Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

Fun Ideas for Guided Reading Tools—with FREE Download!

This is a guest post by blogger Amanda Ross.  If you like what you see here, you can check out her blog,  First Grade Garden , for more of her writing.  

I’m back again! It’s Amanda from   First Grade Garden . I’m here today to share with you a look into my guided reading tool basket! I will show you a few activities that we do during reading and after reading, using some books from the Joy Cowley Early Birds  series. These books are perfect for guided reading because they have stories that appeal to young readers, they are leveled, and they cover a variety of phonics skills!

In first grade, there are still many readers who struggle with one-to-one correspondence. To help practice this skill, we use a variety of fun tools to help students concentrate on matching their reading to the words in the story. Here are a few of our favorite tools (all of them are dollar-store finds!):



Magnetic letters are an essential tool in any classroom! I don’t think it matters what type you use. I have a variety of different sizes and styles. We use letters to make and break sight words, practice word families, sound out CVC words, and more.

Cat and Rat   is a story that lead to a great mini lesson on the -at word family. By using magnetic letters, we could easily change out the beginning letter to make new words. I love my sound-box cards too. They are double sided with three boxes on one side and four boxes on the other, for practicing blends. They are laminated so we can use magnetic letters, letter tiles, or dry erase markers. You can download them for free at the end of this post.


Each of my students has a guided reading notebook. It is just a cute cover on colored paper with blank, white paper bound together. The blank pages make it easy to do any activity—cut apart sentences, writing and drawing, and word work activities. After we read a new book, we usually do a word-work or writing activity in our notebook.

After reading the book   Zoo Book , we noticed that both words in the title had double o’s but they made two different sounds. So using another of my favorite tools (colored sticky dots), we made a T-chart of words that had the same /oo/ sound as zoo or book. Colored dot stickers can also be used to spell sight words or CVC words.


And the last tool to share with you (something we use ALL THE TIME) is sticky notes! Fun shapes, fun colors, repositionable—what’s not to love? We use them for writing notes in our books, for finding things in our book (such as a punctuation scavenger hunt), or for writing and word-work activities. In this example, we created a beginning/middle/end story map for the book Cat and Rat.

I hope I’ve given you a few ideas to try with your guided reading groups.   Come over to my blog to see some more guided reading tools and lesson ideas ! You can download some guided reading freebies below. In the file, you will find a guided reading notebook cover and the 3- and 4-letter sound boxes.


Amanda Ross is a first-grade teacher in Canada. She has been teaching for seven years. The last three years have been in first grade, and that’s where she plans to stay! She is currently on maternity leave with her daughter Zoe, but she will be heading back to first grade in September. You can find her over at her teaching blog,  First Grade Garden .


To learn more about   Joy Cowley Early Birds , click the series highlights image below to download information sheets with key features To download the freebie, click the image to the right.