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Tutor Tip of the Month: Reading and Writing Ideas

(from A Literacy Tutor’s Survival Guide, by Sandra Huehn and Philip Fernandez through Students for Literacy at Frontier College, the University of Toronto)

You can create a number of meaningful reading materials with your student by using the language experience approach, however it is important that you do a variety of activities with your student.

Choose reading materials and activities that are relevant to your student but are not too lengthy or complicated. Connect reading and writing with the activities that your student does every day. Your student will learn the best when she is engaged in a literacy activity that is meaningful to her. Use all of your student's senses. Talk about it, read about it, do it!

Music and Poetry

  • Bring music lyrics to read - write lyrics for a song.
  • Rap and read - talk about music.
  • Read and write poetry.
  • Record each other reading and listen as you read the words.


  • Read junk mail and catalogues.
  • Send post cards, cartoons, newspaper clippings to your student.
  • Write a letter to a sports figure, music personality, or politician.

Life Skills

  • Order from a menu.
  • Read shopping flyers.
  • Create a shopping list.
  • Read a recipe.
  • Shop together for groceries.
  • Read brand names, cooking instructions and ingredients.
  • Read the newspaper, sports section, comics, news, letters to the editor.
  • Read the yellow pages.
  • Fill out job applications.
  • Compile a personal address/telephone book.

Movies and Television

  • See the movie/read the book.
  • Role play a story.
  • Read a TV guide, select a program, watch, then critically discuss the program.
  • Meet with others to discuss books, magazines, movies, music, etc.

Hobbies, Interests, and Games

  • Play word games: scrabble, boggle, hangman, concentration, wheel of fortune, word chains, crossword puzzles, word search.
  • Play 20 questions on paper.
  • Make a list of crafts to make, list materials needed and steps to take.
  • Play computer games.
  • Read magazines including comic books.
  • Collect and read sports cards.
  • Write your own stories.
  • Keep a journal.
  • Read short stories.
  • Read children's stories. (Use children's books only if your student has the opportunity to read to a child.)

Street Literacy

  • Go for a walk. Read street and store signs.
  • Read city maps and subway maps.
  • Read signs in the room.
  • Draw a map of the neighbourhood, highlighting important places.
  • Visit the library and pick books for reading together.
  • Visit a used bookstore or library.

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