Pre-A Reading Activities & Centers For Special Ed

Finding age-appropriate activities for students of all ages who are still at the Pre-A reading level can be challenging. Here are 15 different ways to set up activities and practice for special education students assessed at the Pre-A or aa reading level.

Name Activities for pre-a reading students

Being able to recognize, spell and write are essential life skills. Students need to be able to recognize their names in print. They need to be able to create their name either by writing, sequencing letters, using AAC, etc. Here are ways to work on these reading pre-requisite skills.

  • Name puzzles: create tasks where students have to put their names together correctly. This can be done with or without a model depending on the student’s level.
  • Name tracing: make it fun and use markers, finger paint, shaving cream, etc. to build in sensory elements and fun.
  • Find your name games like memory: have students play memory with the names of the students in the class or group. You can also expand it as students make progress by including last names.
  • Building peer names: have students at the Pre-A reading level practice identifying and building peer names. You can also do this during morning meeting to target the skill across the day.
Pre-A reading center for practicing building peer names.

letter activities

Students at the Pre-A or aa reading level need a high level of repetition and practice with letters. Pre-A readers have a limited understanding of letters so focus your reading centers on letters.

  • Sorting letters: having students sort letters by different features draws their attention to how the letters are similar and different.
  • Letter matching: make it fun by hiding the letters to match in sensory bins, around the room, etc. This matching task again draws the student’s focus to noticing how the letters are the same or different.
  • Letter sequencing: have students practice putting the letters in order, filling in missing letters, etc.
Pre-A reading activity or center to practice sequencing the letters of the alphabet
This is a great chance to build in different positions and movements!
  • Alphabet tracing: This is a great way to build in some writing skills while helping students notice the differences in letters. Research suggests that students at the Pre-A reading level benefit from tracing the alphabet every day. That’s why we added an alphabet tracing book to the letters and letter sounds unit.

interacting with text in Pre-a centers

Students at the Pre-A reading level should also be working with and interacting with text and not just single letters and names.

  • Read to self: students can look at books, tell stories from the pictures, retell the story that they’ve heard before or use interactive books during independent reading times. They need to start thinking of themselves as readers.
  • Listening center with books being read to the students: YouTube and sites like Epic have many books that can be read to the student. Check out this list of free reading resources.
  • Notice the pictures: Have students match, point to, or label the pictures in the books. Help students at the Pre-A reading level make the connections between the text and the pictures. For example, if the student points to or labels the cat picture, point to the word cat and label the beginning letter and sound.
  • Practice pointing to words: Model pointing to words as you read with big books or one on one with students. Point out that words have spaces between them and we read them one by one.

Add sensory or movement to pre-a reading activities

The more hands-on and engaging the Pre-A reading activity is, the more the students will practice. Adding in sensory components or movement is a great way to naturally keep students engaged and on task.

  • Find the letter game: For this game, we hide letters around the room or center area. Show students a letter and have them go find the letter. You can make this game more challenging by adding in multiple letters, using upper and lowercase letters, etc.
  • Sensory bin: Have students find letter cards or magnetic letters in a sensory bin and then match the letters to an alphabet chart or sequence the letters. This is an easy way to build incorporate your theme into Pre-A reading activities.
  • Alphabet playdoh mats: Have students use playdoh to practice forming letters of the alphabet or their name.
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