Guided reading is a method used to introduce and reinforce reading skills that are usually taught during one-on-one reading time. Rather than a replacement, guided reading is most often used in addition to occasional one-on-one reading time as a way to spend more focused time on important skills when individual time isn’t possible.
Guided reading is a standardized process that sorts students into different reading levels that need similar types and degrees of instruction. Once that’s done, each group is taught one at a time while the other groups work together or on their own with some light supervision and assistance when needed.
This is a great opportunity for a teaching assistant (if you have one in the classroom) to either support the larger groups’ activities or work with groups individually in their own guided reading lessons.
You can work on the following guided reading activities with your students or assign them to your students to work on individually or in their groups!
Connect to the Story with Memory
A quick way to build empathy is to draw attention to similarities between people—this even works with characters who are bad guys! Remind students of a specific event from the book and ask them to write about a time when they had a similar experience.
You can make this activity as challenging as you want based on the events you choose to ask students to empathize with! Sure, it’s a decent bet most kids can easily relate to having an argument with a bratty sibling, but how well can they find a comparison from their own lives that matches up to the melancholic ennui of the pigeon who really, really, really wants to drive the bus (but should absolutely not be allowed to do that)?
Predict the Future
Introduce a new book to your classroom by sharing the cover and reading the title, author and any other text on the cover like a tagline or blurbs. Ask your students to write down a prediction about what they think the story will be about.
What is the cover showing? What does the title suggest? Have they read any other books by the author? After giving them a chance to make their guesses, read the summary on the back of the book and ask how close they all got!
Another variation of this activity involves keeping a reading journal. Ask students to write down their predictions for what will happen in the next chapter in the reading journal after they finish each chapter.
Do your students like words? We hope so because we think words and language are really cool! Any time you’re reading a book that includes new, interesting vocabulary words (and we hope that’s every book!), consider giving your students a bit of additional time to copy down words from the book that they like and want to know more about. After learning the word’s definition, they’re ready to start trying these words out in their own writing!
Are you Enjoying this Content?
Make Your Own Dictionary
Building on the previous activity, future word nerds in your classroom may enjoy keeping a list of words and their definitions as they learn them. If this list is kept digitally, they can also alphabetize as they add new words, but lists kept in a notebook can be very interesting to look back at later since you can see the order in which new words were learned.
As a bonus tip, we recommend copying down the whole sentence, not just the one word, because having the context will make it easier to remember in the future.
Make a List, Then Make It Your Own
To help develop your students’ appreciation of written language, literary techniques and patterns more fully, ask your students to make a list of phrases they like from the story as they read. Draw their attention in particular to the trickier parts of writing like sentence beginnings, transitional phrases and abstract language.
Once they have a list of phrases, the next step is changing the details, rearranging words, turning the character’s shirt from green to yellow and anything else students want to do to make the phrase their own.
The point here is to take inspiration from those who are skilled at their work and not just copy the work and try to pass it off as their own. Encourage your students to focus on the parts of the phrase that can be changed to sound the way they’d express the same idea.
Review the Book
Encourage students to write honest reviews of the books you read in class and the books they read at home if they’d like. Keeping a document or a notebook full of their thoughts about what they’ve read will help them remember those books better and be able to see more patterns and form more connections between other books and other media they experience.
Another way to use this activity is to do the same thing, except to collect your students’ book reviews into a classbook! Classbooks are excellent keepsakes for your classroom, and you can create one for free using one of our publishing kits! Collecting your students’ reviews into a classbook will turn them into published authors themselves.
Update the Cover
Explain to your students the different elements of a book cover and why certain choices are made about the different elements (such as which characters are featured on the cover and how those characters look). Next, ask your class about the books they’re currently reading, either for class or outside of class. Ask them whether they think the cover of the book gives a good idea of what to expect from the story. Why or why not?
After discussing, challenge your students to redesign the book cover to be more like what they imagine the cover should be. Ask them to share their redesigned covers with the class, then ask them to talk about the differences between the actual book cover and the cover they’ve designed. What makes their cover better?
Comic Strip or Scene Storyboard
Choose a scene from the book—or ask your students to choose a scene—to draw either as a comic strip or a short storyboard as if the scene will be filmed. For the best results, scenes that include a lot of movement and action translate better to visuals and any text included should be short and precise in its meaning.
Display the finished drawings for the whole class to look at and for some nonsense fun, imagine it’s all one big continuous story laid out across the wall.
Show your class fliers advertising exotic travel locations, then challenge them to create one of their own for the book they’re reading! Ask your students what important events or local landmarks in the story a travel flier might want to advertise and have them write a short paragraph of ad copy to include on their flier.
They can take the assignment seriously with an ad suggesting readers visit the character’s small town during a popular town festival, or they can get a little more silly and advertise something as specific as listing the character’s room as an Airbnb rental!
A Rose by Any Other Name…
How important is the main character’s name to their story? Would anything change if the main character’s name was different? What would be the best name for the main character if they had to go into witness protection and get a new one?
After your students have chosen the perfect new name for the main character, challenge them to explain their choice for the best name. Why is it better than the character’s original name? Does this change anything about the character? Is a name just a name or is a name something more?
Have students draw a basic graph with chapter numbers on the x-axis and a scale of emotions on the y-axis.
Next, have them choose a character to focus on through the story—usually this will be the main character of the story, but depending on the story, young learners might be able to learn a lot by focusing on a different character that sticks with the protagonist throughout the story.
As they read the book, ask them to pause at the end of each chapter to plot the emotions of the character they’re focusing on.
Once they’ve finished the book, they can look at the wild ups and downs the character experienced and even label the graph with important story events!
Write the Sequel
After finishing the book, challenge your students to write the beginning of a sequel to the story. What’s the next thing that will happen to the main character? Is there another character in the story your students think is deserving of the main character treatment? How will the main character of the sequel be different from the main character of the book you’ve just read? What have they learned during the story that will change them in the future?
Borrowing characters and ideas from existing works of fiction (or reality) is a useful way to practice writing. Since starting writing can often be the hardest part, continuing on from something that’s already been started can be a fantastic way to get around these types of writing blocks.
Write a Letter to the Author
Our last guided reading activity that’s a lot of fun is having your students write a letter to the author of the story they’re reading! Beyond thanking the author for writing such a fun and entertaining story, they can think about any question they might want to ask, tell the author what they learned from reading the book in class or share the part of the book they enjoyed the most.
You can take this activity to the next level by actually mailing the letters and see whether or not the author writes back to your students!
Create a Book with Your Classroom
You can help your class create their very own classbook and become published authors by using one of our FREE classbook publishing kits! Simply sign up online, and we’ll provide everything you need to publish your students’ writing and illustrations, including any help you need along the way.
Writing and illustrating a book together is just the beginning—the real fun is watching your students’ excitement as you unbox the results of their hard work, and you already know your classroom copy will become a favorite during reading time! Parents can also order copies so your students will have a meaningful keepsake for years to come.
You can also check out our blog and online Teacher’s Lounge for more writing activities, lesson plans and teaching strategies. Now that you have a collection of fun and beneficial guided reading activities, your students will be even better prepared to meet their education goals and achieve future success!