Hierarchy of Skills from K-5

Click Here for K-5 Foundational Skills

This resource provides the English Language Arts standards for reading foundational skills for grades kindergarten to 5th grade.

Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic Awareness...

*is necessary for using alphabetic code

*predicts future outcomes in reading

*is vital for development of vocabulary and word awareness (Moats & Tolman, 2009)

Foundational Skills of Understanding

Understand spoken words, syllables, and sounds

1. Kindergarten

*Recognize and produce rhyming words

*Blending and segmenting syllables in spoken words

*Isolate and pronounce each sound in CVC words

*Add or replace individual sounds in one-syllable words

2. First Grade

*Differentiate long from short vowel sounds in spoken one-syllable words

*Orally blend sounds in one-syllable words

*Isolate and pronounce sounds in spoken one-syllable words

*Segment spoken one-syllable words into full sequence of individual sounds

(Common Core State Standards, 2015)

Activities Towards Mastering Skills

  1. Detecting rhymes – find pairs of pictures that rhyme
  2. Segmenting – use objects to count words in a simple sentence
  3. Blend syllables into words – use blocks to represent syllables in a word moving them closer together while blending the syllables faster until word and blocks are connected
  4. Delete syllables from words – break a larger word into a smaller word cutting up Play-Doh into pieces representing syllables

(Phonological Awareness, 2013)

For Phonemic Awareness activity details, visit:

Decoding/Word Recognition

Decoding and word recognition require foundation skills of understanding (Common Core State Standards, 2015). This requires the student to have a fundamental insight of letters and sounds forming words in a systematic way. The student must follow words from left to right, top to bottom, and page by page with an understanding that spoken words are represented in written language. Spoken words are represented in written language by sequences of letters and are separated by spaces in print. With decoding and word recognition, students must also grasp there are upper and lowercase letters and be able to recognize the difference in the two.

Less skilled readers rely on context and guess, whereas the more skilled reader processes words automatically. Less skilled readers read slowly and with effort, whereas the more skilled reader looks for known word parts or patterns in unfamiliar words. A less skilled reader focus’ on decoding instead of comprehension and skips over challenging words. They do not consciously monitor their reading to ensure it makes sense. A more skilled reader uses context to determine the pronunciation and meaning of an unknown word.

To master reading, students must demonstrate knowledge and understanding of one to one letter sounds and of long and short vowel sounds. Common sight words must be familiar, as well as understanding the relationships among simple and complex words. To master reading, there must be a repertoire of word solving strategies, and the student must be able to use references, resources, and be able to proofread for accuracy (Common Core State Standards, 2015).

For ideas on Word Recognition Games, check out this link:


1. Model Fluent Reading

Provide students with many opportunities to read the same passage orally several times (Texas Education Agency, 2002).

2. Student-adult Reading

The student reads one-on-one with an adult (teacher, parent, classroom aide, or tutor). The adult reads text first, providing student with a model of fluent reading. Then student reads the same passage to the adult with adult providing assistance and encouragement. The student rereads the passage until reading is fluent. This should take approximately three to four re-readings (Texas Education Agency, 2002).

3. Choral reading

Students read in unison as a group with you (or fluent adult reader). All students are able to see the same text that you are reading. They can follow along in the book or from a projected text using Smartboard. Use a text that is not too long and that is at the independent reading level of most students. Patterned or predictable books are particularly useful for choral reading, because their repetitious style invites students to join in. Begin by reading the book aloud as you model fluent reading. Then reread the book and invite students to join in as they recognize the words you are reading. Continue rereading the book, encouraging students to read along as they are able. Students should read the book with you three to five times total (though not necessarily on the same day). At this time, students should be able to read the text independently (Texas Education Agency, 2002).

4. Tape-assisted reading

Students read along in their books as they hear a fluent reader read the book on an audio version. The audio should not have sound effects or music. For the first reading, students should follow along with the tape, pointing to each word in her or his book as the reader reads it (active reading). Next, the student should try to read aloud along with the tape. Reading along with the tape should continue until the student is able to read the book independently, without the support of the tape (Texas Education Agency, 2002).

5. Partner reading

Paired students take turns reading aloud to each other. For partner reading, more fluent readers can be paired with less fluent readers. The stronger reader reads a paragraph or page first, providing a model of fluent reading. Then the less fluent reader reads the same text aloud. The stronger student gives help with word recognition and provides feedback and encouragement to the less fluent partner. The less fluent partner rereads the passage until he or she can read it independently. Partner reading need not be done with a more and less fluent reader. In another form of partner reading, children who read at the same level are paired to reread a story that they have received instruction on during a teacher-guided part of the lesson. Two readers of equal ability can practice rereading after hearing the teacher read the passage (Texas Education Agency, 2002).

6. Try a Reader’s Theater in Class

Have students rehearse and perform a play for peers or others. They read scripts derived from books rich in dialogue. Students play characters who speak lines or they narrate necessary background information. Provides readers with a legitimate reason to re-read text and to practice fluency. Readers' theatre promotes cooperative interaction with peers making reading more appealing (Texas Education Agency, 2002).

For more ideas on Fluency activities, check out this link:


Comprehension is the understanding and interpretation of what is read. To be able to accurately understand written material, one needs to be able to (1) decode what they read; (2) make connections between what they read and what they already know; and (3) think deeply about what they have read (, n. d.).


A prediction is an educated guess about something that will come later in the text. It is a simple but powerful way to help you connect what you know with what you are reading. Just as a detective looks for clues to solve a mystery, you can find clues in a text about future events and themes.

  • Use pictures and information about the story to guess what will happen next in the story


Questioning is a way of forming questions as you read in order to develop your understanding of the text. Questions can be about clarifying the meaning of a phrase or passage, exploring important themes, considering the author's technique, or learning more about something you find interesting.

  • Answer who, what, when, where, how and why questions about a story

  • State the main idea of a story or topic

  • Identify characters, settings, and events in a story


A summary is a brief explanation of the main ideas. It involves pausing to look back over the text and create a recap of what you have read.

  • Recite a familiar story

  • Identify the correct sequence of events in a story


Making a connection involves using information you already know (prior knowledge) to help understand what you are reading.

  • Relate events, characters, and actions in a story to specific life experiences

For strategies and activities that promote Comprehension, Click:


Created by Team B: Mary Jane Bautista, Tammy Goodlett, Kristi Peters, Stacey Van Dyke