Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

3 Guided Reading Strategies to Teach K–1 Students

Editor's Note: This blog was previously published, we're re-sharing it today during the Holiday season.  

By Gaynell R. Jamison, Reading Specialist, Guest Blogger

Striving readers benefit from guided reading because prior knowledge can be used to successfully process reading texts, and it allows you to scaffold when the text becomes challenging. A student-teacher team effort is necessary when the aim is for kids to apply strategic behaviors and prompts to make meaning from the printed text. Keep reading because, in today's blog post, I'll describe three guided reading strategies that you can effectively teach kindergartners and first-graders.

Using Picture Cues with Wordless Books

This literacy strategy is extremely beneficial at the kindergarten level because of the vast levels of background knowledge that students enter with and can use during the emergent reading stage. The more opportunities students have to use illustrations or images, the richer the contributions your students will give through conversation, which will improve oral language development.

During the book orientation, you should give students a brief overview of what the story will be about or invite students to make predictions as they preview the pictures. By utilizing picture cues during the book orientation, you set the atmosphere for students to hypothesize what they think will happen in the story. This guided reading strategy supports making meaning and builds reading comprehension. This will allow students to make real-world connections and support their use of prior knowledge.


Having Fun is a great wordless book to utilize for this strategy. You can encourage your students to brainstorm and discuss different ways to have fun. After reading the title of the book, ask the students to share their opinions about what it means to have fun. Having fun can be on an individual level or with others. Be sure to share with your students what you do to have fun by yourself and with others too.


After reading this book with your students, ask each student to talk about some of the things that they do to have fun. Make a list of their responses. In addition to the activity referenced in the back of the book, make a second graph. Categorize the activities, but this time categorize things that can be done individually and things that can be done with others.

Making Predictions with a Level B Informational Text

Making predictions is another valuable kindergarten strategy that crosses grade levels. It is similar to using picture cues because struggling readers and fluent readers can bring prior experiences to problem-solve to make meaning of the printed text on the cover and pages within the leveled reader.

Student responses are typically based on their background knowledge and exposure. Because guided reading is generally a three-step process (before, during, and after), predicting is a strategy that is most appropriate before reading. It allows the students to use what they know and allows you to observe and assess student knowledge. Reading a part of the text and stopping to predict what might happen next is also another way to utilize this strategy. Students can use life situations, pictures, story characters, and events to make predictions.


Friends Together! is a story about a number of things that friends can do together and is a great way to help kids practice making predictions as a strategy. You can use the cover of the book and the pictures for a powerful book orientation to explain what together means. Then you can give them an example of something that can be done with someone else. Encourage students to share their thoughts and make a prediction on what they think the story will be about. Allow a few seconds for response time. Using page 2, ask students to predict what are some things that can be done with someone and alone. Jot down student responses on a chart.


After reading, revisit your students' responses to see if their predictions were things that happened in the story. Give students the opportunity to share some other things that they do with their friends. As a follow-up activity, you can have students make illustrations and write sentences below each one to make a class book about things done together with your friends.

One-to-One Matching with a Level D Narrative Text

One-to-one matching is a strategy that works for emergent readers in a guided reading lesson that is typically used at the beginning of first grade. Your students must be able to match the voice and the finger to the printed words in the text as they practice reading. This can also be gradually phased out as your students develop more reading fluency.

As you're modeling one-to-one correspondence, be sure that you are pointing clearly so that you are providing an example of what you want to see your students do. Big and Little is an excellent book you can use to teach kids about one-to-one correspondence. The spacing between words is helpful, and the images match the words in order to support children's efforts with problem-solving the text.

If there are students who have difficulty with one-to-one matching, you can try playing games with them to strengthen the concept. For example, you can place at least four or more blocks on the table and ask students to point to each block, one at a time. In the beginning, exaggerate the spacing between each block. Have students point and touch each block several times. The blocks can be counted when touched or named by color.

Be sure to keep visiting the Hameray blog for more great ideas! As a companion to this blog, check out my blog on using  running records to help kids practice the MSV cueing system, as well as ways to engage students in a word study and retelling with leveled books.


Gaynell R. Jamison is a reading specialist, children’s author, early childhood trainer, and pre-K director with 38 years of experience in education. She has studied extensively in the field of literacy with a specialty in teaching reading and administering reading programs as a former Reading Recovery Teacher and Reading Recovery Teacher Leader. She has served on two national committees for leveling books for Reading Recovery. She has a passion for children’s literature with an interest in early and emergent literacy acquisition and teaching young learners to become readers.