Guided Reading - What Others Do!

Guided Reading Overview l Grouping Students l Leveled Texts l What Others Do l Teacher Resources

When I am busy with a guided reading group, what do the other students do and how is this organized?

Procedural Suggestions |Literacy Center Ideas | Resources|

Before we discuss what the others do, you must be prepared to dedicate an initial period of time to teaching the students what the guided reading classroom looks and feels like. Have students identify what their jobs consist of and what you will be doing while they are working independently. Post these lists on the wall so you can point to them to remind off task students of their responsibilities.

Some Procedural Suggestions:

  • Consider having 20-30 different Literacy Centers (see below) that you can use on a rotating basis. This frees you for individual instruction and guided reading. Further, with that many activities available kids can move at their own pace and in smaller groups. You can avoid having 4 or 5 kids in one spot talking too loudly, being off-task, or fighting over whatever materials they're using.
  • Put the more "academic" activities at the top, and the really fun stuff (stamp a word, stencils, ABC magnets, etc.) at the bottom of the column. Students will have added incentive to stay on task.
  • Pick a certain number of activities that are always on the activity board and add in some of the other activities for variety each week.
  • Work Board Rotation Chart - Chart activities and groups so everyone knows where to be - moving cards over to a new starting point each day
  • When adding new activities, show students where the tub is kept and how to use what's in it, and the card for that activity is already up on the week's Work Board Rotation.
  • No skipping an activity to get to another - this ensures students do all end up in one center

Once the procedures are in place, you are free to begin teaching guided reading. Here are some ideas for what the others might do while you work with the GR group.

Center Ideas: An excellent resource for ready to go resources,, has download files for your use, including: activity cards for guided reading, activity explanation cards, authentic writing, bookmarks, coaching handouts and other letters for parents, developmental spelling test, journal directions, reading and writing rhymes, spelling activities, reading assessment form, and more! Free registration is now required.

The list that follows are suggested literacy center activities.

  • Reading Activities center (song and poetry cards, big books, other book type reading)
  • ABC centers (flash cards, ABC books, song and poem cards, and other ABC activities, alphabetizing)
  • Write the Room (small clipboards -- about 6x9 -- students copy any print they see anywhere in the room. They must fill one side of a page, even if they can't read everything they wrote. Beginning writers draw pictures to help them remember the words). Students can pair up & one may even use a pointer and tell the other what to write.
  • Read the Room - reading anything that is posted in the room
  • Rainbow Spelling (Post the week's spelling words on a half sheet of chart paper, students write them 3 times each with colored markers or colored pencils.)
  • Spelling Activity Center - using their word lists create tongues twisters, sentences, stories, word scrambles ...
  • Pocket Charts (Read/do the activities in at least 4 charts - (story sentence sequencing, making words challenge, etc).
  • Stamp a Word - take a tub with rubber alphabet stamps, stamp pads, and large sheets of paper to a work area and stamp any words they want to stamp.
  • Book Bins - independent, silent, or small group reading
  • Star Authors - A place to read student created work
  • Listening Centers - Record the books you read to the class. Have parents help out - have students record for others. How nice to hear your friend, mom, dad, sister or brother read a story at center time!
  • Magnetic letters/Magnetic Poetry for Kids - Make use of your metal file cabinet!
  • Stamp and sticker stories - Students use the stamps or stickers
    (appropriate to the unit) and write rebus type stories using stamps/stickers
    and words. Put a limit of stickers to be used or photocopy sheets of stickers they can cut apart.
  • Making Words Centers - Throughout the week students can go up to a pocket chart when they have a few minutes and try to make words out of the scrambled Mystery Word. On Fridays - students share all of the words that they came up with and decode the mystery word. It's a great activity for your average and high students.
  • Bookmaking Center -place numerous materials in a basket (writing utensils, colored pens, markers, crayons, stickers, etc.), a tablet of story paper and a stapler/binding machine. Encourage children to make books about topic that interest them.
  • Overhead Journals - Have one student write their journal entry on the overhead. The student reads the journal and gives the class permission to edit the entry. The student gets to correct the errors and the class rereads it out loud.
  • Sign Language Center- Make a center with a poster of the hand sign letters, flash cards, and books (consider Braille or other languages as well).
  • Puzzle Center - Find copies of appropriate word searches, laminate them, and let the children write on them with washable markers. When done, they use towels to clean them off.
  • Making Greeting Cards - have samples of greeting card verses, titles, etc - cut them up for students to refer to for ideas. Add anything from yarn,
    pompoms, wiggly eyes, letter and picture stencils, etc....Encourage students to make cards for their family, teachers around the building, and students within the room.
  • Game Center - think word games - Scrabble, Story Scramble, Silly Sentences (cards)
  • Computer Center - reading of living books or student created e-books
  • Message Centers/Student Post Office - for writing to others - a mailbox for each student is a good idea to avoid note passing in class.
  • Dramatic Play -- baskets of book & props (Mrs. Wishy Washy, etc.)
  • Word Hunt -- kids get a letter or digraph and see how many words they can find that start with or contain it.
  • Browsing Box: Each guided reading group takes the books read during GR group and put them into a browsing box. They can look at the books as a group. This is effective because the students are dealing with familiar text
    independently. Each day "special" students choose books to read from their
    browsing box to the entire class.
  • Literature Circle: A group of students will read a literature selection
    together and discuss their favorite part. Once they are comfortable with this process, they can map the story on large chart paper, make puppets and put on a play for the class, etc. This allows children to own literature.
  • Buddy Reading: Place duplicate copies of books at all levels in the room. The students can read with a partner, this can be familiar or unfamiliar texts. Then they work with their buddy to draw or write about their favorite part.
  • Journal Writing: Give students content related pictures to glue in their journals as writing prompts
  • Phonics Center: Phonics based literature, games, worksheets and flash
  • Handwriting Center: Use laminated alphabet cards for the class to practice handwriting either by tracing over them in a marker or play dough. They can also use wikki sticks or pipe cleaners to make letters.
  • Overhead: Place a cloze paragraph on the overhead or let the kids map out their stories on the overhead, stories they have read or will be writing. Encourage students to use graphic organizers such as plot graphs,
    Venn diagrams, and T-charts to gain understanding into story reading or creation.
  • Sight Word Center: (which may change to vocabulary center depending on your students) They can make the sight words with rubber stamps, magnetic letters, paint baggies, sand trays...

Additional Teaching Resources - Books

  • What are the other kids doing...while you teach small groups?
    Creative Teaching Press--the book has 30 centers that you can easily use in any classroom. Some can be the same for weeks at a time... others you can change to go along with a specific skill or theme. About $20.
  • Developing Literacy Using Reading Manipulatives.
    $15.95 from Creative Teaching Press.
  • A Poem a Day (Grades K-3) by Helen H. Moore
    80 Thematic Poems and Activities That Teach and Delight All Year Long
    Here is a big collection of cross-curricular poems written especially for classroom use. You'll find poems that are perfect for every day of the school...
  • Quick-and-Easy Learning Centers: Phonics (Grades K-2) by Mary Beth Spann
    Using the mini-lessons, fun activities, and games in this phonics kit, teachers will facilitate individual and small-group experiences, encourage cooperative learning, and allow for different learning styles.
  • Pocket Charts for Emergent Readers (Grades K-1) by Valerie Schifferdanoff
    30 Fun, Interactive Cross-Curricular Charts that Build Literacy
    Create irresistible pocket charts that are just right for emergent readers. Use poems, songs, predictable stories and more to make over 30 charts
  • Building Literacy with Interactive Charts (Grades PreK-2)
    by Kristin G. Schlosser, Vicki L. Phillips

(Most books listed above are available at - many are in our library collections.)



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