Wednesday 19 November 2014

A Peak Into My Guided Reading Toolbox

Reading is probably one of my favourite things to teach in first grade. It is amazing the progress that these little first graders make over the course of a school year. Even if they don't make it to the end of Grade One goal (for us it is Level I/16), the lowest of readers can still make some sort of progress. It could be learning to track words or recognizing a few simple sight words or just making it to the next reading level! I always celebrate every little and big read achievement because I want my students to feel success in reading. My favourite moment in the journey of a reader happens at about Level 5/D. It seems like they gain confidence as a reader and just start to take off from there! Of course, every student is different, but it's always a joy to see them feel proud of their accomplishments.

Anyways, onto the meat of this post. I have been seeing some AH-MAZ-ING guided reading toolkits on Pinterest and other blogs, and I was inspired to put together my own! When I saw Mel D's (from Seusstastic Classroom Inspiration) pink Craftsman toolbox that she uses to hold all of her small group goodies {see hers here}, I knew I needed to get one of those toolboxes! {Now for the silly part of the story... I found that they sold those toolboxes at Kmart, BUT we don't have any Kmarts left here in Manitoba, Canada! So when my parents went on a weekend trip to the States this past summer, I asked my mom very nicely to stop at a Kmart and pick me up one. And she did! Isn't she the best??} Anywho, I put together my toolbox with all the goodies that I use during small group time, so they are all in one place! Take a peak into my toolbox...

A. Dry Erase Markers (with pom poms hot glued to lids as erasers... genius! no need for dirty socks, kleenex, or erasers!) -- we use these on mini whiteboards and laminated work pages {I'm thinking about putting some dry erase circles on my horseshoe table too... as seen in this pin}

B. Pencils and Erasers (so students don't need to waste time going back to their table for a pencil) -- we use these to write in our Guided Reading journals

C. Highlighters -- for highlighting words/sound chunks in our Guided Reading journals or for use on sight word/phonics worksheets

D. Glue Sticks -- for working in our Guided Reading journals (cut and paste/mixed up sight words or sentences)

E. Letter Boxes -- double-sided (3 letter boxes on one side, 4 letter boxes on the other), laminated cards for practicing writing CVC or CCVC/CVCC words, could also be used as phoneme boxes (use counters to push sounds)

F. Blank Index Cards -- for writing notes, cutting and mixing up sight words, etc.

G. Alphabet Charts -- half-page alphabet charts for students who need to practice to letter sounds; the reverse side has common long vowel sounds

H. Tiara -- again, I totally stole Mel D's idea of using a tiara as her "Don't Interrupt Me!" signal! I used to tell my students that I was wearing my invisible hat when I was working with a group... but a tiara is so much more fun than an invisible hat! Check out my cutie modelling it for me. Can you believe this little munchkin is almost 8 months old? Where has the time gone! She is now crawling and standing on furniture and on the verge of standing on her own! Slow down, bébé!

I. Scissors -- always important and always hard to find a pair when you need them

J. Stickers -- for rewarding hardworking students or celebrating mini successes

K. Mini Magnifying Glasses (found at a party supply store in the goodie bag toy aisle) -- use these for finding certain sight words or word endings or punctuation

L. Dice -- use with games such as "Roll A Sight Word" (awesome editable freebie from Learning With Mrs. Parker)

 M. Sight Word Cards -- three different sets of sight word cards to practice and play games with (Dolch Pre-primer, Primer, and First Grade). Love the idea of sticking labels onto bright coloured cardstock {idea from Maria at Kinder Craze}

N. Glow-in-the-Dark Pointer Fingers -- novelty toy to help students track writing... love these glow-in-the-dark ones (less witchy than the green ones!)

O. Toy Cars -- can also be used to help track or to practice stretching out sounds in words {I also have these awesome sight word roads from Kristen Smith's (from A Day in First GradeGuided Reading Made Easy For Kinders pack that kiddos can drive the car down the road and read the words it passes}

P. Reading Strategy Bookmarks -- these are the strategies we use... I love the songs from Teacher Tipster... and I have all the beanie babies to go with them. Sometimes the beanie babies sit with a student who demonstrated the strategy during the lesson.

Q. Stamps & Post-Its -- reward self-inking stamps for "marking" Guided Reading journals and post-its for... a million different things!

R. Googly Eye Rings (see photo above) -- another print tracking tool

S. Laser Finger Pointers (see photo above) -- another print tracking tool

T. Mini Slinkies (see photo above) -- perfect for s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g out sounds in words

U. Task Cards -- three sets of cards from Rachelle Smith's (from What the Teacher Wants) Guided Reading Mini-Lessons pack... fiction story questions, non-fiction story questions, and fluency practice cards

V. Writing Strips -- these awesome writing strips make for an excellent warm-up activity... they are from Tara West at Little Minds at Work {I got the Writing Strips Bundled... it covers CVC words, blends, digraphs, vowel teams, and she has some free alphabet ones!}

Well that's it for me tonight! I hope this post has inspired you to make the most of your guided reading group time! Is there anything missing from my toolbox that you would suggest? I do have some highlighter finger pointers and some sand timers for fluency that I have to dig out of a box somewhere to stick in here too! :) Until next time!!


  1. This is awesome!!! Love how organized you are!

  2. ok...first off I used to live in Manitoba and yup kmart went away, now I am in I am so jealous!!! lol, thank you so much for laying out what is in my one day toolkit (probably a dollar store bucket :( for now )!!! Thank you this was great. and your little one looks fab in the tiara!!!! Thumbs up!!!!!!

  3. love this teaching toolbox. It is filled with so many great activities. I have many of these but discovered a few new ones. Thanks for the shout out. I am so glad your kids like Roll a Sight Word.

  4. I Appreciate you sharing your ideas. I absolutely love your phoneme box idea. I will definitely be using it for my support group during word study. Thank you :)

  5. Where did you find those little cases for your sight words?? :)

    Thank so much for sharing.... love all your posts.

  6. Wow, you ROCK! I love your toolbox idea and you have lots of tools I don't have in mine. Thanks for inspiring me!

  7. This is amazing! I am having a hard time downloading the freebies as it is going straight to pinterest - any ideas?

    1. Yes, the pin it button automatically pops up in the middle of all pictures. If you click the sides of the picture where the flower does not appear, it should take you to the link with the freebies.

  8. Where do you store your toolbox when not in use? I am in a portable classroom with very little space, and I'm just trying to picture where I'd keep it. Thanks, and great ideas!!!

    1. I was lucky to have a big long counter behind my guided reading table, so I had baskets for each of reading groups on top along with my toolbox. I won't have that in my new classroom next year, so I have one of those tall rainbow drawer carts from Michaels that I might use. I can keep my books for each group in the drawers and then keep my toolbox on top. :) The best thing is it's on wheels, so I can roll it around to have it closer or to tuck it out of the way. One of these types of units. Hope that helps!