Teaching small group hasn’t always been my most favorite thing to do. If you’ve read my previous posts, you’ll know why. Once I learned what to do and HOW to do it, it’s become much more manageable. As well as it not being my favorite, prepping reading small group used to take me so long! I’ve learned how to easily organize and store my materials to help with planning during the school year.
Part of the management comes with prepping and getting ready for small group instruction each day. There are a lot of “moving pieces” when it comes to small group. You need letter cards, picture cards for each of the sounds, sight words, writing mats and more.
In this 5-part blog series, I’ll give you an insider’s look at what my reading block looks like. My small group’s look changes every year with each group, but the basics remain the same. Here’s what you can look forward to in this series:
Part 2: Prepping Reading Small Group Activities and Materials (that’s this post)
Part 3: Assessing with Reading Small Groups
Part 4: Tips for Reading Small Groups
Part 5: Reading Block Rotations
Materials for Small Group
The summer or the weekends is my favorite time to prepare small group materials. Here’s some of my favorites and a few tips to easily prep your small group activities.
First – you need a really good laminator and cardstock. I love this one that I got from Mead. It fits up to 12″ laminating sheets, but any size smaller than that works just fine as well. Mead has some laminating sheets that can also be cut for those small pieces that you need to laminate alone. I usually print my small group activities on cardstock. It lasts longer and I like that it’s much sturdier when we use it. I get my cardstock from Amazon. I buy the 3-pack.
A cutting tool is also essential to make sure you get all those lines straight. I got one from Office Depot, but this is a similar one from Amazon. It has a laser line that shows where you exact cut will be. It saves SO much time, energy and cramps in your hand. I created an easy shopping Amazon list that you can find here for all your small group needs. It is affiliate links that means if you make a purchase I will receive a few cents.
Activities for Small Group
There are so many pieces involved when you think about a year’s WORTH of small group materials. I’m only going to give a few ideas that you could easily incorporate into your small group.
The PLANS. The first thing you need is your plan for small group. The plans that I use come from The Phonics Diner. You could always plan out your year on your own. We created very specific detailed plans so we wouldn’t miss a beat. It’s easy to forget to teach a group of students something once it becomes repetitive. Having a set of plans already in place creates that small reminder in the back of your mind that you need. I print mine on colored paper and put in two binders. Each group has a different color. I talk a little more about the groups in the first post.
Small Group Reference Lists
Easy to pull materials are also essential. Since there are so many options to have, I like to be able to pull a list of words or a list of cards to use quickly when I need multiple words. I use these quick reference sheets when we work on any phonemic awareness skill. You can stick them front/back in a page protector or laminate them for durability. After, I put them in my notebook and I’m ready to roll.
Quick Questioning Cards
When I need ideas for questioning to use for quick routines, something as simple as words on the cards help. The time we spend with our students in small group is valuable and every second counts. I find the skill I need, flip to it and ask the questions. How easy would it be to ask four specific questions now? Just add them to a ring and you can flip through each. Simple enough to write down on an index card, punch a hole and go!
A lot of the materials that I use for warm-up games and quick fluency games are small enough to fit inside of a pencil pouch. After printing and laminating the activities, I simply stick them in a pouch, put it in a drawer behind my small group table and I’m ready to roll.
However, some activities are just a little bit too long for the pencil pouch. My easy solution is to simply stick them in a gallon sized ziplock bag. I fold the bag over and stick it in the drawer behind my small group table where I house all the other games.
Reading Strategy Posters
Another favorite of mine is these strategy posters. I put these up behind my table for easy reference. They are behind me, but when I reference one of them my students can easily see what I’m referring to. I teach these to help with comprehension of the text and comprehension of the pictures in the story. Reading the pictures is STILL reading.
Prepping Reading Small Group in the Summer
In the summer, I print off six of each of our books. I go ahead and have them prepped for the year. I always try to keep my groups between 3-4 kids, but there are times when I may have 5 in the group. The extra book is for me. I do allow my students to take these books home. The only books that I have to create during the year are the books for any groups that overlap. So if I have two breakfast club groups, I will have to make an extra set for that one group.
It SAVES so much time. Yes, I spend a day printing and folding books, but it is totally worth it in the coming months to shave time off my prep time for small group. I allow my kids to take the books home and read them, but I do ask that they bring the books back to school because we will need them. The books that I currently use are from The Phonics Diner. I store the books in a crate and just pull them when I need them.
Whether you’re looking to find ideas for reading intervention for kindergarten or simply for teaching small group reading, you need a plan for prepping all of your activities and materials. Find a place to store them and you’ll be set for the next school year or when you need that skill again.
If you have any questions with prepping reading small group, let me know! Check back soon for Assessments in Small Group Reading to see how I keep up with my groups, know immediately what my entire class knows and how I inform parents of student progress throughout the year.