The Guided Reading Tools You Need And The Helpful Way To Organize Them
My favorite times in the school day are always those that allow me to get to know my students personally. Those times when I could get to know their stories, their personalities, and their way of doing things. One of those kinds of times was always guided reading time. During guided reading time I was able to work with students in small groups and really get to know them as learners.
Because I wanted to capitalize on every minute I had with each group of students, it was important for me to be organized ahead of time, so that the entire time I was with the students I could be focused on each of them and their learning. Through many years of trial and error, I finally found an organization system that worked perfectly not only for me, but for the students as well.
**This blog post contains affilliate links to Amazon. This means if you purchase from these links on Amazon, I make a small percentage of the purchase.
The best way I found to organize my guided reading materials for the students was to make individual bins for each student that would be at the table. (So depending on the size of your groups, you would want to plan for 4-6 bins.) The bins that worked best for my first graders were the Help Yourself Book Bins from Lakeshore Learning. These bins are durable, come in multiple colors (bright and neon), and are THE PERFECT SIZE for all our goodies! (5” high; top measures 7” x14” and bottom measures 5 3/4” x 11 3/8”)
I really, really like the fact that they come in different colors, and that they come in the MOST COMMON, POPULAR colors, so that I can color-coordinate the materials inside. This is not ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY, however, I have found for my sanity, it makes clean up and organization 100 times easier!
dry erase pockets
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these Dry Erase Pockets from Bullseye’s Playground at Target. They are perfect for activity sheets in every subject, and the best part is that you can just store the pages you use often, one on top of the other right in the pocket! This particular Sound Boxes Page is from my friend Emily at Polka Dots Please.
2. guided reading books
What is nice about individual bins for each student is you can keep the book you are working on right in the bin. You can switch it out for different groups (this would be the only thing you would have to switch out), or, you could just keep one of each book you are using for the week in each bin. The students then would just pull out the book that matches the group they are in.
3. dry erase boards and magnetic letters
I got these dry erase boards and pencil pouches at Dollar Tree, and the magnetic letters possibly at Target a few years ago. These particular boards aren’t magnetic, but I still used them for building words with the letters as well as writing on with the dry erase markers. It was just nice to have a separate surface for them to build on, so they could differentiate between the letters we were focusing on and the “extra letters”.
4. a pocketful of writing tools
A separate pouch for all things writing…. crayons, dry erase marker, pencil, highlighter, post it notes. I am a firm believer that teaching organization skills to kids when they are young is so important to their well being as an adult.
5. alphabet and phonics sound charts
These Alphabet Phonics Sound Charts are an absolute FAVORITE in my classroom! My students have their own individual set of reference cards at their seat, as well as, having a set in their guided reading bin when they come to the small group table. Having these tools at their fingertips, and knowing how to use them, really makes a difference for those reluctant readers and writers!
6. a pocketful of fun and engaging reading tools
The pocketful of reading tools brings all the MAGIC to the guided reading table! These are the little things that make first graders get EXTRA EXTRA excited about reading! Let’s face it…not every kid feels confident as a reader, therefore not every kid comes to school “excited” about reading. Part of our job is to help them change that perspective by teaching them the skills they need to sustain themselves as readers, and therein giving them the confidence they need to succeed. Kids naturally LOVE toys, gadgets, silliness…come to think of it…MOST TEACHERS naturally LOVE toys, gadgets, and silliness…so it just makes sense to bring in a little of that MAGIC whenever we can!
let’s take a closer look at what’s inside…
As I find new goodies, I add them to the bags, but currently, the MAGICAL components in my guided reading bins are:
squishy, stretchy caterpillars for stretching sounds in words *This is an affiliate link for Amazon, but also check the birthday party supply aisle in stores like Target, Walmart, and Dollar Tree.
clappers for clapping out sounds and syllables *This is an affiliate link for Amazon, but also check the birthday party supply aisle in stores like Target, Walmart, and Dollar Tree.
silly eyeball finger puppets to use for pointing out words, letters, and sounds *This is an affiliate link for Amazon, but also check the birthday party supply aisle in stores like Target, Walmart, and Dollar Tree.
witch finger pointer for pointing out words, letters, and sounds *This is an affiliate link for Amazon, but also check the birthday party supply aisle in stores like Target, Walmart, and Dollar Tree.
star swizzle sticks for scooping up words while reading *This is an affiliate link for Amazon, but also check the birthday party supply aisle in stores like Target, Walmart, and Dollar Tree.
flashlights for flashlight Friday reading, and spotlighting words, letters and phrases *This is an affiliate link for Amazon, but also check the birthday party supply aisle in stores like Target, Walmart, and Dollar Tree.
individual sand timers for independent reading assignments *This is an affiliate link for Amazon, and I really like this set because it comes with an assortment of different time limits to choose from.
7. whisper phones
Homemade whisper phones! So cheap and easy to make! You can pick up the pieces you need at any local hardware store. For each whisper phone you need: 1 1/4” plastic sink trap J-bend with a compression nut on each end.
Students hold this up to their ear and mouth, like a phone, and whisper read into it. The kids love hearing their voices coming from these phones! It is a great way for students to practice fluency and expression!
8. retelling gloves
A retelling glove in each bin is a MUST! My first graders LOVE using these when they retell what they have read. It’s a great visual to help them remember what to talk about and think back about, but it also is, in itself, a great reminder to do the retelling/thinking when they are done reading. You can get the gloves from any home improvement store, and the labels and instructions to make the gloves are in my TPT store!
9. answer buzzers
These Answer Buzzers add so much fun to the guided reading table, and to the classroom in general! Students can “buzz” in when they are ready to answer a question, or when they finish their reading or their assigned work, giving your guided reading groups a game show feel! I use these for lots of different game opportunities in my classroom. Learning Resources Answer Buzzers- Set of 4. *This is an affiliate link for Amazon.
10. sight word/ most common words cards
These Sight Word Flashcards are the perfect practice tool for guided reading time. Students not only see the word in isolation, but have the opportunity to practice the word in the context of an easy to read sentence. In my classroom, students have their own individualized ring of words that need practiced to keep at their seats as well as a set to take home. Depending on the goal of the guided reading lesson, I may have them bring their individualized cards with them to the group time, or I might just have them practice reading from the full set of cards in the bin. These cards are from my Sight Word Flashcard and Assessment set on TPT.
I hope you found some ideas here today that are helpful to you! What other tools do you use at guided reading time and what is your system of organization? I would love to hear from you!
Are you interested in ways to organize your guided reading teaching materials? Check out this blog post for tips and ideas!
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