Purpose:  to give learners practice phonics and spelling. 

Preparation Time:  10 minutes

Materials Needed:  paper or card stock to make letter tiles.

Preparation: cut paper into 1 x 1 inch cards. You will need enough for each student to have 8 cards.


a black and white picture story showing a woman with a stressful life

Purpose:  to give learners practice identifying the main idea and retelling key details

Preparation Time:  15 minutes

Materials Needed:  sets of picture stories, cut apart


a detective in a green coat and hat smoking a pipe and looking at a question mark through a magnifying glass

Purpose:  to help learners begin to use evidence from a text to make inferences and support answers

Preparation Time:  10 minutes

Materials Needed:  A picture, sets of questions


What was the highlight of your VISTA service with the Minnesota Literacy Council? 
​The ultimate highlight of my service was when I became a member of the Council for Black Male Success at the age of 19. I was a part of the council that was allocated 3 million dollars for 3 years to help support African American males ages 11-32 who reside in St. Paul.

clipart figure speaking through an orange bullhorn

To learn more about the I-We-You method for giving directions, visit the Teacher Training Toolkit at

a silver stopwatch

Purpose:  to assist learners in developing their verbal summarizing skills.

Preparation Time:  None

Materials Needed:  None


Purpose:  When faced with a writing assignment, students, especially English Language Learners, need time to generate ideas and vocabulary. Guiding students through the following steps will help them create writing that is richer than if they just sat down and started write.  

Preparation Time:  None

Materials Needed:  None


1. Provide  topic for the writing assignment.

2. Give them 2-3 minutes to sit and THINK about what they are going to write.

Bridges to Benefits is a great resource for tutors who are helping students look for benefits and services in the community.

The key feature of the site is a tool that will help assess eligibility for public support programs (food, housing, etc.). An individual answers a few questions about income and family structure and the screening tool will offer some POSSIBLE benefits and services. Individuals will need to then follow-up with programs directly.

the numbers one, two, and three in colored blocks

Purpose:  Free speaking can be challenging for learners of all levels. This activity helps learners to develop comfort with speaking for longer periods, and to improve their ability to add details and information to a story.

Preparation Time:  None

Materials Needed:  None


hand holding a green and white flyswatter against a white background

This activity is a staff and volunteer favorite!


Purpose:  to help learners build their skimming and sight word recognition skills

Preparation Time:  5 minutes

Materials Needed:  two flyswatters




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