Reading Strategies from Sue Leary's first-grade classroom
at Peach Plains Elementary School, Grand Haven, MI

1. Get ready to read! Take a picture walk before you read the book. Look at the pictures carefully and predict what the book will be about. Make a list of words you think you might see in the story.

2. Look at the pictures for clues about words you don’t know.

3. Look at the beginning letter and the ending letter in the word you don’t know. Make the sounds of those letters…do you know the word?

4. Is there a small word inside the big word that you know? Example: There’s an “at” in sat.

5. A vowel letter can have a long sound. When a vowel is long it says its own name. A short vowel sounds different than a long vowel. Example: A short “i” makes the sound you make when you don’t like your mom’s cooking. A short “o” makes the sound your mom makes when she puts you to bed, as in, “AHHHHHHH!!!”

6. If the word has one vowel in it, the vowel is USUALLY short!

7. Does the word have a CVCV (consonant, vowel, consonant, vowel) pattern? If it does, the first vowel you come to talks and the second vowel walks. When a vowel talks it says its own name and when a vowel walks it says nothing at all!

8. When a word ends with an “e” the “e” usually says nothing. The “e” is silent, but deadly.

9. When a word has two vowels standing next to each other, USUALLY the first vowel talks and the second vowel walks.
Example: rain
The first vowel “a” talks (says its own name) and the second vowel “i” walks or says nothing at all.

10. If you don’t know the word a good strategy is to skip it and read the rest of the sentence. Can you make sense of the sentence without knowing the word? Try to think of a word that would make sense in the sentence.

11. Does the word you are stuck on look like another word you know? For example, if you know the word “car” could you figure out this word: “star”? Change the beginning sound and see if you know this word!

12. Think about the word you are stuck on. If you come to a word you don’t know, read all the words you do know! What word would make sense?

13. Pull the word you don’t know apart. Say the sounds in the word in S-L-O-W M-O-T-I-O-N. Speed it up…what is the word?

14. Look for a chunk in the word. We call chunks consonant clusters. Some consonant clusters we know about are: th, sh, and ch. Teachers don’t like th because when a student makes the sound a th makes, the student can stick their tongue out at the teacher! Teachers love sh because when a student makes the sound a sh makes, the student says “Shhhhhh!”. And when a student makes the sound a ch makes, the student makes the sound a train makes!

15. Can you retell the story? A good reader can tell what happened in the beginning, the middle, and the end of the story.

16. Is the book you are reading a “just right” book for you? If you are stuck on five words on a single page, this book is not a “just right” book for you…yet!

17. Phone a friend. If all the strategies you try don’t help you, this it the last strategy you can try. Ask a friend for help!