We teach so many different skills to develop young readers. Here is my list of my top teaching printables and favorite free resources used this year in my guided reading groups. These have helped me focus on specific skills to teach how to read and meet student needs. I use these materials with small groups of students (4-6) who are demonstrating a similar reading level and generally similar strategies and skills.
However, I will mention that I sometimes will pull just 1-2 students from a group to work on a specific piece of a skill before calling the rest of the group to come over and join us. If they really aren’t getting something, I try to give them extra attention in this manner and then adjust the time spent with the whole group accordingly.
This is a change from how I taught my guided reading groups prior to our implementation of the Common Core standards. I use more of these games and activities as warm ups or for actual lesson so I can observe, redirect and then give them incredibly focused practice that we can then apply to a book or lesson the next time we gather. I don’t use these for center materials, just small group work. My centers are broader and differentiate themselves based on where students are at. Let me start by listing some of my top alphabet identification/recognition free activities.
Alphabet Identification / Recognition
Strategy Tip: Keep an alphabet chart handy for reference so they can say their abc’s in order to find a match if they have difficulty naming it. This is the alphabet version of the beginning reading strategy “What makes sense?” They use the alphabet chart and knowing the abc’s as their background knowledge/schema to draw from.
2. I Spy Zoo – I loved this activity from Marsha so much that I created another version for my class to use. This one features the beginning half of the alphabet and includes both upper and lowercase letters.
3. Alphabet Rock Paper Scissors – This is a twist on the classic game “rock paper scissors.” Use the cards for students to identify and then compare the symbols. This feels like a war game in the way it’s played and is handy to play with an alphabet chart nearby. Tip! Copy these cards onto colored construction paper to create sets that are easy to keep separate so that you can have multiple games going on at once with easy clean up.
4. Boo Card Game – This game is a simple one. It works where students pull a card and identify it. They keep it for identifying correctly as a point and there are additional cards that change up the rules for play to keep it interesting. I’m sure there are many versions of this game out there. This just happens to be a free one I came across from Sarah that works for us.
5. Flash Card Flash – This is a less “exciting” activity, but my students enjoy assessing themselves or working in partners so it works for us! We focus on one set of letters based on how I introduce them to the class. Each set features a combination of stroke formations and distinct sounds. Each student has their own set (only used with those struggling) and is copied onto colored construction paper.
They like to keep track of the number they get correctly and try to improve next time and if they use the strategy of finding it on the alphabet chart, it goes on yellow, but they can still get points for using a strategy. When they consider the cards they got right as “points” it becomes fun!
6. Letter Discrimination – This idea of using bingo daubers is a classic one. I use it once I’ve identified that we have 1-2 letters that are causing the most difficulty for a student and then use it specifically with them. They get one focus card. They they begin searching for the focus letter as they practice moving left to right and top to bottom along the letter grid. Once they find the focus letter, they have to identify it’s name before stamping it. I choose lots of letters that look similar to make this a challenge. We keep the focus card like a flash card and they use it in later warm up activities.
Coming Up in the Guided Reading Skill Group Materials Series:
I hope that you can use one or some of these ideas with your kinders in small groups! If you like what I do here on KindergartenWorks, then be sure to subscribe today. I look forward to sharing ideas with you weekly.
More Guided Reading
- kindergarten word work manipulative ideas
- developing phonemic awareness
- guided reading strategy checklist
- segmenting and blending hand motions
- kindergarten small group reading materials
- guided reading – space planning
- guided reading – guided setup
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