Guided Reading Ch.3: Pre-A & Emergent Guided Reading

Last week we learned that assessments are important for creating our guided reading groups according to letter knowledge. You can find that information about Chapter Two here. This week we will review Chapter Three of the Guided Reading book study. This chapter covers Pre-A and Emergent Guided Reading.

What does Pre-A stand for?

This is the group of students who have limited letter knowledge. They typically know less than 40 upper- and lowercase letters and struggle with letter sounds. The Pre-A lesson plan that works for them includes: working with letter and names, working with sounds, working with books, and interactive writing. Jan Richardson recommends this framework for students who are beginning to learn English and for those who have special learning needs.

Trace an Alphabet Book

For students who do not know at least 40 upper- and lowercase letters, it is recommended that they trace an alphabet book EVERY day (with a tutor). This alphabet book will only have the upper and lowercase letters with the corresponding pictures. These students should also receive small-group instruction with the teacher. Keep in mind that the alphabet tracing should not be part of your guided reading lesson. .

Student Procedure

1. Trace each upper- and lowercase letter with pointing finger for the tactile experience (do not use pencil or marker)
2. Say the name of the letter each time
3. Point to the picture and name it like this… “R, r, rainbow”

I used these posters and cards for the activity.

Pre-A Lessons

A Pre-A Guided Reading Lesson should cover the following 4 activities within 15-20 minutes. You are probably wondering how to cover so much in such little time. The key is to present the activities in the amounts given. As long as the teacher does less talking and maybe keeps a timer, this lesson can be done within 15-20 minutes. The four activities must be presented within EVERY lesson without trying to split your time or activities up. This will allow students to make connections between the skills presented. Remember to keep a letter/sound checklist for each group. Use this checklist to during each session so that you know which letters to work with and to check-off new learned letters πŸ™‚

Working with Letters and Names (3-4 minutes)

Name Activities

Purpose:  Teach visual discrimination
Time: One minute (for ONE name activity)

Name Puzzles: 

I like Jan’s suggestion. First cut the student’s name into two parts. Work on this until student is able to put his/her name together without a sample or help. Then, you gradually cut the name into more parts.

Make names with magnetic letters:

Gather the letters that make up the student’s first name and place them in a bag or envelope. Students use this to make their names.


Write the student’s first name on construction paper. They will trace over the name with one color, then with another and another.

Eight Ways of Working with Letters

Purpose: Build automaticity with letter that they already know
Time: 2 minutes

1. Match the letters in the bag
2.Match letters to an alphabet chart
3.Match upper- and lowercase letters
4.Sort magnetic letters by color
5.Name letters from left to right when you place them in a line
6.Name a word that begins with a letter they know
7.Name a letter that begins a given word (use an alphabet chart)
8.Find a letter on the alphabet chart that makes a given sound

Working with Sounds

Purpose: Teach phonological awareness
Time: 2-3 minutes

1. Clapping Syllables
This is so simple because it is something that we already do every day. The teacher will show the students a picture. Then the students will clap the syllables to determine how many syllables are in the given word. I always teach my students to slow down and talk like a robot when clapping the syllables. How fun is that? They totally love the robot talk. If I see that some students are not matching their syllable clapping with their words, we s-l-o-w down even more by taking a longer pause between syllables. I created this tablet apptivity that teachers can use during guided reading instruction. The mats are letter-size so that all students in the group are able to see the target word…  Later, these syllable mats can be placed in a center where students can practice this skill independently.

2. Working with rhymes
The teacher will say two words to the students. Students will use the thumbs up, thumbs down response to let the teacher know if the words rhyme. Kids love the thumbs up, thumbs down game. It makes sense to use it with a learning activity. The important thing is that the students need to HEAR the two words. They can repeat the two words it if they want, but they have to show you a thumbs up or down. If you are using rhyming cards during guided reading, it will be so easy to place them in a center for continued practice.
3. Picture Sorts
*The teacher will choose two consonants that the students already know. 
*The teacher will select the corresponding picture cards to give to a student.
*Students will follow a specific procedure:
     -Say the name of the picture
     -Say the first sound of that word
     -Next, say the name of that first letter
     – Finally, sort the picture under the correct letter on the board or pocket 
*All the students will follow the same procedure with the same two cards

Working with Books

Purpose: Build Oral Language
Time: 5 minutes
We always take a picture walk first and talk about the pictures in the book. Students are expected to describe the pictures in complete sentences. This helps them put their thoughts together, increase vocabulary and make connections between pictures and pages. Then we read the book together. Students point to each word as they read, as I pay attention to their concepts of print. I love to use the leveled readers from A-Z. com.

Interactive Writing

Purpose: Build Letter Knowledge, Concepts of print
Time: 5 minutes

I like to use books and themes for our interactive writing lessons. We use short and repetitive sentences. And, sometimes they are planned sot that the sentences use specific sight words that I want students to become familiar with. For example; if we are learning about Back To School, we will talk about things that we see in the classroom or around the school.  Most importantly,  these sentences must include letters and sounds that you have been reviewing with them during small group… We usually write the responses on large chart paper. The book recommends that we only write one sentence during the Pre-A guided reading lesson. So, if you already wrote something like this during whole group, you will choose one sentence from there to do the following:
1. Teacher dictates a sentence
2. Students repeat the sentence
3. Teacher draws a line for each word on dry-erase boards
4. Students take turns helping to write each word while the others in the small group use the alphabet chart to practice their letters and letter formation.

As an independent activity, I like to choose a few sentences from the chart paper. Then, I type their sentences as seen in the picture below.

Here is a freebie for you πŸ™‚

How long should a student remain in the Pre-A small group?

Students graduate from the Pre-A group when they are able to write their first name, name at least 40 letters of the alphabet, can hear consonant sounds in words, follows directions, and has gained left to right directionality skills.

That’s it πŸ™‚

Well, that’s pretty much how a Pre-A lesson goes. I hope that you have learned something new today:) I have been very excited about this chapter and the corresponding resources that have been tucked away just waiting for this post… I posted THE very first ipad apptivity back in April. These new resources just compliment my original idea πŸ™‚

Hopefully, you are having a wonderful and safe summer break.

Learn from other teachers or link up:



  1. How can I find where to purchase or get the activities you show in the post?

  2. Oh. I'm so sorry. I wrote this post some time ago then went out of town. I just now added the link to the freebie at the end of the post. I am still out of town but will add the other activities to my TPT store as soon as I return home πŸ™‚ Glad you like them πŸ™‚

  3. I Can't seem to get the Back to School freebie to print. Love your site!!!!

  4. Hi Beverly. Did it work for you? You might need to download it first before you print it.

  5. Lora says

    DO you have your apptivities for sale?

  6. I'm so sorry. I had to go out of town and did not get to post them yet. I will do so as soon as I return home. They will be up in my store early next week. Make sure to follow my TPT store to receive new product notifications πŸ™‚

  7. Lora says

    Thanks! They look like great activities!

  8. Thanks for the freebie! When I attempt to save it, it asks for an owner's password? Not sure how to save it?

  9. Lidia, FYI…I put your blog button on my post about chapter 3. Smiles, Jayne
    Smart Kids

  10. I found your blog through this linky and I love all of your great ideas! This book study has so many awesome ways to help our beginning readers. All of the ideas are so simple, and they are making me super pumped to start guided reading (you know…after a looooooong summer break. Haha!)Thanks for sharing.

    Amanda @
    Teacher at the Wheel

  11. Thank you or taking the time to go over this chapter in such detail. I really found it helpful.