I Play with Book Creator

I often think of guided reading in Kindergarten as the closest thing to family story time. In our classroom, I "snuggle up" on the rug or around our coffee table with a small group of children. Some children like to sit close to my side, while others prefer to lay on their belly across from me. We each hold a little book in our hands, ready to participate in the experience of becoming a reader. It is a physical, all hands on deck, connected learning experience. I prefer to sit on the floor with the children as opposed to around a larger table. I do this because I want children to feel like genuine readers. I want them to have the tactile and physical experience of reading. As adults, our pleasure reading is rarely done sitting on a hard chair at the kitchen table, it is on lounge chairs and comfy couches. I want young children to associate reading with comfort and safety from the very beginning.

I recently began considering the role of play in guided literacy experiences, and connected with a wonderful fellow educator Nyree @iluvteaching72 . Together, we began to consider the ways that we can use play to create meaningful and safe experiences for young readers. While working on opposite sides of the country, she and I each began exploring the possibility of integrating play into small group literacy experiences. This week, as we each finished up our small group stories, we moved to the art table and extended our guided reading through play. Nyree focused on story comprehension with her young readers and shared this exciting tweet:

While these children discovered their voice and made connections to their text through play, here is a look at what happened in our Kindergarten classroom.

At the art table, I had set up thematic apple tree play dough mats along with a variety of colored play dough. The task was different for each group, as guided reading is meant to reach children at their current instructional level. Each group used their play dough to create a collaborative little book that would be just right for the readers in their group. This is how our play in guided reading has helped us to start our collection of kid-created guided reading little books.

In order to transition from reading to play, we looked closely at the text from our traditional guided reading work. We thought about the reading strategies we had learned together. Prior to this activity, I had identified the lesson focus, and created a template for our play-based books in Book Creator. (You can learn about other ways I have used Book Creator in our classroom here).

Readers Use Prior Knowledge

In the first group, we focused on looking closely at the thematic words in the text. We were learning about the ways in which books give us information, and how readers connect prior knowledge to vocabulary in text. We used the provided guided reading text to find important vocabulary words, and then added labels to our laminated play dough mats with dry erase marker. The children then used play dough to make the tree match the chosen label.

play dough and text
Play Dough and text
traditional vs. play based guided reading text

Readers Have 1-1 Correspondence for Words

In another guided reading group we focused on 1-1 correspondence for words in text. We practiced using patterned text to point to words as we read. We then moved to the art table to practice making play dough apples and pointing to teach apple as we counted. This supported the idea of one object for each number, which can be directly applied to the idea of 1-1 correspondence for words in text. These two children were up for the challenge and worked with higher numbers as well!

Apple Counting Sample Book

Readers Know Letters and Sounds

In yet another group, the children and I worked on developing alphabet knowledge by looking for letters in text. We talked about the ways in which we put letters together to make words, and then we put words together to make sentences. Children then moved to the art table where they used alphabet cookie cutters to make letters to put at the top of their apple tree (making the wonderful connection to the coconut trees in Chicka Chicka Boom Boom from earlier in the week). As children placed letters at the top, they identified the letter, and then found it on the alphabet strip in front of them, reinforcing letter and sound.

Setting up Guided Reading with Play Dough
Play Dough and Guided Reading
play dough book creator page

Readers Match Pictures to Text

Our final guided reading group focused on matching text to pictures, and developing color word knowledge. We began by matching color word cards to the available play dough colors. Children then used prepared sentence strips and color word cards to make sentences. Finally, they create play dough apple trees that matched. We practiced rereading each sentence, while pointing to each word, and then checking the picture to make sure it matched the text.

color apples play dough book

play dough image to match text

In order to create the kid-made books, I had a template set up in Book Creator for each group (with the exception of the book which used the sentence strips for text instead). During their play, I was able to help them use the iPad to take photos of their work to add to the book. They were also able to help add to the text template that was available. Using Book Creator allows us to create beautiful books that we are able to print out so that each child will have a hard copy for his/her little book collection.

Next week we will be adding sound buttons to the text and uploading the books into our iBooks collections so that children have personalized listening centers as well. We will also be uploading them into Seesaw portfolios so children can practice listening and reading stories at home.

This year we will continue #innovatingplay in guided reading as children engage in meaningful play-based creations of their own guided reading books. We will keep you posted on our journey. If you have ideas for #innovatingplay and literacy, please share on Twitter! We would love to hear from you!

Heart & Soul,


#BookCreator #literacy #innovatingplay




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