Guided Reading Activities

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Looking for activities to do during your guided reading groups? This lesson explains the overarching concepts of guided reading and provides ideas to practice accuracy, fluency and comprehension.

The Importance of Guided Reading

If you're like most teachers, you have a wide variety of reading levels in your classroom. Some students are more advanced readers, some on grade level, and some still developing. Guided reading is part of a balanced curriculum approach that allows you to work with small groups of students, focusing on the specific needs you identify. How do you know what to teach?

Observation and careful record keeping is the key. A baseline test or screening at the beginning of the year will give you necessary data on your students' reading abilities in three areas:

  • accuracy
  • fluency
  • comprehension

Students need to read words accurately, with a steady pace and voice, and understand what they read. Locate tools that allow you to measure these three areas in one reading, like a running record. This easy-to-use recording device allows you to listen as a student reads, and ask questions after, noting reading behaviors in all three areas.

Once these baseline scores are gathered, you can group your students according to their needs and begin working on guiding them to learning new skills.

When choosing activities to support your lessons, whether in a leveled group or a needs group, keep your focus on the students' specific needs within the overarching three categories: accuracy, fluency and comprehension. By tracking your students' behaviors and skills you will get a clear picture of what they need in order to move them to the next level as readers. Let's take a look.

Guided Reading Activities


No matter what level of reader you're working with, students need to read accurately. Emergent readers are still working on decoding many words, while advanced readers only a few. For that reason, most accuracy activities are geared for students learning and practicing decoding and focus on word work. Activities include:

  • Sight words - Create cards, on level or pulled from text your group is reading, and practice briefly each meeting. Have students copy onto their homework planner to practice at home.
  • Letter tiles - Place letter tiles for sight words, or sound patterns, you're focusing on in baggies. Ask students to build words, say them, then write on a white board. Create with paper for students to practice independently.
  • Chunky monkey - Use for chunking activities. Write letter 'chunks' (at, am, og) and give students letter tiles to build and write words.
  • Building words - Pre-cut letter tiles that can spell a series of words, smaller to larger. Give students words to build with tiles. For example, first build the word 'all'. Add on to 'all' to make the word 'ball'. Take away the 'll' to make 'bat', etc.
  • Strategy practice - As you give students strategies to use for decoding, like using pictures for clues, add to a poster and bookmark for students.


Students need to read at a steady speed in order to remember what they're reading. Their voice should match the text, including punctuation. As students' reading vocabulary increases and they gain confidence as readers, an urge to read quickly often emerges. Activities that encourage a steady pace and correct inflection can help.

  • Fluency task cards - Create a series of cards that include dialogue and varied punctuation. Have students pull a card, practice reading silently, then read aloud.
  • Silent phones - Use a curved plastic pipe or a store-bought silent reading phone for students to use when reading silently. They will be able to hear their own voice and make adjustments.
  • Record student reading - During guided reading, record students' reading. Replay and ask students to self-evaluate.
  • Voice jars - Write different expressions on craft sticks and place in a cup. Have students pull a stick and read the expression in different voices - sad, angry, excited.

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