How Does It Work? Read Every Day! Program

Since my early years of teaching, one of the most important programs I implement each year is the Read Every Day!-formerly the Home Reading- Program. This program is instrumental in propelling my students into motivated and accomplished readers. It also provides me with an opportunity to differentiate for students.

So what is Read Every Day! and why does it work? Well, since 1998 I have been collecting books. (Yikes! When did I get so old?!) Decodable books and Guided Reading books. I found that when parents were eagerly trying to support their beginning readers, they were struggling to find material that their early readers could actually read independently. Children were becoming frustrated because they couldn’t read the Level 1 readers that were dubbed “perfect for beginning readers.” That is when my quest for decodable text came to be. (A line of text in a decodable reader might read: “Sam sat on a mat” and uses mainly words that can be sounded out or decoded.) I knew that if I could collect a bunch of books that students could read, and send them home nightly for practice, I would see an uptick in the confidence and skills of my beginning readers.

Now, more than 20 years later, I have amassed a huge collection of books that students take home nightly. (Thank you, parents, for all your Scholastic Book Orders throughout the years! I put the Bonus Points to good use!)

Once a student begins to blend sounds, I start sending home a word list. These lists have ten CVC words on them, organized by the middle vowel sound.

Students take the list, read it aloud to someone at home, return it the next day, and read it aloud to me. They choose a sticker, and then I select a new list to send home.

Here is an example of a student’s Read Everyday log.

Once I see their blending skills have solidified, I begin sending home books. First, the books have mainly CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words with a few high-frequency words sprinkled in. The next level books still have short vowel words but include digraphs and more challenging high-frequency words as well. Next are books with the long vowel magic e spelling pattern, found in words like cake, pile, stove, etc. Once students can read words with long vowels, I try to transition them to Guided Reading books, usually beginning at a level D. “Guided reading levels are simply a system developed originally by Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell to help organize reading skills and strategies so that readers are not overwhelmed. It ranges from levels A-Z with A being the simplest and Z being the most complex of the guided reading levels.” (

Read Every Day! really motivates the students. They love the accomplishment of finishing a book each night or of reading a chapter book. Students look forward to choosing their daily sticker to decorate their Read Every Day! folder. By the end of the year, we have really colorful folders that demonstrate the program’s success.

The Case of the Missing Letter D!

When I arrived at school Friday morning, the letter D was missing from our alphabet wall cards! We had a crime scene on our hands! I processed the clues that the suspects left behind and got busy setting up a display of evidence so that my kindergarten detectives could solve the case!

I met the students outside when the bell rang. They were very curious about the yellow caution tape. I explained the situation…the letter D is missing, and we need to find out who took it! I directed the students to the carpet, where we took a closer look at the evidence that our suspects had left behind. Click on each of the underlined words below to watch videos of the morning unfolding.




Once all the activities were introduced, students joined their group to complete each of the five activities so that they could earn their clue to discover who did not steal the letter D. The activities included:

1. Write the room: students searched the room to find cards with the letters of the alphabet. Each card was missing a letter, and the students needed to figure out which letter was missing.

2. Students identified the beginning sound in CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words.

3. Students colored pictures that started with a specific letter to reveal a particular shape.

4. Students used pattern blocks to build the lowercase letter d.

5. Using a white crayon, students wrote hidden letter sounds. They then painted over using watercolors to reveal their writing.

After each activity, students opened their silver briefcases and solved a special clue that told them who the suspect was NOT. Here are some examples:

After completing each of the five rotations, we came together and reviewed our notes.

Just like we suspected, Ms. Clifford was the person who stole the letter D. Watch and learn why she did it:

We loved the doughnuts! There were many happy detectives!

Pumpkin Day!

We had the perfect fall day for Pumpkin Day! Before school, I set up a little pumpkin patch in the backyard on campus.

When the bell rang, the kindergarten students came into our classroom for a quick lesson on the lifecycle of a pumpkin. All the written activities for the day are included in this fun pumpkin-shaped book.

Then it was out to the patch we went! Each student selected a pumpkin of their choice.

Once we were back inside, we used our five senses to describe our pumpkins.

Next, we broke into groups where the students participated in five pumpkin-themed activities. Here is how I organized our centers:

Students measured the height of their pumpkins using unifix cubes.

They predicted the circumference of their pumpkin, used yarn to measure, and compared their results.

Students listened to several stories about pumpkins using QR codes.  They completed a mystery picture using a hundred chart.

Finally, students practiced rhyming by matching pumpkin pairs.

But, we were not done celebrating all things pumpkin! We completed a survey that answered, “How do you like pumpkin best?” Students in kindergarten like pumpkin bread the best.

We also enjoyed a science experiment where we investigated whether or not a pumpkin would float. Most students thought pumpkins would sink! Even after I placed a pumpkin in water and they took turns watching it bob up and down, many students still did not believe that their pumpkin would float. I gave each student an opportunity to try! They were simply amazed!

We wrapped up Pumpkin Day with a yummy pumpkin muffin treat!