Emergent Readers Lesson Plans

Today we are discussing Chapter 3 of our summer book study book, The Next Step Forward In Guided Reading.  Today’s chapter is about working with emergent readers who are level A-C.  As this is where most of my students spend the majority of the school year, I was excited to dive into this chapter.

Who Are Emergent Readers?

Richardson describes emergent readers as reading on level A-level C.  I think it’s important point out that she goes on to describe emergent readers by their skills as well.  Our students are more than a reading level and we must always consider all of the information when providing guided reading instruction.

Level A students can write their first name with no model, know at least 40 uppercase and lowercase letters and 8 sounds, have left to right tracking and understand English to follow simple directions.  This last characteristic is huge for me because my students are 95% ELL so this is always a key factor in our reading instruction.

By level C, students should know all their letters and sounds,  have one to one correspondence with words, left to right tracking, form letters, use various strategies to figure out words, have CVC words/sounds in order, monitor for meaning, read and write about 30 sight words, discuss a story and write a simple sentence.

The Emergent Readers Lesson

Richardson suggests a 2 day cycle for your emergent readers with lessons lasting 20 minutes.  Here is where I vary from her guidance a bit.  I will do the same book for 3 days because most of my students are ELL.  I feel a 3 day cycle gives them much more confidence in their ability which is a huge component to becoming a great reader and writer.  The 3 day cycle can also help them build fluency.  After the 3 days I spend the remaining 2 days of the week doing one on one lessons with the book and really targeting students and the areas they need additional support.  I also only spend 15 minutes in guided reading groups because I’ve found that 15 minutes is pushing them on how long the students can focus.  15 minutes also means I can see every group every day (for the most part!).

The components of an emergent readers lesson plan are:

sight words

Introducing a book

Reading a book

discussing and teaching

word study

guided writing

Sight Words And Emergent Readers

One of the main pieces of the emergent readers lesson is sight words.  Richardson shares her thoughts about teaching sight words in guided reading and I took a few ideas from that.  BUT, because of our whole group sight word instruction, my approach to sight words in small groups is different.

For the sight word review we review all 4 words that we are learning that week.  Because the students are getting so much exposure to those words in whole group, there is not need (in my class) to teach a new sight word during the guided reading lesson.  What I am going to implement are having the students write the sight words during guided reading!  Right now we just practice the words quickly but I like the writing of the words to make it more impactful!   I also plan to use the Jan’s strategy of teaching a new sight word to work on any of our weekly sight words that the kids are struggling with (pg. 78).

Here are the steps to teaching a new sight word in guided reading:

Introduce the word-write the word so students see you write from left to right

Tell students the word and slide an index card under each letter as you read the word

Then turn the board toward you, erase a letter and ask students to tell you the missing letter.  (repeat 2-3 times with other letters)

To see how we teach sight words in whole group, check out our Sight Word 60 routine!

emergent readers lesson plans

Introduce A New Book

Provide an introductory statement.  We have used this strategies for years and always include key vocabulary from the book.

Make predictions.  This is HUGE, especially for our ELL students.  We can build their schema and give them scaffolding to be a successful reader.  One thing I do and Jan mentions is a guided picture walk to address unfamiliar concepts or words/pictures that I know will be confusing or not accessible to my students.  Again, this provides scaffolding for success. We also point out sight words as we look at the pages.

One thing I like that Richardson does is to point out new language structures and practices those with the students.  I’ve always had the impression that the students should just read without this kind of practice so I love knowing that I can provide them this support if needed.

One of my major AHA moments is on page 75 when Richardson says “the goal is not accurate reading but active processing. You want children to encounter challenges and attempt to problem solve!”   And everyone said AMEN!  See, again, our trainings at the district level have pushed the idea of accuracy and not so much processing and problem solving.  If they aren’t encountering challenges, then how can students be expected to practice and implement the strategies they’ve learned?

Discuss and teach.  Recall what they read, discuss story elements, speak in complete sentences, etc.

Demonstrate a strategy such as one-to-one matching, using letters and sounds, etc.  Make sure to demonstrate the strategy for students!!  This is an area where I have to get better!  I need to be more explicit in my teaching of the strategies and include more strategies!

Word Study 

This is the final part of day 1.  Students work on phonemic awareness and phonics.  This is one area of guided reading where I feel very confident in my ability.  But again, I vary from Richardson.  For the word study, I target the skills my students need to work on AND I incorporate our phonics skill from our whole group instruction as well.  This provides some targeted, intense, differentiated instruction in our phonics skills.  Our district is really pushing phonics for kindergarten and so I like pulling our whole group skill into guided reading as well.

For us, this works out seamlessly because of our TKS BOOTCAMP curriculum.  When I created the curriculum, I created whole group lesson and small group lessons.  We can use the small group components during the word study portion of guided reading!

emergent readers

Another idea for the word study time in guided reading and something that I have found to be very helpful are cookie sheets and magnetic letters!   Put 2 sets of magnetic letters on each cookie sheet.  Make enough for each child the group.  This means you have a word work activity always prepped.  Just hand out the cookie sheet and start making words or mixing and fixing sight words!


For more on our TKS BOOTCAMP curriculum, check out this post!

Emergent Readers Day 2

Day 2 of the lesson is sight word review, reading and discussing the book but it also includes guided writing.  As I have mentioned before, writing was the one piece of guided reading that our district says is optional but Richardson says it’s very important so this is an area I want to focus on!  I like the idea of the writing journals made from paper (HELLO SIMPLE!) and drawing the lines to help students write.   This is definitely something I will implement!

Final Takeaways!

A couple of other ideas stuck out to me as activities for guided reading or centers or whole group games!

The first was the mix and fix strategy for sight words.  Jan uses magnetic letters and does this in small group. But what if we giant sized this for a whole group sight word game?!  I’m picturing some giant letters (printed out and laminated…) and students working as a team to build the sight words!

The other thing was sound boxes or Elkonin boxes which I’ve heard about for years and I’ve seen lots of variations of them.  In fact, I made something similar for CVC words using Dollar Tree trays.  But I never really utilized them.  Until now! (click the image for more details!)


For more guided reading discussions, check out Kindergarten Chaos to read Abby’s post on Chapter 3!




guided reading lesson plans level a-c



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