In this post, I will tell you how to do guided reading in Kindergarten. Yes, you CAN teach kids to READ in Kindergarten, and I’m going to tell you WHY and HOW! If you are already implementing guided reading in your kindergarten classroom, then that’s awesome! If you haven’t started, then it’s time to jump on the guided reading bandwagon, because it’s the very best way to get your little ones started down the path towards becoming real readers! It’s also pretty easy to do, and lesson planning is a cinch! I do this every year, and some of my kids “crack the reading code” every time (and I don’t mean just the sight words, either.) Curious? Read on!
Why Do Guided Reading in Kindergarten?
First, let’s talk about WHY it’s important to do guided reading with children that might not even know the entire alphabet yet. They might not even know more than just a few sight words, too! All of that really doesn’t matter. Think about it: did your parents wait to begin reading to you until you knew the alphabet and 50 sight words? Of course not! And what we are doing with guided reading in Kindergarten in the very beginning stages is simply sharing a simple book together, enjoying the pictures, talking about it, and finding some letters or words we might know. This process builds the children’s confidence, and helps them see themselves as readers.
It Shows the Purpose of the Skills We Teach
Guided reading in Kindergarten also helps children see the PURPOSE of learning the alphabet, letter sounds, and those sight words that we spend so long learning! It also gives them a reason to learn how to sound out words. These are not just random, isolated skills; these are skills that will unlock the fun of reading a book!
It Gives Kids a Chance to Apply their Skills
Another reason to do guided reading in Kindergarten is to give the children a chance to APPLY the skills that they are learning. You may have noticed that sometimes children learn to read the sight words, but can ONLY recognize them on the flash cards that they practiced them on- and can’t recognize them anywhere else! These children have practiced pure memorization and need to apply what they’ve learned. Those are exactly the types of children that really need to do guided reading- so that they can practice applying what they have learned- which is reading those words in other places.
It Gives Kids a Chance to Integrate Reading Skills & Strategies
Yet another reason to do guided reading in Kindergarten is to give children a chance to practice integrating the skills they have acquired by the last trimester. For example, in any given book, children may see CVC words along with sight words and some totally unknown words as well. This pushes kids to use other strategies, such as beginning and ending sounds, inference, and picture clues. And since the books are generally simple, Kindergarten is a GREAT place to introduce and practice these strategies!
Ensure Success by Picking the Right Book
The best books for the earliest readers are short, predictable readers with great pictures or illustrations. There should usually be just ONE short sentence per page, and the book should be so easy that you could easily guess at the words after reading just a page or two. And a surprise ending of some type is a definite plus! Two classic examples of of great early readers are Bill Martin’s Brown Bear, Brown Bear, and Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathman. I have also provided a list and links to my favorite beginning readers on this blog post here.
The Basic Lesson- Whole Group Routines
1. If your kids are learning to read a real trade book such as Rosie’s Walk, start by reading it to the class whole group. Read it more than once over a few days, so that the class can start to become familiar with the text and even begin to memorize it a little!
2. Print the words on sentence strips and read it off of a pocket chart, if possible! Or, type up the words and project them. The important thing is that the children see them WITHOUT the pictures so that they are forced to focus on the print rather than the illustrations.
3. Comprehension time! If working off of a pocket chart, have the children match pictures from the story to the words, or simply rebuild the story in order. The pictures I used in the picture below were from my book for kids to make and read, called The Hen’s Walk. We make it, and then do a guided reading lesson from it!
4. Ask questions about the story! If you are stumped for some higher level thinking questions, you can refer to my Critical Thinking Question Cards for Young Children.
5. Ask children to find the sight words they might know and then sing the sight word songs! Point to a word and ask them to identify it.
6. Find any decodable words that the children may know and point to them. Can they read them? Do they belong to any word families they know? Can they think of any other words that belong to that same word family? Those words rhyme! What other words rhyme with that word?
7. Take one sentence strip, write a sentence from the story on it. Cut it apart, ask the children to put it back in order, and then read it. (Separate flash cards will also work!) Does it make sense? Now mix up the words and read them again. Doesn’t it sound silly all mixed up? A real sentence always makes sense!
The Basic Lesson- Small Group Routines
It’s always a good idea to do guided reading in small groups as well, because then you can group your students by achievement and zero in on exactly what they need. Also, you can make sure that the children are able to have the thinking time that they need without someone else providing the answer before they ever had a chance to think it through. There is no hiding in a small group!
1. Introduce any new words on flash cards or by writing them on a white board. Practice reading them for a minute.
2. Pass out the books. Ask the children to find the back cover, front cover, the spine, the title on the cover, and the title page. Then we count the number of words in the title, and then the number of letters in it, noting the difference between words and letters. It’s always confusing at first! See my Concepts of Print Bingo and Practice Cards for a fun way to introduce and practice this!
3. Then, tell everyone to find the first page and put their fingers UP when they are on the same page as you are. Then I say, “Ready, point and read!” Everyone points and reads at the same time. We usually do it again immediately (same page,) right off the bat.
4. Point to the sight words or CVC words that you say, or any other words you are working on. Sing the word songs if there are any, etc.
5. Turn them loose to read it on their own! Tell them that you are looking for children that are really pointing to the words and saying them- not just looking at the pictures!
The basic idea here is that you are teaching the kids how to “pretend read,” which is the very beginning stage of learning to be a real reader! I have observed that kids that “pretend read” seem to often become early readers, and in my opinion, that is NO ACCIDENT!
Next week, I’ll give you some more ideas on how to vary the lesson! Have fun teaching!
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