3rd Grade Spiral Literacy Practice

Do you have third graders who are struggling with reading? There are so many literacy skills related to reading success for Grade 3 students! This post gives practical tips on the do’s and don’t of using 3rd Grade spiral literacy practice in your classroom for all students. Get ready to help your third graders grow stronger with reading.

Plus, you can grab some FREE 3rd Grade literacy printables that can be used with any reading curriculum.

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What is Spiral Review?


Third graders need to develop several skills to become proficient readers.

The main categories for these reading skills are:

  • Decoding
  • Fluency
  • Vocabulary and Word Recognition
  • Comprehension

Even though many of these skills should be mastered in 1st and 2nd grade, upper elementary teachers must be prepared when they aren’t.

This is where spiraled review comes to the rescue!

3rd grade spiral literacy practice allows students to have on-going review to target necessary reading skills.

When you visualize a spiral ๐ŸŒ€ , it shows an image going round and round. This depiction also summarizes how students get on-going practice with literacy concepts they have already learned.


3rd Grade Spiral Literacy Practice Gone Wrong!


Although this sounds like a great way to help struggling readers, it has some potential downsides.

First off, using spiraled literacy should not feel like daily, monotonous drill practice.

Schools that require a certain amount of spiraled review each day run the risk of focusing more on time rather than quality of time spent.

In addition to this, spiral literacy practice benefits all third graders!


Guided reading groups for intervention practice give attention to the kids that need it most.

However, all Grade 3 kids need to retain the reading growth they have already achieved.

This allows them to transition smoothly from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.”

And finally, spiral review goes wrong when it lasts longer than 10-15 minutes per session. Unless you are using a game-style activity, students will burn out from daily lengthy worksheet practice.

Therefore, Keep–It–Simple–Sweetie! ๐Ÿ’‹ (K.I.S.S)

Now, let’s dive deeper into ways you can effectively implement spiraled activities into your 3rd grade classroom.

Incorporate Spiral Review into Your Morning Routine


The most practical way to hit the ground running with review happens at the beginning of each school day.

Once you’ve spent time community-building with students for social-emotional connection, you can assign quick 3rd grade spiral literacy practice as morning work.


An example of this would be these 3rd Grade Literacy Builder Worksheets. They can be used with any reading curriculum, and here are some of the skills they focus on:

  • Phonics review
  • Spelling rules
  • Rhyming words
  • Defining words in context
  • Finding the main idea
  • Homophones
  • Inferencing
  • Poetry practice
  • Synonyms & Antonyms
  • Context clues…AND MORE!


Using activities specifically designed for spiral review ensures that third graders consistently revisit much needed reading and language concepts.

Plus, having worksheets that require no extra prep means you get to save time on lesson planning!

Not only this, but each worksheet has up to 5 standards-packed literacy review sections that can be completed quickly.


Include Hands-On Literacy Activities


The second thing for you to know about 3rd grade spiral literacy activities is that they can be hands-on.

Worksheets offer interesting and needed review opportunities. However, spiral review includes engaging tactile work also.

For instance, identifying homonyms in sentences influences comprehension in a major way.

3rd Grade readers need on-going exercises to tell the difference between homophones and homographs, along with knowing what the different words mean.

So, you can give students a homophone matching card game or a homophones goldfish game for additional practice.

A spiral language review like this works well as a 3rd grade literacy center or word work game that the entire class completes together.

But How Can Games Be Spiraled Review?


If you are used to spiraled literacy review in the form of worksheets, it can be challenging to embrace game-based learning as rigorous review.

Taking the homophones game ideas from above; make it an on-going monthly exercise that aligns to the season.

This does two important things for students:

  1. Allow them to revisit identifying and applying homophones.
  2. Makes it extra interesting since it relates to the season or time of year.
This Homonym Hearts activity is an example of a spiral literacy activity that is seasonal for 3rd graders. It can be purchased by clicking the image or clicking HERE.


But don’t think you only have to do this with homophones and homographs!

Most reading, language, or grammar skills also work as hands-on 3rd grade spiral literacy practice.

Not only that, but combining hands-on activities with 3rd grade ELA worksheets packs a combo punch of goodness for your kiddos!

Assign Literacy Homework that Offers Spiral Practice


Does spiraled homework lead to academic success for students? This big question inspired Duke Professor Harris Cooper to conduct studies in order to find the answer.

And the results? YES, it does.

However, there was one major caveat to these results: the amount of time spent on homework needs to be appropriate based on age and grade level.

Grade 3 students should not have more than 20-30 minutes of homework.

Due to this, I strongly recommend teachers use spiral literacy homework that can be completed around 10 minutes a few nights per week.

This additional practice gives Grade 3 students that small extra boost towards reading success.


Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Introduce Spiraled Literacy Review to Students

Now that we’ve looked at ways to implement 3rd grade spiral literacy practice in your classroom, let’s look at some steps to introducing it.

  1. As the name suggests, any activity you use needs to be review. You want to practice skills your students have already learned. So, the first step is to take assessments on what your 3rd graders know.

    If you already have your students’ standardized test results, use the data from those to lesson plan your spiral review.
  2. Then complete the first sheet or game with students. This allows you to model your expectations and show students how it’s done.
  3. Continue to monitor their progress, as you increase the challenge level slightly each week/ month/ grading period.

    Scaffolding the challenge in this way keeps students motivated to improve as they review.


These are the basic steps to having spiraled practice with literacy. Put these steps on repeat throughout the school year and you will be amazed at how much your students retain!

If you need specific strategies to help struggling readers, these blog posts have several tips for you:


How is Spiral Literacy Review Different from Daily Grammar Practice?


Since ELA includes reading, writing, language skills, and grammar–it feels overwhelming trying to include daily practice for all of it.

Just to be clear, literacy includes grammar, but they are not synonyms.

Daily grammar practice benefits 3rd graders just like spiral literacy review. Yet, the major difference is that literacy for Grade 3 should strengthen these reading skills:

  • Decoding–Phonemic Awareness
  • Fluency
  • Vocabulary and Word Recognition
  • Comprehension

Remember these from earlier? They are the essential ingredients to reading success.

Whereas grammar focuses on things like punctuation, spelling, and capitalization rules.

If your spiraled curriculum does not include all of the reading skills or any grammar practice, then supplement with standards-aligned worksheets or literacy centers like the ones mentioned above.

How Do Fit All This Into My Literacy Block?


Trying to complete all of these activities every day stresses out teachers and students! So, here’s the good news: you DON’T have to do it all every single day.

You also do not have to cram every activity into your literacy block, especially if you teach in a self-contained 3rd grade classroom.

For example, completing spiral worksheets for morning work or assigning them as homework counts.

Having engaging literacy practice during small group stations or guided reading also counts.

In addition to this, you can combine Math and Literacy to give students even more practice with both subject areas.

The books on this list offer great examples of math picture books for 3rd grade readers.

the best math aloud books


Free 3rd Grade Spiral Literacy Practice


In closing, as you get the hang of spiral learning in your classroom, you will see so many benefits for how it impacts reading.

Be sure to grab these free printables that can be used with reading curriculum.

Tanya G. Marshall The Butterfly Teacher Transforming Learning for all students

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