Try These 3 Reading Activities for Special Education Students

try these 3 reading activities for special education students

How Do You Accommodate Students with Disabilities in Reading?

I have taught both elementary and high school and have worked with many students who have disabilities in reading, among other cognitive disabilities. The truth is: finding reading activities for special education students can be tough sometimes. I've noticed two main things about reading activities for my students and son during my many years as a special education teacher and special ed momma. First- reading comprehension activities are a MUST and it can be hard to find good, engaging activities to use to assess students' comprehension. Next, how do you know where to begin as a brand new teacher with students in the area of reading?

How do you accommodate students with disabilities in reading?

How to Assess Special Education Students in Reading

The first thing I always do at the beginning of the school year or when I get a new student on my caseload is assess their reading level. If the IEP states that the student is reading below a Level H (we use the Fountas and Pinnel Literacy System at my school), I created this quick Reading Assessment for my students with special needs. I typically use this at the elementary level. I like to use it at the beginning and end of the school year. Sometimes I do it per quarter if there is time.

With the Reading Assessment, you get:

  • original text for levels A-H
  • running records for each level
  • 2 different versions of a quiz for each story (one with picture supports; one without)
  • reading comprehension picture cards
how to assess special education students in reading

Reading Comprehension for Special Education

As I said above, students in special education typically always need to work more on their reading comprehension skills. Answering wh questions can be a hard skill for some students to grasp, especially students with Autism. In addition to working on reading comprehension, we need differentiated reading activities in this area to easily use for our different levels. This is where I like to use the Reading Comprehension WH Questions with Real Pictures.

My students are always able to comprehend easier and engage more when I use real pictures during lessons. With the Reading Comprehension WH Questions, I can plan to easily differentiate my groups with the three different levels. Students read through the passage three times and color a star for each time they read to work on fluency. Then they proceed to answer who, what, when, and where questions. I do why questions completely separately because it is a much harder skill.


reading comprehension for special education

ELA Task Boxes

Another favorite reading activity to use in my special education classroom is ELA Task Boxes. I might be slightly biased and a tad obsessed with making task boxes for my classroom! The great thing about them is they can be used at any age and they always help to increase independence in students. I use them in so many different ways throughout the day. Sometimes I pull ELA task boxes for reading in small groups for a more hands on approach. Sometimes, we rotate them into our independent work stations. Other times we have even used them for morning work or early finishers.

Never tried task boxes? Grab 4 FREE task boxes here!


ELA Task Boxes

What are some of your favorite reading activities for special education students?

I am a High School, self-contained Autism teacher from Central New York, who is passionate about individualizing student learning. I am a mommy of three, lover of all things Disney, married to my best friend and addicted to chocolate!! I hope that you find great ideas and inspiration here, so welcome!!

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