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Guided Reading Book Study {Chapter 4}

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Welcome back for the latest installment of the Freebielicious study of The Next Step in Guided Reading by Jan Richardson. This week we are examining Chapter 4: Early Readers and I am honored to be one of the hostesses of the event. At the end of my post, keep scrolling down to find a linky filled with reflections and ideas from other bloggers about instruction for Early Readers.
Summer Book Study: Early Guided Reading Ideas
Jan Richardson does such an amazing job of laying out all of the details, procedures, and materials that a teacher needs to implement each phase of guided reading, I decided to take a different spin with this post and illustrate some of the materials I will be using this year in my Early Guided Reading Groups.

Sounds like fun, right?

Organizing Materials for Guided Reading

I place all of the materials that I need for each guided reading group together in the same container. I love these book bins from Really Good Stuff because they come in a variety of colors. I actually assign a different colored box to each group. In this example, the early guided reading group is my “yellow box group.” Yup. That’s what I call them.
guided reading supplies
Now that you see the neat and tidy finished project, let me show you a messy sample of what’s in the box.  A little overwhelming, right? Ok, here are the pieces Jan Richardson recommends and an explanation of how I intend to use them this fall.
The Next Step in Guided Reading book study

Student Texts

Let’s start simple. I always grab enough books for every child in the group, plus an extra one for me. I let my students take their guided reading books home each night and the extra copy comes in handy if someone leaves their copy at home after the first night.
The Next Step in Guided Reading... supplies for Early Readers


According to Jan, guided reading groups should only last for 20 minutes each. Mine ALWAYS seem to take 30 minutes. Always. This year I plan to stick within the allotted time frame for each portion of the guided reading lesson and these timers are going to help me. This set of sand timers from Lakeshore includes many different increments of time. I also have a set of giant sand timers in my classroom. Perhaps they will help me stay on schedule.
Use a sand timer to keep guided reading moving quickly

Dry Erase Materials

I keep one small dry erase board in the box of materials for myself. My students use write and wipe materials, but not actually dry erase boards (Five extra boards are too heavy and thick. I simply don’t have that much space to spare in my little box of guided reading supplies.)

Instead, I created these materials from clear report covers with duct tape to seal 3 of the 4 sides. I left and open slit in the top and place various kinds of paper inside. In this instance, one side is blank and the other has lined spaces for writing sight words. Sounds boxes would be very simple to slide in as well on the days we work on segmenting and blending sounds.

Each student also receives a dry-erase marker. Erasers are too much of a hassle to distribute. (My guided reading time is precious and I don’t want to waste a second of it.) I simply hot glued a fuzzy ball onto the cap of each marker. It makes materials easier to manage and my students think the fuzzy markers are fun to use.
clear report covers lined with duct tape with white paper inside... cheaper and lighter than whiteboards

Sight Word Work

Working on sight words is an important component of my guided reading groups. Jan Richardson recommends using a separate sight word chart nearby for each guided reading group to use as a reference. Since each group of students is working on different sight words, it is valuable for the students to have a list that references ONLY the words of significance to them. I understand and love the significance of having easy access to sight words we have practiced together during guided reading but the practical aspects of maintaining the chart are difficult. Most charts designate equal amounts of space to each letter of the alphabet (and we all know that the “T” and “S” space will fill up long before the “Q” or “Z” space.) Instead of using a traditional sight word chart, each student will receive a personalized dictionary. Each time a new sight word is learned during guided reading, students will record the new word on the appropriate page of his/her writing dictionary.
student writing dictionary for guided reading
Each page in the Student Writing Dictionary is designated for a different letter of the alphabet with nine blank spaces for recording words. Supplemental lists are also included in the book (Days of the Week, Months, Family Members, etc.) It is designed to be double-sided copied on 8.5×11″ paper and folded in half to create a book. The Student Writing Dictionary can be purchased for $3.50 on Teachers Pay Teachers. The download also includes instructions for assembly.

Picture Sorts and Word Study

I will be the first one to admit that I do not do enough picture sorts during guided reading time. I’m really great at word study and leading students as they substitute and change letters to form new words. I don’t have great materials for picture studies (and until now I was lacking the motivation). One day, I will solve my materials issue. Until that day arrives, I discovered these Take It To Your Seat literacy center kits from Evan-Moor that I purchased and assembled years ago (before I fell headfirst into the wonderful world of TpT). They may not be perfect, but they are a great starting point for me as I gear up for an improved year of guided reading instruction.
Take It To Your Seat Literacy Center Kits

Making Words

In the past, I skipped picture sorts because I always gravitated right to my comfort zone of making words during guided reading. This activity is super-simple to prep ahead of time. I pre-select the words we will be building in class, added all of the necessary letters to a “making words” envelope for each student and was ready to go! The letters shown in the photo were a resources in the back of my school’s old consumable phonics books. I removed all of the letters from each book, laminated and cut them apart, then sorted them alphabetically for easy access.

Jan Richardson also makes this process super-simple for the busy teacher. The back pages of The Next Step in Guided Reading offer lists of suggested words, skills, and strategies for each guided reading level. These snapshots were taken from page 278.

Guided Writing

Day two of meeting with a guided reading group includes time for guided writing. This usually consists of students recording a sentence that I dictate. As Jan suggestions, I select sentences that relate to the text, includes plenty of sight words and some unknown words for students to stretch and attempt independently. I constructed simple writing books for each student from notebook paper which I cut down to 4.5×6″ and bound with a construction paper front and back cover.

Each time students complete the writing assignment, I try to record the date below their work so I can track each student’s progress over time.
The Next Step in Guided Reading
Proper spacing is a skill I emphasize during our guided writing time. My students LOVE using a spaceman from Really Good Stuff as a reminder to leave a space between each word.
The Next Step in Guided Reading

Writing Supplies

I store all pencils, dry-erase markers, and spacemen in a coffee mug. The coffee mug does not get placed in the book box with the other materials for guided reading. This always sits out on my desk so all groups can access the materials when they meet with me.
The Next Step in Guided Reading

It’s a Blog Hop!

Now that you have some ideas for managing your materials for Early Readers during guided reading, be sure to stop by my fabulous Freebielicious friends’ blogs for more great ideas. I am co-hosting this linky with Caitlin from Kindergarten Smiles, Lydia from Kinder Alphabet and Krissy from Mrs. Miner’s Monkey Business.

Guided Reading Blog Hop
Guided Reading Blog Hop
Guided Reading Blog Hop

Use the linky to share your own ideas and insights for Early Guided Reading instruction (or to get more ideas from other bloggers participating in the book study!)

Looking Ahead to Next Week…

Summer Book Study: Transitional Guided Reading

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Maria Gavin

Maria is a former kindergarten and first grade teacher, with 13 years of teaching experience. Her love and passion for all things early childhood is now fulfilled as a mom to two amazing kids. She loves sharing practical and creative tips and ideas that are perfect for young learners – in the classroom or at home!

Leave a Comment

9 Responses

  1. I have my book and have jumped aboard! Thank you for the time you put into your posts. They will help my peeps this next year. I too struggle with the time part. That really has been what has been sticking in my mind as to how to make that happen. Thanks for the graduated timer idea.

  2. Thanks for helping others and for all the time you put into this blog! I used many of your ideas when I taught but do not know how to share it like you do. You are so creative and make things look wonderful. I would love to learn to create materials like yours to share with others since I am retired now. Thanks again for great ideas, activities, and tips!
    Mrs. Charlotte Jackson and

  3. Hi Maria, This post was perfect for the books that we reviewed recently at Stacking Books. We are thick into reading the Elephant and Piggie series meant for early readers. My post talks about the benefits of reading this series of books. DD absolutely loves them and we highly recommend them 🙂

  4. While you are meeting with your group I assume your students are in stations. Do you have your table included in the rotations that they visit in a structure or do you have them rotate among a set number and you pull groups/students as needed?

    1. Hi Kelley,
      I actually do a modified version of the Daily 5 in my classroom. The entire class is engaged in literacy activities while I meet with my group (usually Read to Self, Listen to Reading, or Word Work. I love the Daily 5 because it requires minimal prep from me and my students always know exactly what to do. Plus, they enjoy it!

      1. Do you base your groups off behavior or reading level? How do you manage the students “missing” out on the station/center while they are with you?

        Thank you for answering my questions! I love your blog and have so much to learn from you!

        1. The students that see me are grouped according to their reading level (I use DRA assessments to determine their reading levels). They rest of the class generally does Read to Self, but I allow some students to listen to a story on our mp3 players and complete a response sheet or use our classroom typewriters during this time. I keep a checklist so I know which students have listened to the mp3 players or typewriters. That is just my effort to maintain fairness.

          I definitely do not do all 5 activities in one day. I teach half day kindergarten and there simply is not time. I meet with one group of kids for 20-30 minutes and we use that time for 1 daily 5 activity. It’s the best I can do with my time constraints.

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Hi, I'm Maria.

I’m a former kindergarten teacher turned work-from-home mom. I still love sharing ideas and resources to make teaching easier, so you can focus on what really matters in the classroom. When I’m not working on the blog, you’ll find me chasing kids around the house with a cold cup of coffee in my hand (some things never change even once you’re out of the classroom!)


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