Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

Classic Post: A Literacy Tip—Puzzle Piece Match-Ups
This is a guest post by Richard Giso that originally ran in spring 2014. Click here to see his other posts. You could also check out his blog, called Mr. Giso's Room to Read, in which he writes about fun classroom activities, behavior management, and classroom management.


Hello again, It’s Rich from Mr. Giso’s Room to Read. I’m back with another idea to add to your “literacy toolbox.” As always, this tip it teacher tested and approved by yours truly.

Are you looking for an easy way to reinforce a feature of informational text and boost your readers’ comprehension? Try this activity. You will need a nonfiction reader (with an index in the back), a scissors, a writing tool, and some index cards.

This project is a terrific follow up after a guided reading lesson. Begin by referring readers back to the index. Have them select a certain number of key topics listed in the index. I use many titles from the Download series for this. They are perfect for my advanced second-grade readers. Even my most reluctant readers gravitate towards these titles in my library.

>> CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT DOWNLOAD SERIES <<

Divide index cards in half. I like to get a little creative so that they resemble puzzle pieces. See these examples below. They have some key words from an index on them.

Using the book’s index, readers look up a set number of key words or phrases and put together a sentence or two that defines them. The index will help your readers navigate through the text. In this example below, my reader today put on one side the term “hedgehog” (listed in the index) with the phrase “eats at night” (evidence from the text).

Repeat this for many index cards. Then, have students cut the pieces and place them in a bag. For follow up, have readers swap books and bags of puzzle pieces. Partners reassemble the index card halves as they read to monitor their comprehension of the text. With spring in the air, I developed this strategy to keep my readers motivated and attentive to important terms while reading. Have fun with this literacy tip.

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I'm a proud teacher with over 15 years of teaching experience. I began my teaching career as a fourth grade teacher at the Bates Elementary School in Salem, Massachusetts. Since then, I have taught fourth grade for eight years. From there, I moved to a job as a reading coach under the Reading First grant. Having missed my true passion—having a classroom of my own—I returned to teaching as a first grade teacher for the next five years.

Now I've moved to the Carlton Innovation School, also in Salem, Massachusetts, where I am ready to begin my first year as a member of a team of four teachers that teach grades one and two. In addition, I teach undergraduate and graduate students at Salem State University. My courses involve literacy, children's literature, and elementary education. My educational interests include early literacy, effective reading interventions, and positive classroom climates.

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For more information on the Download series, which was used in this activity, click here to visit our website, or click the series highlights image below to download an information sheet with key features.

Download Series Highlights