How to Plan the Perfect Reading Group

Planning for your guided reading groups can be overwhelming.  I want to help you streamline your planning and target your instruction.  Click here to read more about the 6 essential components to any reading group from kindergarten all the way to fifth grade!

My day is made up of reading groups with students who are in kindergarten all the way up to 5th grade.  Although their needs are very different (kindergarteners we may be working on letter sounds, while 5th graders are tackling multisyllabic words), one thing is the same - our daily routine.  My students love the routine and learn it quickly!  Here is a glimpse into the 6 essential components that make up every reading group:

Getting Started

In order to effectively group students, we use a common word reading assessment.  Based on this information, we determine the skill for each group.

Step 1: Warm Up

Our warm-up is usually 1-2 minutes long and always involves phonological awareness.  Phonological awareness is such a crucial component of learning to read.  We use a variety of 1-minute activities from David Kilpatrick’s book, Equipped for Reading Success.

Step 2: Sound Review

This part of our routine is like the warm-up 2.0.  We do a quick review of the skill that we are focusing on, mixed in with our previous skill.  Sometimes we do our review digitally and sometimes we do it with paper and pointers.

Planning for your guided reading groups can be overwhelming.  I want to help you streamline your planning and target your instruction.  Click here to read more about the 6 essential components to any reading group from kindergarten all the way to fifth grade!


Step 3: Chaining

Chaining is a sequence of words that can be built by changing one sound at a time.

For example: at → cat → cot → hot → hat → pat → pan → an

One of the great things about chaining is that you can use a variety of materials like magnetic letters, whiteboards and more!

Planning for your guided reading groups can be overwhelming.  I want to help you streamline your planning and target your instruction.  Click here to read more about the 6 essential components to any reading group from kindergarten all the way to fifth grade!

Our chaining will follow the specific skill that we are working on (ex. short a, digraphs, silent e words).  There are three ways to change the word: change a sound, add a sound, and delete a sound.

Step 4: Word Reading

These words are made up of the type of vowel pattern that we working on, but can also include a spiral review of past skills!  Much like step 2, sometimes we do our word reading digitally and sometimes we do it with flashcards.

Planning for your guided reading groups can be overwhelming.  I want to help you streamline your planning and target your instruction.  Click here to read more about the 6 essential components to any reading group from kindergarten all the way to fifth grade!


Step 5: Dictation

Once we have finished word reading, we move onto dictation (encoding practice)! We use the skills that we have practiced in steps 1-4 and apply them to writing.  I say the words in no particular order and the students write them!  Sometimes we sort based on the vowel and other times we use sound boxes.

Planning for your guided reading groups can be overwhelming.  I want to help you streamline your planning and target your instruction.  Click here to read more about the 6 essential components to any reading group from kindergarten all the way to fifth grade!


Students are typically asked to write 4-6 words and a sentence.

Step 6: Reading in Context

This is where we put all of the skills in step 1-4 to the test!  It is important to find a decodable text that incorporates the skills that you have been working on.  I mainly use readers from Core Knowledge Language Arts (CKLA) and SPIRE Readers.  The CKLA materials are free!

Planning for your guided reading groups can be overwhelming.  I want to help you streamline your planning and target your instruction.  Click here to read more about the 6 essential components to any reading group from kindergarten all the way to fifth grade!


Are you ready to use these 6 steps in your reading groups?
Click here for a bonus lesson planning template incorporating these 6 steps.
Click here for some premade phonics lessons (K-3) using these 6 steps.
Click here for premade syllable type lessons (3-5) using these 6 steps.

Pin for Later:

Planning for your guided reading groups can be overwhelming.  I want to help you streamline your planning and target your instruction.  Click here to read more about the 6 essential components to any reading group from kindergarten all the way to fifth grade!