Second graders using Essentials - Support activities for struggling readers

New resource for supporting struggling readers!

Download a table of extra support activities for young Essentials students who are beginning readers. The concepts introduced in these activities provide students the additional tools they need to read dozens of Foundations readers earlier than they would otherwise be able to, and the extra practice builds fluency and confidence. Provide additional practice and an entertaining Foundations reader with every Essentials lesson!

Who this is designed for, and why

We created this resource for a very specific need: to help teachers and parents provide extra support for young struggling readers who are too young for the texts in the Essentials Reader, but who are using our Essentials curriculum. These pullout activities are designed to bridge the gap when young developing readers are in a class or group that is using Essentials (generally recommended for 8 to adult) and would benefit from additional support and reading practice with more age-appropriate texts.

This approach is not the default recommendation for most second graders or most struggling readers:

  • For young struggling readers, we normally recommend Foundations. This includes all students in kindergarten and first grade, and it will generally be the best fit for second graders who struggle with reading as well. Many seven-year-olds and some eight-year-olds prefer the more playful style of Foundations lessons, and its phonics-controlled readers are fun, engaging, and age-appropriate for young kids.
  • For older struggling readers, use Essentials and The Essentials Reader and don't worry about supplementing with the activities in this chart. This applies to any student age nine and above, and most eight-year-olds. Essentials is an excellent and highly effective reading remediation curriculum for older students, and the texts in the Essentials Reader are age-appropriate and engaging for students at this age. The Foundations Readers, which are the focal point of these activities, will usually seem uninteresting and childish for an older child. The Essentials Reader was written specifically to meet the needs of older struggling readers. It provides phonics-controlled reading practice with vocabulary, sentence structure, and topics appropriate for their intellectual abilities and spoken English comprehension level.

If you have the opportunity to base your curriculum choice on the needs of a particular second grader who is struggling with reading, Foundations will almost always be the better fit. (Learn more: What's the difference between Foundations and Essentials?).

However, sometimes a class or homeschool family has to group children of different ages and abilities together, and it is for this situation that we created this resource.

In a second grade class with mostly strong readers who don't need phonics-controlled texts and are ready to put more focus on spelling, Essentials can be a great choice. However, the Essentials Reader will often be too challenging, especially for any struggling readers in the group. Even though children will be learning the phonics tools to sound out the words, the sentence structure and vocabulary will often be too advanced, and the topics may be harder to understand or less interesting for a young child.

In a multi-age homeschool setting, it is sometimes necessary to use one curriulum for multiple children to save time or money. A homeschool parent teaching a second grader who is struggling with reading along with several older siblings may choose Essentials as the best for the group as a whole even if Foundations would have been a better fit for the second grader.

If one of these scenarios describes your situation, these activities are for you!

How do I use it?

Teach Essentials to the class or group as a whole, using whichever spelling list is appropriate for the level of each student. For young struggling readers you will be using Level A. Consider excusing young struggling readers from the Grammar instruction if the concepts in this section are too abstract or overwhelming; focus on learning the phonograms and rules and using them in words.

Then, during the time you are working each Essentials lesson, provide additional instruction for the young struggling readers using the Pullout Group Activities in this chart, perhaps in two or three pullout group sessions of 20-30 minutes. In some lessons, you will be instructed to introduce a phonogram or rule that will not be covered until a bit later in Essentials; this is because the student will need this concept for the Foundations reader scheduled for this lesson or the next one. (Because the phonograms and spelling rules are introduced in a slightly different order in Foundations than in Essentials, the readers do not correlate directly between the two programs.)

In every lesson, you will practice the foundational skills the students need to build: knowledge of the phonograms, and the ability to sound out words and apply the phonograms and rules to read and spell them (which you will practice first through Spelling Analyis and then through reading the reader). And starting with Essentials Lesson 2, for every lesson you will see one or more Foundations readers for the child to read. When a reader is scheduled, this means that the student now has the tools to sound out every word in it successfully—truly reading it, with no sight word memorization or guessing from the pictures.

The last column of the chart lists lessons where any new concepts to be taught are covered in Essentials, as well as in Foundations and Sounding Out the Sight Words. If the parent or teacher leading the pullout reading group is not familiar with one of the concepts to be introduced in that lesson's pullout activities, any of the listed resources can be used to find more information.

Materials Needed

Besides the PDF of Pullout Group Activities, you'll need the following:

Why different reading practice for young struggling readers than for older struggling readers?

The foundational tools needed for successful reading are the same for everyone: ability to break words into individual sounds and blend individual sounds into whole words, and understanding of the way written letters represent speech sounds (the phonograms and spelling rules).

However, there is more to reading than decoding words, and these foundational tools are not the only factors in successful reading. A student's spoken vocabulary, spoken English comprehension level, prior knowledge of a subject, and level of interest in a subject all affect his or her ability to read and comprehend a text.

For example, compare the following excerpts, one from a Foundations C Reader and one from The Essentials Reader. These two texts come at about the same point in terms of phonics instruction. The same decoding tools are needed to read both. However, as you can see, they are at quite different levels of reading difficulty in other ways!


The most appropriate reading practice for a struggling reader will be both phonics controlled, so that the student has the tools to read it successfully, and appropriate in vocabulary, interests, and content for the intellectual abilities and spoken English level of the student.


Download the reading pullout group activities!

Second Grade classes using Essentials: Pullout group activities for struggling readers (PDF)


About Logic of English

The phonograms and spelling rules that explain the spelling of 98% of English words are taught in Logic of English curriculum and in Uncovering the Logic of English: A Common-Sense Approach to Reading, Spelling, and Literacy.

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