Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

5 Ways to Differentiate with Wordless Books

This is a guest blog post by teacher blogger Charity Preston. If you like what you read here, check back for more of her guest blog posts, or visit her over on   The Organized Classroom Blog !

Wordless books are perfect for students of all ages and classrooms. They can be used in so many different options and can challenge even your most advanced reader! Here are five ways to use them in your curriculum:

1. Younger students can “read” an older student the story. 
So many times, it is kindergarten or first grade students who are sitting and listening to a book.  How fun will it be for each child to be able to turn the tables and do the reading to someone who already knows how to read? In particular, those with reading disabilities will love this option.

2. Have students draw out a retelling of the book.  Perfect for centers, students can read the book independently and then use a blank paper to draw out a retelling.

3. Advanced readers can write an alternate ending.    Challenge your high performers to write out a different ending in complete sentences. It will really get those learners engaged and thinking at a higher level.

4. Pair up students and have the groups use a manipulative such as play-doh or stick puppets to put on a “play” for another group.  Each group will love being able to perform their story for an audience. With each group having a different book, it will be a great way to showcase lots of different book themes.

5. Students can record audio or video of themselves “reading” the story.  For your students who still struggle with completing sentences on paper, the differentiation strategy will help to build up that vocabulary and begin to put sentences   together  in a way that doesn’t involve the stress of knowing how to form the letters on paper.

Using wordless books as a part of your curriculum can make a huge difference in increasing student vocabulary, forming complete sentences, and adding information to their background knowledge. It encourages those students who struggle with phonics and word formation to be able to read independently as a transition to pre-primer books.  But they can also challenge even the best of readers by forcing them to think outside of the written words and really develop the theme of the book.

Two great wordless book options are the eight  Zoozoo Into the Wild  Wordless books (which pair with informational and narrative texts featuring the same animals) and also the  My World series , which offers ten wordless books, in addition to forty other informational texts leveled A–F.  See a wordless book set with all eighteen wordless books by clicking here.


Charity Preston, MA, is the editor and creator of several websites, including   The Organized Classroom Blog ,   Classroom Freebies , and   Teaching Blog Central , among others. She received her undergraduate degree in early childhood education from Bowling Green State University, OH and a Master in Curriculum and Instruction from Nova Southeastern University, FL, as well as a gifted endorsement from Ohio University. She taught third grade in Lee County, FL for several years before relocating back to her hometown as a gifted intervention specialist. You can see all her projects at   www.PENGroupOnline.com .


For more information on the   Zoozoo Into the Wild   and   My World series , click the images below to download information sheets with series highlights and key features.