Using Comprehension Strategies: Start Guided Reading Off Right!

Hello friends! A little over a year ago, I blogged about how I used decoding strategies to begin guided reading. I've loved using the task cards and hearing how they have worked for other teachers! So I decided to create similar task cards for comprehension. It's been a long process, but I'm so excited that they are finally finished! 

It is so important to explicitly teacher our readers to use strategies. This helps readers to be purposeful and effectively make sense of what they are reading. 

My favorite way to start off guided reading, is by choosing a strategy to focus on. The strategy that you choose may depend on the text you are reading. Or you might focus on a skill you know your guided reading group needs. You can also follow your curriculum and teach the strategy according to it. For example, if you notice your students are struggling with making predictions, you may want to focus on curious cat. Or if you are reading a book during guided reading that includes some unfamiliar vocabulary words and requires students to use context clues, you may want to use repair bear. Either way, you can't go wrong!

We typically spend about 5-8 minutes working on the strategies before we begin reading. The time you spend working on them may depend on your group's grade level and how long they can focus.

Please note, this blog post may contain affiliate links. That means I can receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you purchase from one of the items linked. Affiliate links allow me to keep blogging and providing resources! You can read more about this at the end of my post. 

Before you start using your strategies, you need to get the cards organized! I store my cards in the Recollections Color Photo & Craft Keeper!

Click the photo to grab the storage container!
If you don't want to purchase the craft keeper, you can always hole punch them and store them on rings!

Another way to organize the cards if you don't want to use the craft keeper!

Before my students start reading, I show them the strategy we are focusing on as an "I can" statement" I explain to them what they will do and how to use the strategy.  I attached this to the bottom of the lid of my craft box.

Once I have chosen my strategy, I pass out the task cards to students!

A Little About Each Strategy... 

You may wondering how each strategy works. Check out each strategy below or check out the video to see them in action! 

I apologize in advance for the terrible quality of the video...😱

Inferring Iguana: Make Inferences 

Students use the Inferring Iguana strategy to make inferences while they read. I've included two levels: "Inferences With Pictures" and "Inferences With Riddles."

To use the picture cards, read or have students read the question on each card. Students will use the picture clues on each card to practice making an inference. These cards are recommended if students are just starting out with inferences.  

To use the riddle cards, read or have students read the riddles. Students will solve each riddle.

Optional: print and laminate the picture choices. You can glue them on the back of the cards or students can match them.

Curious Cat: Make Predictions 

Students use Curious Cat to make predications. I've included two levels titled: "Predict a Book By Its Cover" and "What Will Happen Next?"

To use the first level, Predict a Book By Its Cover, read or have students read the book title. Students will look at the pictures. Students will practice making a predication based on the title and picture.
Encourage students to give more detail than just the title. 

The next level, What Will Happen Next?, includes a short passage. Students will read or listen to the beginning of the passage and will predict what will happen next. 

Digger the Dog: Find the Main Idea

With Digger the Dog, students will "dig" through the details to find the main idea. Two levels are included: "Details With Pictures" and "Details in Sentences."

To use details with pictures, Read or have students read the main idea at the top of each card.

Students will use a dry erase marker to circle the details that support the main idea. 

Once students have mastered details with pictures, you may want to move to details in sentences. To use these cards, Read the sentences or have students read sentences on each card. Students will use a dry erase marker to circle the main idea.

Spinner the Spider: Make Connections 

Students will use Spinner the Spider to make connections while reading. Included are two levels: "Make a Connection" (with pictures) and "What Kind of Connection?"

To use the first level, make a connection, students will look at the picture and make a connection. As students begin using this strategy, you may need to encourage them to give more detail. I tried to include pictures that students can easily make a connection to. 

To use the next level "What kind of connection?" students will read or listen to a short story. Then, they will choose which kind of connection they can make, text-to-self, text-to-text, or text-to-world. Encourage students to tell more, if needed

Repair Bear: Monitor and Fix-Up

With the next strategy, Repair Bear, students will use it to monitor and fix-up their understanding as they read. The goal of this strategy is to get students thinking as they read. So often students are so busy decoding or reading words that they don't stop and think about what they actually are reading. There are two levels to using this strategy: "Choose the Correct Word" and "Context Clues."

For choose the correct word, you will read or or have students read the sentences and two word choices. Students will use a dry erase marker to circle the word that makes sense.

To use context clues, you can read or have students read the cards. Students will use the context clues to determine the given word’s meaning.

Picturing Penguin: Visualize

Next up is Picturing Penguin! This strategy gets students visualizing as they read. When using the visualization strategy, students "make a movie in their mind" and picture what they are reading. By using this strategy, students can better remember what they have read. Two levels are included, "Draw what you read" and "Choose the picture to match the sentence"

For "Draw what you read",  read or have students read the story on each card. Students can use the paper provided, scrap paper, or a dry erase board to draw what they visualized. 

Paper Included 

Next, for "Choose the picture" read or have students read the sentence(s) on each card. Students will use a dry erase marker to circle the picture that matches the sentence. They will need to pay attention to the details in each sentence to choose the correct one!

Questioning Owl: Ask and Answer Questions

Get students asking questions and looking for answers as they read with Questioning Owl!
First, for "Ask Questions", read or have students read the book title, beginning of story, to the middle of the story, or entire story. All four are included! Students will ask a question. Encourage students’ questions to be something they want to know more about or something that can help them learn more about the story.

With the next set of cards, "Find the Answer"  read or have students read the question in the thought bubble. Then, read or have students read the title and short story. Students will answer the question. They can underline the answer in the story using a dry erase marker!

I love these double sided markers for highlighting! Grab them here!

Jabber the Reteller: Retell the Story

Finally, we have Jabber the Reteller! Jabber the Reteller gets kids retelling and identifying the important story elements needed in a good retell!

First, with the cards, "Identify Story Elements," read or have students read the story. Read the question at the bottom of the card. Students can use a dry erase marker to find the answer. Each question asks students to find a story element (character, setting, problem, solution, beginning, middle, end.)

Once students can find important story elements, you can move to retelling! Read or have students read the story. Students will retell the story. 

Several options for retelling cards are included after the story cards. Students can tap each dot as they retell. You can put some Play-Doh on each dot. Students can squish each Play-Doh dot as they retell. Kids love this!!

Play-Doh makes this one more fun!

When you finish reading, you can have students fill out an exit ticket so they can reflect on the comprehension strategies they used. Just color in any startegies used. Quick and easy!

I hope this was helpful! If you'd like to get these cards you can purchase them at my shop by clicking here! What strategies do you use in your classroom? Leave me a comment below!

Happy Teaching!


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Like this post? Check out my blog post on decoding strategies!

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Love these markers for underlining information!

Organize your cards!
Fun and bright Play-Doh for the retelling cards!


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