Join the Spring Forward 25-Day Challenge!

daisies in flower can spring forward challenge

Are you counting down the days till summer break?

Who’s not, right?

With over-testing, kids’ spring fever, students who are not progressing as we hoped, and the arrival of warm, blue skies, we may be a tad less effective in our teaching in the last few weeks and days.

I know I’ve gotten too worn-down and taught with much less effort in May than I had in September.

I’m not alone am I?

A Spring Forward 25-Day Challenge

spring forward 25 day challenge


But we love our kids and the academic need is great, right?  I have an offer to help us all not slink into summer….

Rather, let’s join forces for a Spring Forward contest!

I know it’s actually not too late to see significant growth with your struggling readers before the school year ends.

And when you actually witness them growing each day, you will gain hope. You will add a little pep to your step.  You will actually look forward to the next day of school because you know your student(s) are going to progress Because. Of. Your. Instruction.


I’m not suggesting you work harder, or work longer. Rather, I will hold your hand with small, little steps every day so you will see success.

Each week, I’ll show you the counter-cultural activities–just a few–that accelerate all my readers. You can easily add one activity at a time till your cranking out life-changing lesson plans. I see it all the time!


If your students are higher than this plan, you can still use it as a general guide for what to add each day. I’ll offer more specifics for what you could do via email and Facebook live.

The Contest

Anyone can snag the freebies, learn the activities, and try some or all of the activities with their students.  Those who think they can make a big difference with the 10 to 30 days left in the school year can enter the Spring Forward contest.

I’m looking for a winner, or two, are you in?

To participate, select a struggling student or students to target for the rest of the school year. Download the Spring Forward PDF below and follow each day’s simple activity.  You can get direction in a few places:

  • in the Spring Forward PDF,
  • via emails from me, and
  • watching occasional Fb Lives on each activity.

THEN, when your school year ends, whether it’s next Friday or June 9, enter the brief story of how your student(s) progressed in the comments below.  I’ll pick winners based on the significance of the change.

First Prize: a 3-month subscription to the Reading Simplified Academy to discover our entire streamlined system that accelerates all students’ achievement (worth about $120)

Second Prize: 5 complete Sort It and Guided Reading packets for 5 different Advanced Phonics sounds (you pick the reading level)

All Commenters: one more Sort It and Guided Reading packet of the /ee/ sound (the /oa/ sound packet will be given away during the challenge)

Some of you are pumped!

But some of you are concerned it will be too much.  Look at the image above.  Notice how you only start 1 little activity for the first 2 days.  It’s baby steps.  But each step, each day, will add up to so much more than the sum of its parts.

I hope you’ll give it try!  Let’s not countdown till we escape into summer….rather let’s countdown how many more days we have to boost our struggling students’ reading before they leave us…  🙁

Who’s in? Please let us know so others can be encouraged!  Or, please ask any question in the comments below.

Learn more by following us on our Facebook page here.



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70 thoughts on “Join the Spring Forward 25-Day Challenge!

  1. We are just finishing testing. So I will be starting my kiddos on the challenge next week. I am super excited to have my plans done and at a new and exciting place for two students. I am going to begin a young student on week one-day one, another student will be starting at Monday of the 4th week. This a great step for this young reader and he is super motivated when he starts a new sound…

    • Thanks for sharing your plans, Marsha! So glad to hear the excitement!!! Woohoo! Let’s make this year have a strong finish!

      I imagine that the testing will give a useful baseline. Keep us informed…

  2. Great tips and lessons to help our struggling readers. I have two students that came in January they were non readers but I have applying your tips specially switched and that has help them tremendously !!! They are reading at level F !!! Thank you ?

    • Wow! That’s so awesome to move non-readers along so quickly, Maria! Thanks for sharing your great results!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing these AWESOME strategies. They really do work wonders! It’s funny how sometimes just tweaking things slightly makes a huge difference for our kids. Again, thank you!

    • Nancy, thanks so much for sharing your good feedback! Yes, just a few tweaks make all the difference! The only thing revolutionary is how few activities are needed to develop strong readers. Glad you’re part of the Challenge!

  4. I begin the spring challenge with two little girls who were going to be placed not promoted to first grade because they were not reading on the level to be considered successful for end of the year kindergarten. They both made enough progress to be promoted to first grade. I am continuing the challenge with them in summer school which is 16 days and should complete it. I am also using the challenge with another group of summer school children who I got from another class. I am trying “build it” with two little boys who have not made much progress with learning letter sounds this year. They are finally making progress.

    Thank you so much for your great suggestions and activities.

    • Tami, thanks so much for participating in the Spring Forward Challenge! What a HUGE win to have 2 kids promoted who otherwise wouldn’t have “earned” it! Congrats to you for trying something new at the end of the year and congrats to the girls, too.

      Love that you can continue using the activities from the Challenge during summer school. One of our Reading Simplified Academy members just posted inside the Academy that her 10 year-old student who began at the 1st grade level jumped to the 3rd grade level in 6 weeks, so I’m optimistic for these 2 girls!

      Sounds smart to be using Build It with those who had trouble learning letter-sounds. After they have a few letter-sounds under their belt, I suggest trying Switch It to see if they can accomplish even more. Again, thanks for participating, Tami!!

  5. Hello from Cape Town. Many, many thanks Marnie for sharing this wonderful resource. I’m using it with a Grade 7 learner. We are in the middle of our mid-year exams, therefore I will continue with the programme later. God bless you with the wonderful work you do and your spirit of generosity.

    • Karen, great to hear from our audience on the other side of the world! WOW! Thanks for posting your plans–I hope you find the activities useful when the exams are over. (I started my career with middle school mostly and have used the same activities with great success with that age student.)

      I recommend starting the Switch It activity at the CCVC or even CCCVCC level and then moving from their to CCCVCC nonsense words. Most middle school students still need that phonemic manipulation practice, but they may have memorized a lot of CCVCC words so they only get the mental workout with nonsense words.

      Then, after the student has learned the Blend As You Read strategy with Read It, drop Read It, and spend lots of time with Sort It and reading texts that target the week’s vowel sound. (You will keep reinforcing the Blend As You Read strategy during Sort It.) Good luck!!

  6. Thank you so much. My first graders who started the year not knowing all their letter sounds are now reading at levels C and D! Still well behind, I know, but further than they would have been without the challenge.

    • Lori, so glad to hear about your experience with the Challenge! Congrats to you for trying something new and different at the end of your school year! I hope that these few activities help you start next year with a bang. 😉

    • Jasmine, thanks so much for sharing your experiences with the Challenge! Yes, those starfall books are so well-loved. Did your students re-read them on the computer, too?

  7. Such amazing ideas for someone trained in Middle Years education now doing literacy work in early grade. Thank you so much for sharing your awesome work!

  8. Marnie! This is a GREAT resource. I teach students who speak other languages as well as low students, I was so OVERWHELMED as to were to begin to start. You have really helped me streamline my reading program and reach my kiddos! “A Less-Stressed teacher is the Best teacher!”
    Thank you so much 🙂
    Ann Belser

    • Ann, I LOVE your motto! So true! What a joy to hear that this plan has helped reduce the OVERWHELM!!

      Yes, that is 100% my mission–lighting a path for the teaching of reading that isn’t so impossible. Yikes! We get so many demands put on us–in literacy alone. You have a BIG job so I’m especially grateful you are interested in learning a streamlined approach. Thank you very much for writing in!

  9. I have been so inspired by your approach. I tired switch it with two stuggling students and saw the light bulbs go on. I incorporated your ideas and approach in my reading group time and felt all my students benefitted. Next year I plan to start with the blend as you go blending technique and skip to single sound that does not really prepare students for longer more challenging words. Thank you for your commitment to struggling readers and teachers.

    • Donna, I’m so delighted to hear how you’ve implemented these activities across the board! Yes, I’ve seen that “light bulbs going on”-moment a ton with Switch It. Somehow it makes plain how our written code works in a way that nothing else does.

      And I love that you’ve selected an element of your instruction to tweak for next year, too. I think you’ll find great time savings with the Blend As You Read approach alone.

    • I meant can’t wait to use them more next year! Also, I’m a new teacher but used strategies for some of my lowest students. Even with the limited time I used this (honestly I was just drowning and didn’t have time for ANYTHING) some of my lowest students went up to a E/F and it has benefited my ELLs.

      • What a great post, Ellie! It’s SO hard that first year or two of teaching. Kudos to you for trying something new at the end of the year.

        So glad to hear how you’ve used it with a few different groups. Here’s to a great kick-off to next year for you!!

  10. Hi Marnie, thanks for the opportunity to test drive your program. I used your sort it with my struggling second grade student. He enjoyed it -gave him a feeling of success. One area where I saw him improve was in self monitoring. He began to fix his errors about 75% of the time. He is still a full year behind (has just gone in on an IEP). I was glad to see his awareness grow – a good direction.

    • Deb, thanks for participating in the Challenge! And thank you for the feedback! Great to hear about his success. Self-monitoring is a Very Big Deal. Switch It usually lays the groundwork for that and saying and writing the sounds in Sort It (or Read It) help reinforce the principles of how our written code works. If you get to see him again, this Flex It activity may help boost his self-monitoring even more:

    • Maria, thanks so much for watching all the videos! You were one of the most faithful!! It’s good to hear about the gains in both fluency and confidence. May it just continue to grow for them!

  11. I used the Spring Forward Challenge the last month of school. Now I am teaching summer school and using it again. It is just the right length to keep their attention!!

    • Hi Kandi, thanks for playing! So great to hear that you can continue using these few activities during summer school. It’s great to hear that you’re keeping their attention. I like to switch between the activities really quickly so they give more effort but don’t realize it. 😉 That may be part of your success, too. Here’s to a summer school to beat all others! 🙂

  12. I had three K students use this 25 day challenge. As I did not get as far as I had hoped, but it did still pay off. They are all able to segment and blend much better than they did before we started. Can’t wait to try more things next year! Thanks!

    • Krista, thanks so much for commenting and trying out the activities! Sounds as if you gave them a much stronger sound-symbol processing foundation in the last weeks.

      I look forward to hearing how your K students fare when you begin the year with activities such as Switch It and Read It. For those who don’t know any letter-sounds at the beginning of the year, you could begin with Build It, which is a simpler version of Switch It:

  13. I think it is a great resource and definitely appreciate that is free, as teachers and with limited funds great resources and free, no question Thank you.

  14. The first group of students that I worked with were reading at a level E. Before they leave first grade they should at a level I/J. I tried everything to make them learn the basic skills in reading. I felt like a failure and was upset because these were my kiddos and they needed help. I tried the 25 day challenge and my kiddos loved switch it. When we were done with the 25 day challenge they wanted to keep going. It was amazing to see these kids bloom in 25 days. They loved starfall and the customized book where they could make it there own. They were text leveled and they were a level I. I almost fell out of my chair. I am so thankful to stumble on this product. Thank you for helping me become a confident teacher and helping my students bloom into readers and writers

    • Alexis, thanks so much for joining in on the challenge and for sharing your experiences! Wow! “Almost fell out of your chair” Wow!

      What a priceless teacher moment. Well done.

  15. I am so blessed to stumble upon your website. I have been insired by you to become a better reading teacher. I could not of done this without your support and feedback. You truly helped my son go from being a non- reader to a reader. He struggled with blending sounds and was on an IEP. I sat down with him and he would want to give up. I introduced him to the 25 day challenge and it was the perfect amount of time for a kiddo with a lot of energy. He thrived with switch it and read it. We downloaded starfall and the apps you suggested. When we would drive around town he would read words that he saw. I literally cried with tears of happiness. He use to say that he couldn’t read and hated not knowing how. He now says that he is a reader because he is now reading at a level D. He literally bloomed and it was amazing to see this in my own child. You not only helped my first graders, but you helped my own child. I am forever grateful for you and you encourage me to never give up. Thank you so much!

    • What’s more important than seeing your own child turn from a struggling into a blossoming reader? So glad we connected….

  16. In the last weeks of school, I worked with two kindergarten ELL students. One knew some sight words and most letter sounds; the other knew only sight words and only twelve letter sounds (including only one vowel). This second girl was convinced that reading was all about memorizing how words looked. We practiced “switch it” faithfully, which gave a huge boost to their letter sound knowledge, and it finally convinced both of them that letters are actually a code for sounds! They both got into the habit of reading the first sound, then the second, then pausing to blend those two together before moving on. This habit gave them new confidence in tackling words they’d never seen before.

    At first, there was a bit of rivalry between them: neither wanted to be the worst reader. But by the end, as they were happily writing new words (saying the sounds as they wrote), one of them said, “We’re smart!” “Yeah, we’re smart!” the other one said.

    Thanks for sharing the techniques, and for issuing the challenge!

    • Liz, so glad you joined in for the journey! What a huge difference your efforts in a short time period made! I like how you used their rivalry for good and not ill. 😉

      And it’s a Very Big Deal to get a child from thinking words are to just be memorized by appearance to knowing how the code works.

  17. Love all the videos, I purchased the sort it bundle and look forward to using it next school year. Thanks for all you do!

  18. Thank you for sharing so many GREAT strategies! As a Title I teacher for Kindergarten and first grade I can say the best tools I have in my tool box are your strategies. First, I used the build it switch it with my struggling kindergartens and the advanced phonics sentence strategy with my first graders. I actually took those and created a poster (card stock and laminated them) for several of your “fun reading tricks” with the sentence below the picture. This created a visual for students who were on level but not struggling as well as the sentence for those on or above level. This summer I am planning on working on creating one for all of those tricky phonemes as well as all blends. I started the challenge late, but the students I used the Build It and Switch It improved their ability to blend and read words much quicker. They could build works with accuracy, but when we moved on to switch I had one student who could get the ending sound one hundred percent of the time and most of the beginning sounds, but the middle sounds (short vowels) were very difficult for her. She will still be retained in K, but she did make progress in just the last weeks of school. The great news is that I am being moved from Title I to kindergarten and this same student will be in my room so I will be able to really see her process with a full year of using your strategies.

    • Donna, it’s great to hear all the ways you implemented the Challenge activities! Thanks for the kind words, too. 🙂

      How remarkable that you and so many other teachers on this page were willing to make big changes to your/their teaching in the last few days of the school year.

      I love that you are concerned about sticking it out with the struggling K reader. You’ll make a big difference! Those adaptations sound fun and effective, too.

  19. Hi Marnie. I’ve enjoyed​ all the videos and watched some over again. Started cvc with GR one learner. Only knew sounds. Blending with him and today just over a week we started the oo and sh and is on his way. Proud of little A’dham. Shoot, fish, food, pool. Yeah. Can’t wait to follow further and love your videos although I do feel overwhelmed at times. Thank you for your prompt replies.

    • Zaiboon, it’s always a pleasure to see your faithful name. I’m so glad you tried these strategies and saw success!

      A whole new approach can feel overwhelming. My top tip for battling that is to just add 1 activity per week and don’t add any others until you feel comfortable with it and you can use it with a variety of levels.

      Here’s to a great second half of your school year in South Africa!

  20. Hi Marnie,

    I started the challenge late, and will only complete week 2’s challenge tomorrow with the child that I am tutoring, but we are having such a great time with the challenge. Thanks for sharing the awesome strategies. I also really appreciate that it is free. Again, thank you!

    • Giorgette, there’s no time like the present. Glad you started when you could and that your student is enjoying it! Hope week 3 and beyond go well…

  21. I can not thank you enough for all the lessons and how reading simplified helped my struggling students!! I love teaching reading. After 25 years of teaching I feel so proud when I hear my students read and I see their faces light up makes me the happyest teacher on earth!!

    • Amen, amen! That’s my favorite teacher moment, too, Maria!

      Thank you for joining in and for the good words. 🙂

  22. Marnie, I am a veteran teacher, but this year I began teaching students with English as a second language. The sound-symbol form of teaching reading was excellent with these students. It opened so many doors for me and my students! Switch It and Sort It was a great tool. It seemed to really meet their needs! Now that I have a break I want to go back through your emails and study them to become more proficient and a better teacher of reading for my students.


    • Amy, thanks so much for sharing your experience. I’m thrilled that after all your teaching experience you were willing to try something new.

      Yes, ELL students can especially benefit from a streamlined approach to sound-symbol processing. I love that you pointed that out! Also love that you are headed back through the teachings that you didn’t yet have time for. I expect great outcomes for your future students. 🙂

  23. Thank you, thank you , thank you , this is awesome. I am so passionate about this new why of learning. I help learners on Saturdays at our reading clinic and have been using the switch it, read it and with the older learners ( 17 years old) I found the blend it method working great. The learners attitude towards reading and spelling was mostly ” it is too difficult” and ” it’s boring”. After my first attempt at switch it, 8 out of 9 learners wanted to read more. I introduced blend it after a few switch it lessons and after the 1st blend it lesson I had 9/9 learners wanting to read and spell. I am so proud of the changes in the learners reading, spelling but most of all their attitudes. I believe a positive attitude is very important.

    • Jeanine, it’s so good to hear your quick outcomes! Wow! Just 2 weeks!

      Agreed, if we can help children to feel successful, then we’ve done the best work we can do! It’s so exciting to hear your success.

      I look forward to hearing what happens when you crack open Sort It….

  24. I just started using the spring forward challenge even though it is fall and really like the way my kids are responding. Thanks for this awesome resource.

  25. Pleased at how working with the letter tiles for activities like Build It and Switch It are making a difference with my students.

    • So glad to hear this, Joanne!! Thanks for taking the time to report. I look forward to hearing about their next steps!

    • Thanks for your interest in the End of Year Challenge, Rosemary! If you registered, I hope by now you should already have received emails that are part of the challenge. If not, please let us know and we’ll get that set up.

      The special event itself is over but the content and training are useful year-round. I hope they serve you!

  26. This has been great so far. I am testing it out o. My on before I take it to my classroom. It is really working for him. I can’t find where the oa sort it pages are though…

  27. I would love to do this with a struggling student. Thank you. (He is 13, has never learned to read – even CVC words – lives 2.5 hours from the nearest school – and is taught by his mom, who is able to read at a grade 3 level. This might work!)

    • Hi Nancy! Thanks so much for writing in!! Yes, these activities can help him get jumpstarted but he will be a tough case. This blog post is from last spring so below are better ways to learn about the streamlined steps to teach decoding.

      We show teachers and parents how just a small handful of activities can rapidly accelerate all beginning and struggling readers’ decoding. You can learn more about our core techniques in 1 of two ways:

      1) You can read about these core activities on our blog here: OR,
      2) You can watch an on-demand workshop, 3 Activities a Day to Keep Reading Difficulties Away, when it’s convenient for you. Register for a time for this workshop here:

      Hope this helps!