8 Ways to "Shake Up" Independent Reading Time!

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One of the most important times of my school day is our independent reading time.  It's sacred--and we have even been given the directive from our district office to support that.  All elementary students MUST have 30 minutes of independent reading per day.  That means if they are pulled for interventions or small groups, they cannot be pulled from independent reading. We all know that students learn to read by reading.  End of story.

That being said, once in a while, it's fun to shake things up a bit!  Whether you've had a long string of indoor recess days or just need to bring in a little fun, maybe some of these activities will be just what you need!

Lights out, flashlights on!

One thing that students of ALL ages love is reading with flashlights!  You can ask for donations or watch for sales...but turning out the lights and snuggling down with a flashlight is a ton of fun.  Not enough for everyone?  Combine it with buddy reading!  You could even project a book on the big screen and pass around ONE flashlight to highlight the reading.  Get creative!

Buddy reading

Buddy reading is another great way to change up your routine.  Whether you are reading with a buddy IN your classroom, in a neighboring classroom, or with younger students in the building--reading together is a great way to build community, practice fluency, and more.  When we travel down to first grade to read with our buddies, we first read a book to them, and then they read from the book bins to us!  When we buddy read within the classroom, I often put out crates of books related to what we are doing--if we are reading historical fiction, I get 30-40 historical fiction picture books from the library and let the buddies go after it.  It's tons of fun with informational text too!

Upside down reading

One thing my students love to do is turn reading "upside down".  They literally lay on the floor under their desks, put their feet up on their chair seats, and read.  Silly?  Maybe.  Fun?  Absolutely.

Mystery books

Sometimes when I want to shake things up and get students looking at books they might not typically pick--especially some of my favorite classics--I put books in brown lunch bags with numbers.  I set aside some time to practice our book previewing skills and then we rotate the books around previewing.  Students jot down the titles of books that might be interesting and then I ask them to try the first chapter of one of them to see if their "mystery book" was a good match!

Stuffed buddies

This one is pretty self-explanatory!  Everyone (even big kids!) love to snuggle with a "stuffy" while they read.  If you make this a fun part of your reading once in a while, students look forward to it SO much.  I always keep a bunch of spare stuffed friends in my room so no one needs to stress if they forget to bring their own buddy!

Magazine Day!

Hopefully, your school library subscribes to some high-interest magazines for students. Our media specialist keeps back issues for a few years for students to check out.  Once in a while, go check out a bunch and put them in tubs for students to choose from.  It reminds them about this feature in the library, gives them much-needed practice with informational texts, and keeps things fresh.  Want to take it a step farther?  Make a "graffiti wall" out of big paper and let students record cool facts they learn while reading!

Move it, move it

Sometimes a change of place is all you need!  Take a break and read on your playground.  Find a place IN the building...the hallway, the library, the cafeteria--any place "novel" makes it fun!  We even had reading time in the back stairwell once and the students thought it was so much fun!

Popcorn and books

Who doesn't love a good treat?  We have popcorn at the movies--so why not when seeing books like movies in our minds?  Do a mini-lesson on visualizing and practice with popcorn!  You might want to have a second minilesson on keeping books clean!

Novel in a day

So this one is a little different than the others because it takes a teeny bit of planning on your part.  Sometimes it's fun to try something to build community within your classroom, and to do so related to reading is just an added bonus.  Essentially, you take one book (I, personally, like to use a book with some humor!) and divide it into sections.  I actually buy a copy and physically cut it into sections--which the students find fascinating!

I start by reading chapter 1 to the class and we track characters, the setting, and key events so students have a foundation for what the story may be about.
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We then assign each chunk to a different partnership where they work to read it, understand it, record ideas about it, think about what might have happened before and after it, and then we come together as a class to trace the story from beginning to end.  I have written a full blog post on this if you want to know more...you can find it HERE.  You can also see the resource with printables in my TpT store by clicking right HERE.

Looking for some resources to help you with your independent reading time?  Check a few of these out! These are great to get your year of independent reading started, help you manage it, and make sure you are meeting all the rigorous standards you need to address! 
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