{New} Guided Reading Activities

by Rachel Stepp

Comment on this post to win a $20 School Box gift card. One comment this week will win!

Do you struggle with your guided reading group routine? Here is a simple idea for a five-day reading routine for the lower grades (which could easily be adapted for upper grades, as well).

Imagine your class divided into several small groups. You can work with each group for approximately 15-20 minutes depending on the number of students in your class.

Day 1: Selecting and Introducing the Book

If your school has a guided reading book library, then use it to find books that are appropriate for your students. When you first introduce the book, allow the students to do a picture walk (flip through the book, looking at the pictures) and make predictions. Then read the story aloud to the class the first time through. Make sure that your students are using their ‘tracking finger’ to follow along. After the whole group has read the book together, ask the students to whisper read to themselves as you listen in. Make sure that the students read the book enough times so that you have time to walk around the class and listen to each student read.

Day 2: Learning New Words

Begin the second day by reviewing and rereading the book from day one. Check ‘tracking fingers’ like you did previously, and monitor the students as they read to themselves. After they have reread the book, talk about new words from the story. You can write these words on index cards to add them to the word wall, if your class has one. Have your students practice saying the words and talk about their meanings. You can have the students write out new words on individual white boards if time allows.

Day 3: Be an Illustrator!

Once again, begin the day by allowing your students to reread their stories. Ask comprehension questions related to the text and pictures (“Why do you think he did that?” “What’s going on in that picture?” “What did you think about that part?”)–to get students to think deeper about what they’re reading.

Now it’s time to let your students’ creativity shine: tell them that they are going to become the illustrator for a page in the story! After they draw their favorite scene, they can write a caption. Depending on students’ writing abilities, their captions may range from one word to paragraphs. This will help them practice their spelling and attention to story sequence and details.

Day 4: Social Reading

On this day, once again reread the story, but allow your students to do this with a partner. Let them move about the room for a few minutes as they read to each other. Once everyone has had the chance to read, bring them back together and review the new words. The students can try to read new or unfamiliar words on their own by sounding them out or using context clues. At the end of this day, allow your students to take home their books so that they can read them with their families.

Day 5: Working on Writing

Since you sent the books home with your students the day before, you might not have them all back on day five (let’s be realistic). So, on this day, orally talk about the story. Tell the students to write words or sentences summarizing the story’s content. You might need to remind students what the story was about. Allow them to sound out words and work on their phonics skills. Also, while they are writing, ask them to check for spacing between letters and look for neat handwriting. Children can use their index fingers as a guide for how much space to leave between words.

These five days of guided reading plans are simple enough to be adapted to many classrooms and guided reading units. One final tip: Listen to your students read aloud during guided reading. This may be the only time that you will be able to hear them read one-on-one. One of the purposes of guided reading is to get to know your students’ abilities on an individualized basis, and after this week’s worth of activities, you will have witnessed oral reading, vocabulary skills, comprehension, interpersonal skills, writing, summarizing and drawing. Not too shabby for one week!

Rachel Stepp is a graduate student at The University of Georgia whose good ideas are frequently published on A Learning Experience.



Filed under Academic Success, comprehension, Cooperative Learning, Reading, reading aloud

4 responses to “{New} Guided Reading Activities

  1. Leigh Ann

    For early readers a great choice for this activity might be books based on songs. There are many storybooks based on children’s songs that spread out each verse over a page or two. You also have the plus of the repetitive chorus every few pages for word recognition and familiarity. I have found many of these books to have beautiful illustrations. Iza Trapani comes to mind, with her many song storybooks including “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “I’m A Little Teapot,” “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and many more. You can also use these books to meet standards related to teaching rhyme. For the little older student, Peter Yarrow’s “Puff the Magic Dragon” is always a favorite with students I have worked with – the illustrations are really spectacular and, sadly, most of them do not know this song today and they also enjoy learning it. I could go on but you get the idea – I think these books could be incorporated very much in this guided reading activity.

  2. Great ideas. I just love these articles. It is a great resource. I just love reflecting on my own teaching and getting new ideas. During guided reading I have my students turn their chairs around so they are facing away from the table. Then they must read silently. When I come over to their chair, they know to begin reading aloud. This is when I can write down my observations in my reading conferencing notebook. Then I go to the next child until I have heard all 6 children in the group read aloud for fluency. I also let them have buddy reading time on Friday. This is an earned treat. If they have used their independent reading time wisely all week, they can buddy read. They love this. Thanks again for giving us these great ideas and helping us reflect on our own teaching.

  3. Connie Wiley

    This is a great summary of a guided reading lesson. Breaking your lesson down into five days allows you to hear all students read each week. This also takes away some of the stress all teachers feel with trying to get to everyone in a week. My students summarize in their reading response journals. This gives them the opportunity to reflect about the story and gives them a writing opportunity. The stories that we have read together may also be used for a reading or writing mentor text at another time. My students really enjoy flashlight reading on Fridays. We take about 25 minutes and read around the room with our flashlights. I have a little lamp that I use during this time so that I can listen to students read aloud. My kids can’t wait to read…and isn’t that our goal?

  4. ecossick

    I totally agree, Peggy- how do we get better as educators if we don’t take time to reflect– as well as consider and share ideas? Love the idea of reading response journals, too, Connie! The $20 comment winner this week is Leigh Ann- very creative idea for “song” storybooks; I think the familiar songs would provide a good “comfort zone” for reluctant readers. Great thoughts!!