Grade 1 Reading

Discover Grade 1 reading standards

Our Program

We know that helping our children to read confidently and fluently is one of the most important skills for them to learn as they begin Grade 1. As parents, it can be overwhelming to break down such a large skill into manageable, teachable chunks. That’s why we’ve compiled a short list of skills that your children will need to develop in first grade. We also give you some examples of activities that you can do to develop them. We hope that these explanations and activities will help your child become a confident reader.

Firstly, you should know that there are two main areas to tackle when teaching a young reader:

  • Word reading
  • Comprehension

Word Reading

Recognizing that letters on the page represent sounds that in turn make words is the key principle of phonics and early reading. In Grade 1, there are different elements to this that children will learn and develop throughout the year.

Practice Tip: Ask your child to sound out the syllables on everyday objects, such as the title of their breakfast cereal, road signs on the way to school, or even the words on the menu of their favorite restaurant.

Features of a sentence

Children need to be able to recognize the features of a sentence. The first word of a sentence begins with a capital letter and a sentence ends with end punctuation: period, question mark, or exclamation point.

Sounds within words

In Grade 1, children will practice their ability to hear, recognize, and manipulate the sounds within words. The following skills are all Grade 1 phonological awareness objectives.

1. HEARING the long and short vowel sounds in spoken words and being able to distinguish between the two.

long a sound - cake

short a sound - cat

2. BLENDING sounds to form single-syllable words.

/c/ /a/ /t/ ⇨ cat

3. ISOLATING the initial, medial, and end sounds in single-syllable words. This involves a child hearing a word and then identifying sounds according to their position within the word.

  • What is the first sound you hear in the word cat? /c/
  • What is the middle sound you hear in the word cat? /a/
  • What is the final sound you hear in the word cat? /t/

4. SEGMENTING single-syllable words into individual sounds.

  • The name Sam can be segmented into the sounds /s/ /a/ /m/.

Practice Tip: Ask your child to select a word from Dolch sight word list and then read it aloud to them. Now ask them to work through the four concepts (HEARING, BLENDING, ISOLATING, SEGMENTING) focusing on the chosen word.


In Grade 1, children will learn the sound and spelling for common consonant digraphs, such as those listed here.

  • ch
  • sh
  • th
  • ph
  • wh

They will use their knowledge of phonics to decode single-syllable words similar to these examples.

  • pit
  • nap
  • Tim
  • did
  • gap
  • pot

Children will learn the different vowel teams that represent long vowel sounds. The words below all have different spellings of the long a sound.

  • cake
  • train
  • day
  • eight
  • great

In Grade 1, children will be taught to identify syllables. Understanding syllables can help children to decode longer words, such as pocket and sunset which have two syllables.

They will also be taught to read words with inflectional endings and to read common irregularly spelled words.

Inflectional endings:

  • s | trees
  • es | boxes
  • ing | running
  • ed | cooked

Practice Tip: Ask your children to identify inflectional endings to words when reading sentences or short paragraphs. This lesson on asks children to read a short text and click on all the words that end with -ing.


Children need to be able to read a grade-appropriate text well enough to support comprehension. Once they are able to read words confidently, your child will be able to move on to the higher level skill of understanding what they mean within sentences and paragraphs.

Here are 5 things you can do to help your child become a confident and fluent reader:

  1. Read to your children and model what a fluent reader sounds like.
  2. Ask your children to read a sentence aloud and then repeat it 3 more times.
  3. Promote daily reading time. Challenge your children to read for 30-minutes per day.
  4. Use a ruler on the page to focus your child’s attention to one line of text.
  5. Practice sight words (Dolch word list mentioned above) regularly until they are able to recognize them instantly.


Children will read both narrative and informative texts at Grade 1 level. They will practice asking and answering questions about a given text to show comprehension. Where relevant, this may include questions about describing characters and settings within a story or describing the connection between two pieces of information. They’ll practice retelling stories in their own words and try to identify key details. Where appropriate they will compare texts on the same topic identifying similarities and differences.

Practice Tip: Cover up a word in a sentence and ask your children to guess what the missing word is based on the context. You can use the Penguin Paragraphs challenge on to help with this skill. In this challenge children need to read and comprehend the text to identify where the missing words should be placed.

How Night Zookeeper can help

When your child uses they’ll experience a wide range of reading activities. They will practice their understanding of words and phrases by following instructions and answering comprehension quiz questions. We have audio support for young readers so they can hear words and sentences read aloud as they follow along.

Related Articles

Grade 1 Grammar

Grade 1 Writing

Grade 1 Spelling

Grade 1 Punctuation

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