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Hello! I am excited to go into more depth about some of my favorite things.....guided reading and animal strategies!! Today we are going to talk about my favorite strategy, Chunky Monkey! I love this strategy because you can use it while teaching so many concepts and...I love the name!🙈

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What does it mean to use chunky monkey? Using chunky monkey means that the student looks for "chunks" or familiar would parts when decoding a word. These "chunks" can be smaller words, word families, blends, digraphs, vowel teams, and more!

When should I teach chunky monkey? I am often asked, what order should these strategies be taught in? I typically say that it depends on students’ needs and ability. I like this strategy because it be taught in so many grade levels, with so many different levels of ability, and  with so many different phonetic concepts! I would recommend starting here if:
  • The child has secured all letter sounds 
  • The child is beginning to learn about and understand any of the following phonetic concepts: blends, digraphs, vowel teams, word families, diphthongs, r-controlled vowels, and more!
  • If the child relies on pictures clues and attends to beginning sound while reading. If they do not, I would recommend starting with another strategy. You can read more about some other strategies to start with by checking out my posts on eagle eye and/or lips the fish

Teaching Chunky Monkey:


If you are not familiar with these decoding strategies, they are based off of the Beanie Baby animals.  I bought mine at a local flea market and had some saved from my childhood collection! I always get these out when I introduce a new strategy. This seems to help students to make an association with the strategy. If you want to use the beanies too, check out Ebay, garbage sales, flea markets, and more! Of course, you don't need to have these to teach the strategies! 


Look for Chunks!

When you set up your purpose for reading, get students looking for "chunks" before reading the book! You can either direct students to find any "chunks" that they already know or give them a more specific task. For example, you can have students find all of the digraphs or vowel teams in a book. This works really well with word family books too! I typically use printable books and give my students highlighters and direct them to highlight all of the "chunks" in the book. 

Click here to check out these printable books!


If you are not using printable books, you can always use some highlighter tape so you don't mark in the book! This is a simple and interactive way to get students looking for "chunks!" Students can do this in their own books or you can model it during your read alouds. This works well with big books too!







Check out the highlighter tape here!

Blending Drill

One thing I incorporate into our daily review is some word blending practice.  This lasts about 5 minutes but is extremely beneficial to get students blending new words! We focus on a new word family each week and add different beginning sounds to each family and blend by reading the words together. I am a big fan of color coding so by having the word families and initial sounds in different colors, it helps students to look for "chunks." Check out these printable, easy, and editable word family blending drills here!

Color code to allow students to easily see chunks!




Pair it with other concepts you are already teaching
During your phonics instruction, you can always point out any "chunks" that you find. You can find these "chunks" when teaching: blends, digraphs, inflectional endings, prefixes, suffixes, vowel teams, diphthongs, and more! Students can use highlighters, dry erase markers, makers, highlighter tape, and more! Whatever works for your classroom to make it fun and interactive. You can practice finding "chunks" in spelling words, sight words, and even in your morning message! The possibilities are endless!




Practice with task cards
To use these task cards, you can give the child or children in your group a dry erase marker and have them circle familiar “chunks” or parts of the word that they know. I have organized the cards by short, long, and irregular vowels. Many of the words will be longer since it is easier to use this strategy on longer words with more “chunks.” Grab these printable task cards by clicking here! 












Grab a freebie!




Check out one of my previous blog posts to grab this printable so you can remind students to use their strategies! Click here to grab the decoding strategy printable and more!

Read more about the strategies here...

Click the image to check out another blog post!






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