while my student circles them. Reversing the game in the way that you do is a great idea..

Kelly

says:

THANK YOU! The fluency practice is the hardest part for us. My daughter gets so frustrated with them. I am so excited to try some of these ideas with her. :)

Molly Ross

says:

My daughter enjoys earning a treat or privilege for completing each section.

Katie

says:

In case this is helpful for others:
After my kids finish reading a section, I read it. It seems to help them make sense of what they just read and gives them confidence to keep reading. It also gives them an example of fluent reading (on the sentence practice) and intonation. It has skyrocketed our success with AAR and decreased tears along the way!!

Karen

says:

We have cut up the practice sheets and hidden them around the room. When you find a part, you read it before finding the next part. Lots of fun!!!

Karen Henry

says:

When using AAR Level 1, I needed to break up the lesson that entailed a practicce sheet. Otherwise the lesson became to overwhelming and long. What I did to make the sheets fun was to add a snack during the practice sheet lesson or “practice sheet day” as we call it. We made popcorn, or munched on trail mix, granola bars, or fruit snacks on “practice sheet day”. I placed the snack at the end of each line or chunk of words. Then made a big deal of excitement when she finished and got to eat her piece of snack. It worked well and we had fun. After we completed the practice sheet, I would read a story. While I read the story, we snuggled up, and she munched on the rest of her snack!

Ashleigh S

says:

I’ve found that breaking up the practice sheets made them less overwhelming for my daughter. I used three colored highlighters and used them to divide the page up. For example, I chose to highlight line one- blue, line two- yellow, line three- green and then repeat until the end of the sheet. Then my daughter was allowed to pick a color to read. That way she would get a little of all the different styles in the practice sheets, but not feel overwhelmed.

Kimberly

says:

My kids love using Green, Yellow, and Red sticker dots. I use green for “go” (i.e., start here). I use Red for Stop – I put it where I expect them to stop. If they go all out and get to the yellow (it was the only other smiley sticker I had that day), which is further than the red dot they get something special.

I’m for sure going to do the numbering lines and rolling a die. My daughter almost always counts the lines and letters in the words before reading them. She’ll love that addition of math to her reading time. :)

Andrea

says:

love the green for go and red for stop

Samantha

says:

Can’t wait to feed our monster and use the highlighter. Loved this post of ideas to switch it up. We have been covering part of the paper and using a sticker after each section is complete. On sheets we have struggled with we have used the tiles and I have given chocolate chips or marshmallow as needed!

Marie Rippel

says:

Samantha, I’m glad that these ideas have been helpful to you, and chocolate is always good to have on hand as well. :)

Sasha

says:

This has been so timely, we also are struggling through the sheets, one with Lesson 12 and one with 22. These tips are practical, helpful, and easy to implement. I love everyone else’s suggestions too. Thanks to you and everyone who commented their succinct ideas!

Sasha, I’m so thankful that this blog post helped you. I love hearing the additional tips and ideas that everyone has for using practice sheets. What a wealth of information!

SF

says:

My son and I were stumbling through lesson 22 (ending blends) in AAR1. He was having a lot of trouble with them – the practice groupings are by consonant blends, but he was keeping the whole word family, including the vowel. I started spelling out each practice word with the letter tiles to show him which letters stayed and which ones changed. He not only got the idea, he loved it! We did about 3/4 of the fluency pages that way; we only switched back for the sentences. Thank you for such a great program!

Merry

says:

Great work, SF! Blends can be really tricky for some kids, and you handled this well. So glad you and your son are enjoying the program!

Mars Araiza

says:

Awesome Idea. Definitely will use it.

Ellie

says:

Some days, I pencil in numbers 1-6 along the sides of the different sections of one of the practice sheets. Then my son rolls a die. He reads the section that corresponds to the number on the die. For each section he completes, he gets a chocolate chip or a skittle, etc. So he has the “control” of whether he eats six treats or only 2 or 3, depending on how much reading he is willing to do. (He has always gone for six!) We don’t complete all the pages of the Practice Sheets this way, but it helps break up the monotony.

Kathy

says:

Love this! The pot of “gold” at the end of the reading!

Andrea

says:

great idea with dice and candy – I think my 6 year old will love this option

Kara

says:

These are fabulous tips and ideas! Thank you for the helpful free downloads. It is one more things that set AAR and AAS apart.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Kara! :)

Cherie

says:

My grandkids that I teach have not liked the fluency sheets either. Both are dyslexic. I decided to retype them
making the words a little larger type. I then cut them in sections with 3-4 rows each section. I labeled them by lesson and group number. I hand them a section or two and have them practice. After 3 practices on different days I let the see if they can pass that section. They have to get every word correct to pass. They like trying to pass the sections. Being dyslexic I think it is important for them to pass the words, because they will change the vowels, ending , add a sound, etc. Typical dyslexic problems. I also, typed all the phrases and all the sentences in groups together. They would read the phrases and then just memorize what they said an repeat it for the sentence and just say it and not really read it.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

Cherie, you are doing such a good job with your grandkids! I love how you are adapting the fluency sheets for their particular needs.

Mary

says:

I have just asked permission to retype phrases and sentences for one of my students who is autistic. I have been given photographs of him on holidays so I type one sentence about him using vocabulary that he is learning or I include words like ‘dinosaur’ which have such an interesting shape that he can whole word recognise/read easily if I teach it first. I add two pictures or photographs per page of five or six sentences or phrases.. I try not to l let him see the pictures until he has read the sentences or phrases. Then I give him a highlighter pen to draw a line from the pictures to the correct sentences or phrases.

These are all great suggestions as each child needs a different motivator–and even those differ from day to day for a given child! I think Choice–no matter how trivial–is the most reliable technique for motivating children.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

Good point! Choice is a great motivator.

Always love seeing new ideas that will help my kiddos!

Ginger

says:

Thanks for these suggestions!! We are in level 2 and I’ve done the “breaking up” tip using white paper so that only one sections is showing (or even folding the practice sheet), the alternating reading lines, as well as the tip for indicating the beginning and end with colored dots.

For the end of level 1 we ended up doing two days per lesson with fluency sheets – doing all but the fluency sheets of the lesson on the first day and the fluency sheet the next day.

I absolutely LOVE the monster idea and the highlighter to mark progress! Can’t wait to try those!

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

Folding the practice sheet is another good idea! I hope the monster and the highlighter ideas go over well in your household, Ginger!

Emily Woodall

says:

Fluency practice had become a chore in our home. My dyslexic 8-year-old daughter would break down in tears anytime I pulled out a practice sheet. A couple of strategies that helped for us is using colored highlighters to color code each line. I can then ask her to read blue lines during one practice session, green lines another time and orange lines another time. Also, my husband now snuggles up with our kids and practices fluency with them. They love one-on-one time with daddy. It is even more effective for us if we do this at bedtime. The kids think they are getting to “stay up late” by practicing their reading. lol

Kathy

says:

Now THAT is precious! I like the strategy of creating a “treat” out of doing reading practice — and getting Dad involved! Fabulous!

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

Wonderful ideas, Emily! Thanks for taking the time to share with us!

Steph T

says:

We will sometimes play “popcorn” with the practice sheets, reading the words in a completely random order (not including the practice sheets with sentences). We might miss a few words this way, but we get through the sheet with far less grumbling and complaining. Plus, I can pick out words that I know my student needs to practice reading most.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

What a great idea, Steph! I could see popping some real popcorn for a extra special treat once in a while, too! Thanks for sharing!

Liza

says:

Thank you for all the effort to help teaching spelling and reading a little easier. May God prosper the works of your hands.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Liza! I appreciate your kind words!

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