Close Reading for Beginners

  Well…hello!!! I wanted to share with you what close reading looks like in my class. I always try to teach my students the WHY behind our learning. I think this helps my students deepen their understanding of what we are doing and allows them to make real-life connections. Often times I introduce an abstract reading strategy/skill by doing something concrete and tangible. Then, after the concrete modeling lesson, I make the connection to reading. So, when I began to teach my students how to “closely read” a text, I wanted to start with something concrete. It doesn’t get anymore concrete than creepy crawlers? Right? So, here’s what I did: First, I purchased these creepy crawlers and these magnifying glasses  (in previous years my co-teacher and I would catch a few bugs outside….are we crazy or what?). You don’t have to use critters for this part. A cool branch, leaf, meal worm, or even rock would work! image Then, I had my students observe one of the creepy crawlers with their naked eye. They recorded their observations on the “I See” side of the graphic organizer below. They could write words or draw a picture. We spent a few minutes observing, but we didn’t look at the critters with much detail. image image    image

Then, I presented them with a magnifying glass and told them this time we are going to take a closer look at our bugs. They were ALL KINDS OF EXCITED! I told them to carefully study the details of the bug and record their observations on the “Now I See” side of their graphic organizer. image

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Afterwards, we made the connection between taking a close look at an object and taking a close look at a text. Students noticed SOME things when they looked at the object/thing with their naked eye, but they observed MUCH more in detail when they carefully observed it with the magnifying glass. I explained to students that this applies to reading as well. When we read something for the first time, we may notice SOME things (but not all). Sometimes texts require a second or third look! After this lesson, we refer to close reading as “MAGNIFIED READING.” I think it helps them remember WHY we are closely reading something and brings them back to the first lesson. The next day, we were ready to begin our first day of close reading. A big part of closely reading a text in a small group is to allow time for students to discuss the text. These posters hang in my small group area to help my kiddos remember how to be a good listener and active participant. The “Can You Prove It?” poster gives my students sentence starters (example: I know this because on page ______ it says…”)

image On the first day, we do a cold read of the text. A cold read means we’ve never read the text before nor have I given my students any background knowledge about the text. image
After the cold read, we address any unfamiliar vocabulary terms. I like to play a simple match up game with my kiddos to help them learn the vocabulary words.


Then, we move onto our “warm read” on Day 2 and our “hot read” on Day 3. I explain what we do at each of these phases in my Close Reading pack here. After students have visited and re-visited the text and we’ve had a discussion about the text, I provide my students with a  question and have them use evidence from the text to support their thinking. We often refer back to the “Can You Prove It?” poster to help us with our writing. My students are still working on restating the question in their answer. They’re also still working on how to properly use quotation marks in their responses. (FYI: I’ve been SO proud of the progress my students have made in such a short amount of time. It’s HARD for first graders to look back at the text over and over again to find evidence to support their thinking because they often want to share their prior knowledge and how the text relates to them. I still provide time for students to share their experiences (IT’S FIRST GRADE, after all!!!) However, after they have shared, I try to redirect them back to the TEXT to find support. It takes time!)

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I keep all of my close reading printables organized in this handy dandy binder. image I make multiple copies of this Close Reading Observation sheet and jot down any notes before, during, and after our small group time.


Inside the binder, I also keep a little breakdown of what cold reads, warm reads, and hot reads are and a copy of some great text-dependent questions for fiction and non-fiction texts.

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I also hold some independent fiction and non-fiction activities that help students can use to practice closely reading a text to find information on their own.





For the fiction and non-fiction passages, I organize everything in this file folder. image

In each pocket, I include 6 copies of each passage, vocabulary cards, and the response sheets. I label each pocket with the title of the passage and write whether it’s a fiction or non-fiction text (RL for Reading Literature or RI for Reading Informational). This helps my crazy mind stay somewhat sane! image image

Here’s a “closer look” at the passages I use as close reads: image imageimageimageimageimage

Each passage has corresponding vocabulary cards and multiple response sheets. The response sheets ask a question that requires students to provide evidence from the text. image image image image

If you’re interested in any of these materials, you can find ALL that you see above in my Close Reading for Beginners pack!


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{ 28 comments… add one }
  • mrsg March 4, 2014, 2:10 am
  • Jen Kroske March 4, 2014, 2:12 am

    I'm glad you posted about this! I love all of your things (and own almost all of them) and I almost bought this during the sale but had NO idea what Close Reading was. So, next paycheck it'll be in in my cart! Thanks so much!

  • Rosy Patel March 4, 2014, 2:22 am

    Wow! This is a fantastic packet. I bought 4 of your other products over the weekend – wish I would have gotten this one too. Thanks for sharing.

  • Kristen Smith March 4, 2014, 2:31 am

    This is by far one of my favorite purchases to date from Teachers Pay Teachers. I love it and my students could not be more excited about digging deeper! LOVE THIS!!!! You seriously are amazing.


  • Amber O. March 4, 2014, 2:43 am

    Love the explicitness of this post and how you provide specific directions/advice on how to implement this skill into any elementary classroom. Great visuals! This packet is definitely going into my wish list!

  • Tiffany March 4, 2014, 4:01 am

    What a great post! I just bought this amazing unit during the TPT sale. I can't wait to use it. Thanks for including how you use it and how you organize everything!

  • Jessica March 4, 2014, 4:57 am

    WOW!!!! I've seen a lot of close reading packets for younger grades. but nothing matched up to how I've been taught to teach it. I LOOOOVE how you made this fun for the kids! I will be sharing your blog post with our academic coach! I know she'll love it! GREAT WORK!

  • Nicole Alderson March 4, 2014, 3:13 pm

    Looks amazing Lyndsey!! I have some students who could definitely benefit from this level work!

  • Jennifer White March 4, 2014, 5:15 pm

    Great post, as always!
    First Grade Blue Skies

  • Sarah Morgan March 4, 2014, 7:28 pm

    What an awesome way to really show the kids the meaningfulness of reading! I am a senior bilingual education major in college and am working with my kids about the meaningfulness of reading and using reading to learn information. This is a great idea! Thanks!

  • bstokes March 4, 2014, 11:52 pm

    This. Is. Amazing.

    Do you sell this for older grades??

  • Haley Johnson March 5, 2014, 1:15 am

    What a GREAT resource! I can't wait to get started on it! Quick question….where in the world do you get such wonderful "real" pictures? I am always looking to include real pictures with the texts I create but do not know where to find them! Any help would be appreciated! Thank you for always inspiring me!

    The School Belle

  • Ev March 7, 2014, 12:25 am

    Hi, thanks for sharing all of your wonderful ideas. I've been a fan since you started your blog. I was wondering… What writing program does your school use? My school is looking at using a program and we are not having much luck finding programs. We have played with Tony Stead's guide but can't find much else. Any suggestions?


  • Robyn T March 8, 2014, 1:02 pm

    Hi! I am excited to use this! I just got a TPT GC so this is in the bag! Thank you for sharing how you keep it organized!
    Just a question – do you use this in your guided reading time or is this an additional small group activity? Also, do you feel it is usable with all levels or do you recommend a level and up that this is good for?

    Thanks so much for your time (And work!)

  • Mrs. Tolbert March 11, 2014, 12:48 am

    I love this!It looks awesome. 🙂 I teach kindergarten. Do you think that the content would be appropriate for kindergarten or is it more of a first grade and up pack? I would hate to purchase and then not be able to use it. 🙂

  • Jodi March 11, 2014, 1:01 am

    This is such a great packet! I absolutely have LOVED using it in my classroom!

  • Naomi Griffin March 11, 2014, 4:03 am

    Do you wait until this time of the year to teach close reading or are you teaching close reading all year.

  • Melissa March 11, 2014, 4:05 am

    I'll be most likely teaching First next year after two year of Kinder. Do you have to wait until this time of the year or are you teaching it all year.

  • Keep Calm and Love First Grade March 13, 2014, 1:21 pm

    I love your blog!! I'm so glad I just found it. I can't wait to dive in and read more. Great post too! Looks like something the kiddos would just love.
    Keep Calm and Love First Grade

  • laura speller March 15, 2014, 2:32 am

    I teach Kg and I can't WAIT to use it. In our county close reading is completely expected so we are always looking for great resources. And now I have found one. This packet is simply AMAZING! My kids are going to flip out over the interesting reading and photographs for the non-fiction selections!!!!

  • Tiffany March 19, 2014, 6:07 pm

    Where did you get your cute file folder to fit all the stories?

  • susie March 23, 2014, 4:28 am

    I love this! Now I need this for fifth grade!

  • susie March 23, 2014, 4:28 am

    I love this! Now I need this for fifth grade!

  • Laura Schachter April 20, 2014, 9:47 am

    Wow! I just discovered your blog and your store. I am so impressed and thankful that you are sharing your talents this way! You are absolutely AMAZING!! Thanks!

  • Cara TaylorSteele April 29, 2014, 1:43 pm

    Hi Lyndsey! I am a third year first grade teacher in Columbia, MO and I just stumbled upon your awesome blog and incredible resources. Thank you so much for sharing your talent! =)

  • Lori Rosenberg May 4, 2014, 10:21 pm

    I just spent 20 minutes devouring your awesome post!

  • Jenny Ward January 16, 2015, 1:13 pm

    I purchased the same set of bugs to use in a very similar way! Great minds think alike. When I first purchased them I was predominately teaching science and boy did the kids get excited when the bugs came out!

    Best wishes, Jenny

    Miss Jenny's Classroom
    Miss Jenny's Classroom: Book Reviews