So you’re looking for materials for your therapy sessions, and you’re coming up blank…again?! You don’t want to spend $6 on another therapy activity, and you can’t find anything engaging enough in your therapy cabinet.
Good news, though! You can find thousands of FREE high-interest reading passages in a matter of seconds.
Before we start exploring the options, here are some of the reasons why I love using reading passages in therapy:
- They’re a great way to engage students.
- Reading passages are also an easy way to implement curriculum-based therapy.
- You can use them to target a variety of goals (like grammar and vocabulary).
Drum roll, please… 🙂 Here are five of my favorite sites!
ReadWorks offers articles for a variety of topics (e.g., social studies, science, and literacy). They cover kindergarten through 12th grade.
They have a sidebar search (like NewsELA), which allows you to find articles by grade.
Once you open an article, you can view details about the text (e.g., reading level, vocabulary words, Common Core State Standards). Not all articles have the same features, but here are some features that ReadWorks offers:
- Audio versions of the article (“human voice audio”)
- The ability to modify the level of the text (they call this StepReads)
- Vocabulary pages (with leveled definitions, pictures, and examples)
- Question pages (with multiple choice and open-ended questions)
ReadWorks also lets you save articles and assign them to students (for free!). It’s also really easy to print out the articles, vocabulary targets, and question pages.
You do have to login to access the full article, but you can search for articles without logging in.
NewsELA has a variety of articles on a number of topics (e.g., arts, culture, health, history, science, sports, opinion pieces, and MORE!). They even have articles on dream jobs (how cool is that?!). They also offer some articles in Spanish. They cover kindergarten through 12th grade.
As you can see in the screenshot above, NewsELA also has a nifty search sidebar that lets you filter by grade, reading skill, language, and more.
While you’re reading an article, you have the ability to adjust the reading level, to highlight and annotate text, to complete vocabulary activities, and to take a quiz.
You can also create Text Sets (which allows you to save articles and share the link). This would be especially great if you’re implementing curriculum-based therapy. The teachers might be using Text Sets to keep track of the articles they want to read with their class.
They also have a paid “PRO” version. The allows you to assign articles to students, to track progress (e.g., quiz scores), and to access teacher created resources (to pair with the texts).
Note: You do have to login to access the articles.
Wonderopolis is PERFECT for those “why” students–the ones who are constantly asking, “Why?”
The passages include some nifty features. Students can listen to the passage being read aloud. (The voice is robotic, but it could work well as an independent activity!) They highlight key vocabulary words and included assessments for vocabulary and comprehension. There are extension activity/discussion ideas at the end of the passages.
Students are also able to submit their own questions (and vote on other students’ questions), which is pretty neat!
You can find companion activity ideas on their other site (Wonder Ground). These are created by teachers, but many of the ideas would pair well with a literacy-based approach to therapy.
They also offer Camp Wonderopolis. It is a “free online learning destination [that] is full of fun, interactive STEM- and literacy-building topics boosted by Maker experiments!”
Note: You don’t have to login to access the articles!
TweenTribune includes articles for kindergarten through 12th grade. They search for relevant articles on the web and then modify them for a variety of Lexile levels. As you can see in the screenshot above, it’s easy to select articles based on Lexile levels.
You can create a teacher account and add students to your “class.” You can view their quiz scores and comments from your account.
They offer teacher resources on the site, as well. Great for extension activities!
There are quite a few advertisements on the site, which might distract students if you want to read the article from the browser. The advertisements don’t show up in print view, which makes prep easy!
You don’t have to login to view the articles, but you do have to login to access the quizzes.
CommonLit offers some MEATY texts for 5th through 12th graders. There are a wide range of texts (including author studies, thematic units, informational units, and book pairings).
CommonLit also has a sidebar search feature, which makes it easy to find articles by grade, theme, genre, literary devices (e.g., figurative language), and Common Core State Standards.
They have some awesome features in the browser. So many options here!
- They have numbers next to key vocabulary words (Tier 2 and Tier 3).
- They have clickable bubbles in the text for comprehension questions. This would be perfect for students working on citing the text when answering questions.
- They include higher level/analysis questions in the “Assessment” and “Discussion” sections.
- There is a bar on the top right with options to read the text aloud (with simultaneous highlighting of words being read), to translate to Spanish, to define vocabulary words, and to highlight text.
- There is a bar on the very top that lets you find related articles AND a parent guide.
They have a “Download PDF” option, which includes the article (and annotations for vocabulary words), text-based questions, and discussion questions.
You don’t have to login to access the texts/features. You do have to login to access the teacher guides. (A teacher account is FREE and allows you to assign texts, review student work, and more!)
If you work with younger students and are feeling a little jealous, it sounds like they are working on adding texts for 3rd and 4th grade students, as well!
The Final Verdict
These are all amazing FREE resources for us to use in therapy. They all include quality content that is bound to keep your students engaged.
All of the articles include nice photos, which is perfect for pre-reading and/or extension activities.
A few questions to ask yourself when picking your “go-to” resource…
- What ages do you work with?
- Are your teachers using any of these tools?
- Do you have any “must-have” tools (e.g., annotate/highlight text, vocabulary recommendations, reading level modification, skill search, Spanish articles)?
Let us know in the comments below! Which site is your favorite for free reading passages?