First Grade Independent Reading Lessons

Allow children reading choices during independent reading time.

Children in first grade need time set aside each day to practice the reading skills they have learned. Reading independently gives students an opportunity to solve challenging words and comprehend the text by themselves. While lessons to introduce the material should be about 10 to 15 minutes in length, students should have around 20 minutes to practice independent reading. During independent reading time, students should read books where they can read approximately 95 percent of the words themselves.

Readers Pick Just Right Books

Start this lesson by inviting three children to come up to the front of the classroom. Give the first child a shirt designed for a baby and ask the student to put on the shirt. She will not be able to, because she has outgrown baby clothes. Give the second child a shirt in a men’s XL. This shirt won’t fit, because he has not grown into this size yet. Give the third child a shirt that properly fits a first grader. Tell the students that books are like shirts. We all grow into our books at a different pace. Some books have become too easy for us, and some are too hard. Teach students that as readers, when we select books we should pick books that are just right. Give students a chance to choose three to five books to read during independent reading time.

Readers Use Strategies to Read Tricky Words

Teach little readers figure out challenging words. Teach strategies such as sounding out words, using the illustrations for help, skipping the word and coming back. Read a book and pretend to come to a word that you do not know. Use the strategies to model them. Post the strategies and any other tips for readers on the eraser board while the kids are reading independently.

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Readers Make Text-to-Self Connections

Choose a book that the children in your class will relate to. If you teach in the city, selecting a book about farms may not have the highest connection for your class. Model for the class, when reading a book, how a reader stops and notices parts of the book that are similar to her own life. Make a graphic organizer that provides a space for students to draw and record their connection to the story as they read. During independent reading time have the students practice one of their books and work on the graphic organizer.

Readers Make Text-to-Text Connections

To teach text-to-text, choose two books that are similar. Read one book earlier in the day and one book during your reading lesson. Place the two books next to each other and ask the students what they noticed to be the same in the two books. Draw or write down some key similarities between the two books. Provide the students with a graphic organizer that has a Venn Diagram (or two overlapping circles). After the students are done reading their books, they can write down how the two books are similar and different.