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Small Group Guided Reading Warm-Ups

One of the messiest transitions in my classroom used to be the time between guided reading groups. It’s just a little bit of a chaotic time, isn’t it? You have one group leaving your table. All of their reading materials are still out in front of you. A new group is moving to your table. You must get out there reading materials, swap out a clean page for notes, etc. The rest of the students in the room are switching activities, and may need a bit of a reminder to get focused and quiet.

Ideas for small group reading warm-up activities to help with the transition time when changing groups

A while back, I decided that I wanted to clean up this transition. I started implementing guided reading warm-ups, and it has made a world of difference for my guided reading time! Let me show you what guided reading warm-ups are and how I use them.

What are guided reading warm-ups?

Guided reading warm-ups are brief, low-prep activities that you can place out at your table for students to engage with as you are transitioning one group out and a new group in. When my students arrive at my table, they know to grab the warm-ups and choose an activity to do quietly for just a couple of minutes as I get myself organized.  

After the class is settled and I am ready to begin, we clean up the warm-ups and start our lesson. The routine starts over again when that group leaves and the next group arrives. The warm-ups come back out, and students work quietly at my table until we are ready to begin. No wasted instructional time for my students, and they are focused and quiet, instead of contributing to the chaos of the transition!  

What activities do the students do?

You can put almost anything out as a guided reading warm-up. Sight word cards, mini readers that you have read in past lessons, and manipulatives for students to build words with all work well. If it’s low prep and academically aligned to what that group is working on, it makes for a great warm-up! 

Cover It Up

My favorite activity to use as a guided reading warm-up is an activity called Cover It Up! Cover It Up is a set of work mats that focuses on different skills. Students use mini erasers, pom-poms, dough, or other small manipulatives to cover circles on the page that match the skill.

Guided reading warm-up cover it activity

For example, if a student pulls out a Cover It Up with the letter H at the top, then he or she will use their manipulatives to cover every picture that begins with the H sound. If the ‘-ap’ word family is at the top of the page, then the student would cover every picture that ends in ‘-ap’ on their mat.

guided reading cover it activity

In each Cover It Up set, there are six different mats. This means that each student at your guided reading table will have a different mat, so they will be working independently. The time it takes students to cover all of their pictures it’s just long enough for you to get yourself organized, get the rest of the students in the room settled, and be ready to teach. Plus the cleanup is so fast that you don’t have to worry about transitioning out of warm up time into the lesson. You simply put the mats and the manipulatives back into a tub or basket that you’re storing them in and move them off of the table!

guided reading cover it activity

You can find my Cover It Up Mats in individual sets, or save money with the Phonics Bundle in my TPT Store!

How do you transition your students from one station to another during guided reading time? Do you also implement some sort of warm-up? Do you think this idea would help your students in your classroom? Let me know in the comments!

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Hi, I’m Julie!

If you are looking for hands-on, engaging kindergarten activities, you came to the right place!

I’m here to save you time by sharing tried and true kindergarten resources, tips, and ideas and hopefully give you some ideas for your own kindergarten lesson plans!

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