Literacy Lift Off

What is Literacy Lift Off

Literacy Lift Off is an intensive programme of reading and writing for a set number of weeks.


Children learn to read and write by reading and writing. This programme gives the children lots of opportunities to read books at their own level of competency and gradually lift the complexity of what they can do in both reading and writing.


Literacy Lift Off is usually taught in a particular class in 6-8 week blocks but as we are a small school it is taught on a continuous basis from senior infants to third class until November and from junior infants to second class for the remainder of the year. It is taught from Monday to Thursday.


Pre-test: a running record of each child’s reading ability to find an instructional reading level (90 to 95% accuracy: to establish an entry level to graded reading programme PM+)


  • Children organised into 6 groups of 5/6  according to their reading level attained.
  •  Teachers assigned to different station of literacy lesson (familiar reading, new reading, phonics, handwriting, visualisation and free-writing)
  • One person takes charge of marking the change of activity using a timer (5/6 mins)
  • Children rotate through each station.

Familiar Reading

Purpose: For enjoyment, fluency, comprehension and speed.

Every child has an opportunity to read each day. Do not interrupt the reading. As they are reading note what is going well and one or two things you want to draw the group’s attention to e.g.

  • A good self-correction.
  • Or something that didn’t sound right, look right or make sense .
  • Or a visual analysis

Word Work (Phonics)

  • Purpose: To show children how words work so that they can make a fast visual analysis of their reading.
  • Use magnetic letters to show children how words are composed of letters and sometimes bits that look the same and sound the same.
  • Elkonin boxes (initially cvc words, blends and initial consonant digraph)
  • Chunking words (segmentation: clapping out sounds etc., rhyming words)

    Words based on phonics being taught during the week in class.

Hand Writing

Purpose: The children will learn how write using correct letter formation:

We use the sky, grass and earth template so as to reinforce with the children where the letters begin, go through and end.

Free Writing

Purpose: The allow children to write freely about a certain topic without having to worry about correct spelling etc. This gives them confidence in their ability to write.

Children have unlined copies with a writing page for each day. Children write with pencils. They are encouraged to ‘have a go’ at  composing a story and have a go at writing it. The teacher models the activity when necessary.

New Book

Purpose: To allow daily practice in attempting to read new material. The child learns to use strategic activities to read new texts.

The teacher prepares the children for success by initiating discussion of the pictures and introducing them to any new vocabulary or unusual phrases in the book. The children are provided with opportunities to predict the plot and to connect and refer to personal experiences. As the children are reading the new text the teacher directs them to the most effective strategy to use at any given time. That might be:

  • A prompt to meaning e.g. Where are the children going?
  • A prompt from picture cues (look at the picture and question)
  • A prompt to visual information e.g. Cover the ‘ing’ or ‘can you see a bit

    you know.

  • A prompt to structure e.g. Predict how the phrase might end.
  • A prompt to read with expression (teacher models reading)

    If the child is to read for meaning she/he needs to read in a phrased and fluent manner and this should be encouraged at all times.

    The child needs to be encouraged to monitor his/her own reading and writing. They should know that when it doesn’t sound right, look right or make sense she needs to re-read and correct it. The children take home this book to read with their parents each night and it becomes the ‘familiar reading’ book for the following day.


Purpose: To aid children to visualise  what they see in a topic/ book/ sentence or paragraph.

Visualisation is a very important comprehension strategy in which the child tries to visualise a certain situation in a story. Here, the children draw a picture that they visualise based on a particular book/ paragraph/ sentence/ word.