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Language Arts

Guided Reading: The Ins and Outs

Guided Reading

Guided reading is one of my absolute favorite times of the day! I love that students are broken into groups, working at their level, being independent, and getting the individualized attention that they need.

The Curriculum

My school uses the Fountas and Pinnel program for guided reading, but there are many programs out there, including some on teacherspayteachers. The program I have includes different leveled books from A – E (because I teach kinder) and an easy way to assess what level students are at.

Guided Reading

Read about how I set up my guided reading groups here.


I incorporate my guided reading lessons into our literacy center time. During centers, two groups meet with teachers (I have a full-time assistant teacher), one group does word work, one group does listen to reading and sometimes I have groups working at our sand table. Other center ideas I’ve used are work on writing, read to self and read to someone.

Guided Reading Literacy Center Template

Check out my literacy center calendar template here!


  1. Guided Reading (Leveled Groups)
  2. Word Work – I have a variety of centers that students can complete during word work. In the beginning of the year, we focus on letter recognition and letter sounds. Once we hit about October, students are working on sight words. During the second half of the year, we transition from sight words to spelling words.
  3. Listen to Reading – I use a program on the iPads called Raz-Kids. This program is awesome because you can put in students’ reading levels. It also has an option to read the story to them or for them to read it to themselves. As the story reads to them, it highlights the word, giving the student more exposure to sight words.
  4. Sand table – Students complete different activities sorting through the sand looking for either letters or words.

Guided Reading Lesson Plan Template

Guided Reading Lessons

  • Before Reading – I use this time to introduce sight words that will be in the story and any vocabulary that students might not know.
  • During Reading – I have students read all at the same time but not together. (This will take some practice and time to get used to.) As they’re reading, I listen to each student and make any notes on the recording sheet. I make note of their fluency, accuracy and anything else that might come up as they’re reading.
  • After Reading – Once students have read through the book multiple times, I stop them and we discuss the book. I ask them comprehension questions such as recalling what happened, why something happened and any connections they have to the story.
  • Once our guided reading time is over, students put their books in their book bags and pick a sticker for their sticker book. They can read the books in their book bags during read to self or read to someone.

Be sure to check out my guided reading lesson plan template here!


Click the picture to check out this guided reading bundle!

Guided Reading Bundle

You might also be interested in reading about how I create my guided reading caddie and what I keep in it!


Guided Reading

The Benefits of Having a Class Travel Buddy

Having a class travel buddy is a special part of my kindergarten class. Nellie is a small stuffed cow that I had when I was a child. Now, she lives in a red barn and loves to document all her adventures with my students!

Class Travel Buddy

Class Travel Buddy

Each week, one student gets to take Nellie home and spend special time with her. Some students sleep with her, introduce her to their other toys, take her on playdates, some have even taken her on vacation! After the week is up, the student writes and draws about the time they had together. When the student returns Nellie, they share what they did with her and answer some questions that the other kiddos might have about their adventure.

Class Travel Buddy

Benefits of a Class Travel Buddy

  1. Students absolutely LOVE getting to take a buddy home. They feel so special when it’s their turn and the smile on their face is priceless.
  2. This activity is VERY low maintenance. Once I set up her book and make a schedule of when each child takes Nellie home, I barely even think about her.
  3. Families get involved in an easy way. Parents can help their child write about the fun time they had with Nellie.
  4. You get a glimpse of each child’s family life. You can find out what’s important to them and what they like to do as an individual or as a family.
  5. A travel buddy creates amazing memories for each child. Each student I’ve had loves Nellie so much! I’ve had some students cry when they have to give her back. Others have gone out and purchased their own “Nellie” stuffed cow. This year, one of my students asked about Nellie on the first day of school. I had his brother a couple of years ago and he remembered her and how much fun they had with her. As simple as this activity is, it is such a memorable experience to all (Nellie included)!


Check out this resource to help you create your own classroom travel buddy book!

You might need….

(affiliate links)

Do you send a travel buddy home with each student? What kind of buddy is in your class!?

Class Travel Buddy

Guided Reading Groups: How to Set up Your Groups in the Beginning of the Year

Guided reading is one of my favorite subjects to teach because I love that I can differentiate for each student to truly give them what they need to succeed. In order to have a smoothly run guided reading time, you must set up your guided reading groups for success. Groups are set up so that students with similar needs are put together.

Guided Reading

Assess What They Know

Before you can put students in groups, you need to assess what they know and what they struggle with. In kindergarten, it can be hard to assess students on reading because most likely, they do not read yet.

I like to assess my students on the following to get a good understanding of their overall reading and letter skills:

  • Letter recognition
  • Letter sound
  • Sight Word recognition
  • Reading and Reading Comprehension

I assess students in this order and move them on according to how they do in the previous assessment.

Letter Recognition

For example, I assess all students on letter recognition. If they miss only a few, I move on to letter sounds. If they miss half or more than half, I stop there and make a note that these students need to work on letter recognition.

Letter and Sound Recognition Freebie

Letter Sound

Next, I assess if students know their letter sounds. Again, if they know most, I move them on to sight word recognition and if they know half or less, I make a note that the focus for this group should be letter sounds.

Sight Word Recognition and Reading Comprehension

For my sight word recognition and reading/reading comprehension assessments, I use a program called Fountas and Pinnel. This program sets it all up for you which makes it easy on me. I have a set of 5 sight word lists and I start by asking the student if they know any of the words on the list. If a student knows most of the words on a list, they move on to the next list. When we reach a point where they no longer know majority of the words, I stop them and make a note. The program then tells me which guided reading level they should begin at according to how many sight words they know.

If a student makes it to the point where they should begin reading at a certain level in the program, I assess them with a running record. Most kindergarteners in the beginning of the year do not make it to this point because they are pre-readers but I do usually have a handful that are ready.

After all my assessments are finished, I look over my notes of which students need support in certain areas and I group them by similar needs. I try to keep my groups to 5 students or less so they’re getting a lot of individualized attention during our guided reading groups.

Click the picture to check out some of my Guided Reading Resources.

Guided Reading Resource Bundle

How do you group your students?

Read how to set up your DIY Guided Reading Caddie here.

The Benefits of Morning Work

Each morning after circle time, my students go to their tables for morning work. I believe making time for morning work each day is so important in kindergarten because it serves as routine, reinforces weekly learning and promotes independence.

Benefits of Morning Work

1. Routine

Having a solid routine gives students the ability to be successful because they know what to expect. Every single day, students in my room know that we will begin at the carpet for our morning circle, then we’ll go to our tables and complete the morning work. Our morning work focuses on language arts and math skills that we have learned earlier in the week or in the prior week. Although the worksheets and skills change, the directions and activities stay the same. This creates routine in the worksheet and promotes independence.

2. Independence

Believe it or not, kindergarten students can be independent. By creating an expected routine and modeling the different activities on the morning work, students learn exactly what they need to do. Before you know it, they don’t need you to model or read the directions! Morning work can give students the confidence to feel independent in other subjects and in other areas of the classroom.

Benefits of Morning Work

3. Reinforce Learning

The biggest and most important aspect of morning work is that it reinforces weekly learning. The morning work that my students complete follow along with the skills we learn in our language arts program as well as skills learned in math. In the beginning of the year, students work on finding and matching letters, sounding out words and counting. By the end of the year, they are circling nouns, correcting sentences and adding and subtracting. Morning work is a great opportunity to see how your students are retaining the skills learned in language arts and math.

Kindergarten Morning Work Bundle

Check out my Kindergarten Morning Work Bundle that you can use for your entire school year! This bundle comes with six units, which is broken down into six-weeks per unit, one sheet of morning work per day.

Morning Work Bundle

What benefits do you find in having students begin the day with morning work?

Classroom DIY: Guided Reading Caddies

Guided reading is one of my favorite times of the day as I get to work with a small group of students. During this time, I focus on their strengths or weaknesses to continue to help them grow in their reading development.

I’m lucky to have a full-time assistant teacher who also works with a small group during our guided reading time. There have been many times where my assistant or I sit down with our groups and then realize we don’t have certain materials we need in order for our small group lessons. That is why I created Guided Reading Caddies! In our caddies, we have everything we could ever need during our reading lesson.

What’s in my guided reading caddie?

DIY: Guided Reading Caddies

 1. Hole Punch 

– To begin our guided reading lesson, I start off with sight words that students are working on. If it is our first meeting for the week, I introduce these sight words. (Students also get their sight words in their homework so most likely they’ve seen them prior to our group meeting). Students have sight word flash cards that they cut out during word work. I use these flash cards to test if they know the word. If they do know it, the student hole punches the card and puts it on a binder ring. This ring holds all the sight words they know and as the year goes on, they get verrrry full. I recommend getting large binder rings like these. If the student does not know the sight word, it goes back into a ziplock in their book bag. Since I start with sight words each guided reading lesson, the sight word is continually shown and eventually the student gets to put their card on their ring.

2. Mini Whiteboards/Expo Pens/Expo Erasers

– Sometimes during a guided reading lesson, I need to write something down so these materials come in handy. For example, during a reading lesson, a student might be having a hard time sounding out a word. In this case, I grab my mini whiteboard, expo pen and eraser so I can help them by breaking the word apart on my whiteboard. — I also have the students use these boards sometimes. During the lesson, I might say the sounds slowly while they write the letters down and then read the word back to me. There’s a million possibilities of what you can do during a guided reading lesson with mini whiteboards, expo pens and expo erasers!

3. Magnets 

– I like to keep alphabet magnets in my caddie as an optional warm up activity before we start reading. Students can practice making their sight words with the magnets or I can say sounds while they put the word together. Again, many possibilities and always a good idea to have them just in case!

DIY: Guided Reading Caddies

4. Guided Reading Strategy Cards

– Before we dive into reading, I like to introduce or reinforce a reading strategy. I introduce these one at a time until students know and use them all. I keep the cards in my caddy and pull the one we are working on during that lesson. Students also have a reading strategy bookmark in their book bags to refer to. Get this freebie here!

5. Stickers to End the Lesson

– And, what is a kindergarten guided reading lesson without a sticker at the end to celebrate all our hard work!? On the first day we do guided reading groups, students get to pick a colored construction paper and we fold it in half (nothing fancy). These “books” are where they keep their stickers throughout the year. Students love filling up these sticker books and taking them home at the end of the year.

6. Guided Reading Binder 

– This item doesn’t exactly fit inside my caddie but it is probably the most important because it holds all my guided reading lessons! In my binder, I have my literacy center schedule of what group goes where on what day, my individual group guided reading lessons, student sight word progress data forms and student reading assessments. Find all these resources here.

How to Make Your Own Guided Reading Caddie

1. Pick any Storage Box – I chose mine from the dollar store but you can get them from Target, Walmart, the Container Store.. etc.

2. Jazz It Up – I recently bought myself a Cricut and I’ve been having a blast playing around with it so I used my Cricut to cut out vinyl and fancied my storage box that way. If you have a Cricut like me, it is super easy to just use Design Space, pick your favorite font and cut your vinyl. If you do not have a Cricut, you can jazz your caddie up with a laminated label! Find some freebie labels here.

DIY: Guided Reading Caddies

What do you put in your guided reading caddie?