Today I am going to give you TEN fun ideas to use in guided reading groups with children in Kindergarten, first grade, or even Transitional Kindergarten (TK)! These activities and mini lessons are fun ways to help children learn to read, and are super simple and easy to implement. I have been developed most them over the past several years in Kindergarten, and refined them this year as I have taught TK. If you are unfamiliar with how to do reading groups with children that can only barely read, (or even cannot read at all!) check out my post from last week, “Guided Reading in Kindergarten: The Basics!” or my previous post on this topic, “How to Do Guided Reading with Children that Cannot Yet Read.”
Play “Bumblebee” with Your Fingers!
Since my routine is to have them put their fingers up in the air to show me they are ready to read, sometimes I tell them to have their fingers do what mine is doing! I make my finger buzz around like a bumblebee or a bird, etc., until I finally land on the word. It’s fun, and the kids like it!
Have One Child Read the Page, Then Everyone Repeats It
Rather than giving everyone one turn to read as you go around the reading table, try having everyone read a page, and then have the rest of the children immediately echo read it back again, pointing at the words as they go. This seems to keep the listeners a bit more alert, since they know that they will also have to read it soon as well.
Read a Sentence Frontwards, and then BACKWARDS!
One of my reading groups just BEGS to be allowed to read a sentence forward from left to right, and then immediately again backwards, from right to left! They laugh and laugh because it doesn’t make sense, and they think it is SO FUNNY! It’s actually pretty good practice for them, because suddenly a very easy, predictable book becomes much harder when you have to really read each and every word.
Find the Punctuation, Replace it, Reread It!
My kids enjoy reading a sentence first with a period, then with an exclamation point (“a happy period”), and then with a question mark! We do this with the flashcards by putting a card with the different punctuation marks at the end of the sentences. Then we read the sentences with the different expressions. The kids think this is hilarious!
Talk, Talk, TALK!
If a certain book has content that captures the kids imaginations and they just can’t stop talking about it, then RUN WITH IT! Let them talk, read the pages once through and just talk, talk, TALK! Sometimes, that’s all they need.
Bring in the Real Thing
Sometimes you may find books that discuss real things that you can easily bring in, such as fruits or vegetables, toys, or other items you may own. If you can bring reading alive by showing them the real thing or letting them taste and graph it (or write about it), then definitely do it!
Read a Challenging Book Ahead of Time to Establish Context
My top groups this year in both the AM and the PM class (yes, in TK!) are both reading real books now. But because there are always a few words in those books that they haven’t encountered before, I like to stack the deck in their favor by reading the book to them ahead of time. For example, a few weeks ago I had them read David Gets in Trouble by David Shannon. I read it to them first, and then passed out the book and had them try to read it. By reading to them first, they were able to use their prior knowledge of the book to help them with the unknown words, along with letter sounds and inference skills. And of course, I do tell them to EXPECT that there will be words that they don’t know, and that is perfectly okay! I will help them through it and soon they will be able to enjoy the book on their own. SCORE!
Was a Page Hard? Reread it IMMEDIATELY for Fluency and Comprehension!
If the children stumbled through a difficult page, they likely didn’t gain anything at all in terms of comprehension. DEFINITELY go back and have them reread the page again, and then ask them what is happening on it. It makes a difference!
Type Up the Words and Read Them WITHOUT the Pictures!
This is a little intimidating for the kids at first when they look at a piece of paper with all text and no pictures at all, but when they realize they can really READ it, they feel SO GOOD about themselves!!!! I love this method- it ROCKS! You can also send that sheet home and have them practice it for homework. They can also try to illustrate some of the pictures themselves to demonstrate their comprehension! There is a lot that can be done with just the raw text of a book!
Have Kids Search for Words They Need to Know and Color Them Designated Colors
This is one of the most powerful strategies I have encountered for helping young children notice word boundaries and also help them realize that there really ARE words on a page that they KNOW! The problem is that when kids learn words on flash cards, they become very comfortable reading them off of those flash cards, but nowhere else. This becomes frustrating for the teacher when he/she finds that the child does not recognize them in print or anywhere else. But it’s just usually a matter of building confidence and helping the child “see” that they DO know the words on the page! Once they realize that those words on the flash cards can be found in real books, they can start using what they know!
To start, decide which words your kids need to work on. (I use ESGI to help me figure that out! It’s the best tool ever! Click here for a FREE trial, if you want!) Make sure that these are review words and not brand new, at least to start off with. Then, make up some sentences and type them up and print them out as shown. Or, find a simple book that has those words in it and type it up. Then write the words you want them to find on an index card in black ink, and then color each word a different color. Explain to the children that they need to find each word and color it that color.
Now, here’s where the magic begins! After each child has started, stop ONE child and listen to him or her read a sentence or two. Then stop another child and listen to that one read a sentence or two! (This is a GREAT way to listen to each child read, because everyone else is busy in a meaningful way! And you can always stop at any time, knowing that the child that was reading can go right back to work.) In any case, if your kids are like mine, you’ll probably see a few kids begin to read that have NEVER read anything before, other than a flash card! And those children may be just as surprised as you are! LOL!
I hope these ideas work for you and your kiddos!!
P.S. If you’re looking for some more ways to get your class familiar with their sight words, phonics rules, or word families, WE HAVE A SONG FOR THAT!
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