Tips and Tricks for Read Alouds for a Balanced Literacy Classroom

 Read Alouds

Today we are going to talk about how to choose a read aloud, how to make them interactive, and skills that you can teach through a read aloud.

I have found through read alouds, that phonemic awareness along with phonics can happen seamlessly. 

Reading to students is so important!

Remember it's not as easy as learning to talk.

Reading involves understanding letters and sounds.

  • Students have to be able to read words fluently to understand the comprehension.
  • They also have to be able to figure out vocabulary words that they may have never learned before.
  • Lastly, they have to learn to self monitor if things do not make sense to them when they are reading independently. 

Read alouds can help if you focus and plan.



  • Plan to read the text more than once, with each repeated reading it will help the students understand the comprehension. 

  • Think about questions you can ask to develop a students comprehension skills. (Here is the link to access my sheet of comprehension questions) 

  • Before and during that read aloud, focus on vocabulary and building the background of that knowledge. When they do not know a word use the picture, use the clues to help them figure it out through the book. 

  • When rereading, prompt the students to recall the details that they remember from the story. 

  • Reinforce vocabulary and develop and discuss questions that develop their lower and higher level questions. 

  • Look for other ways to connect the story to other items in your curriculum. 

Make the read aloud interactive 

  • Provide opportunities for discussion, try partner discussion with 1-2 people.

  • Have the students draw a quick sketch of what they think might happen in the story.

  • Have them act the story out.

  • Have the students close their eyes and imagine the scene that they are seeing. 

  • Let the students explain what they are thinking while reading the story. 

Check out the questions I ask as I read.

Skills to use 

  • Introduce the title (for example Baby Owls) 

    • Ask them, "What do you know about baby owls?" Discuss

    • Count the words in the title, clap multisyllabic words, focus on sight words known

    • Try to make a connection with a prior story.

  • As you read, remember to use pictures and words within the story to help them understand vocabulary that they might not know yet. Try to incorporate those words throughout the week and in later classroom discussions. 

  • If something doesn’t make sense to you explain to them why you are rereading it and clarify what you did to make it make sense. Use what you are thinking to help them. (When I do this, I close the book and put it down. This will help the kiddos understand it's my thinking not the words in the book.) 

  • At the end of the story make an inference- talk about how the character in the story acted or how they feel. Click here to get some Comprehension Questions to ask.

  • Summarize the story and add a connection 

Remember if there is not enough time in the day, you do not have to do everything we talked about, you can customize the skills you know your students need to work on when they are reading BUT never skip the read aloud time!



7 Ways to Improve the Executive Function Skill of Working Memory in Kids


What is working memory?

It’s part of a group of skills called executive function that includes skills that enables students to plan, focus attention, control impulses, prioritize tasks, set and achieve goals.

Working memory refers to how students hold on to and work with information that short-term memory stores, in other words short-term memory.

Students use working memory to learn and follow directions. There are many ways to improve working memory of students in the classroom.

How can you work memory?

1. Draw pictures of stories.

Read or tell folktales and encourage kids to create a picture in their mind of what they’ve heard. Then have them draw a picture.

2. Play matching games.

Think of the classic game Concentration or sometimes called Memory. You can turn many academic skills into a memory game. I use rhyming memory, dot cards/numbers, sight words etc. Make 2 copies and turn just about any skill into a game.


Teach Magically students playing rhyming memory
Click to check out Rhyming Memory Game

3. Search printed materials.

Give kids a magazine page and ask them to cut out a letter you are studying or words (the). They have to hold the letter/word in their minds as they search (have them cut out the words/letters and paste to a paper...fine motor work...WIN WIN! 

4. Have children teach other children.

Being able to explain how to do something involves making sense of information and mentally filing it. Have students partner up and teach each other. Teaching each other makes them work together right away instead of waiting to be called upon in class.

5. Play cards at recess or at centers.

Simple card games like Crazy Eights, Uno, Go Fish, and War can improve working memory. Like  all games:

  • They have to keep the rules of the game in mind.
  • They also have to remember what cards they have and which ones other people have played.
  • They need to remember when to take a turn.

6. Encourage active reading.

Talking out loud and asking questions about the reading material can also help with working memory. Interactive read aloud makes it happen easily. So stop as you read and discuss the ideas that  pip into the kiddos' heads or make an effort to review and discuss as you read....don't wait to just the end!


7. Chunk information into smaller bites.

Ever wonder why phone numbers and social security numbers have hyphens in them? Because it’s easier to remember 3-4 numbers than it is to remember one long string of numbers.

Keep this in mind when giving multi-step directions.

  • Give 1 direction at a time.
  • Make them repeat it out loud and then in their heads.
  • Have them practice saying the directions over and over as they move.

Card games, visualization and other fun activities can help build working memory so be sure to incorporate it as much as possible.



The Best Site to Practice Skills for Kindergarten Students

Teach Magically Best Sight for Learning
Kindergarten students need engaging activities to learn and practice skills. They need a lot of time to develop al skills...reading, writing, math, thinking...

What app is the best site to practice skills?

Boom cards, of course! Have you heard of them or use them?


Teach Magically Boom Cards Pin

What are boom cards?

It is platform where you will have a student log on and you create or purchase educational activities. They are interactive, fun and easy to use BUT the part that I love the most is that they are self checking.

I use these during center time, free choice time, and distance learning. They are an easy, no prep way to help all students learn and practice skills.

Students don't have the chance to learn something incorrectly.
Teach Magically Boom Cards Sight Words

Why are boom cards so great?

  • It’s digital and saves paper.

  • Differentiates instruction.

  • Holds students accountable for independent work. 

  • Saves teachers/ parents time because its done (time saving!).

  • Students love it. 

  • They can receive badges and rewards. 

  • There is immediate automatic feedback. 

  • The deck are mixed up so they can not just memorize the order of answers. 

  • They can not go onto the next card until they get the right answer.

  • It will show them the answer if they give up.

  • You can even buy decks from Teachers Pat Teachers. 

  • The purchased decks will save right to your library. 

  • The price for the premium subscription is only 35$ a year so you cansee how the students are doing.

  • They offer a 30 day free trial for premium subscription. 

  • If you don't want to purchase the premium subscription, you just have to copy the link provided by the teacher and go to the play fast button. Fast play is free. 

  • It is easy to set up your classroom. 

  • Students can use a picture password to login.

  • You can assign all the students the same cards or you can customize it based on individual needs.

  • There is speaker to read the cards.

Check out  to see samples of all the games I use in my classroom.

You can also purchase them from Tpt 👉Teach Magically Boom Cards! Be sure to check it out!



8 Best Videos to Teach the Tricky Teen Numbers

Teen numbers can be so difficult for kiddos. These are the best videos I have found to use in the classroom to build teen numbers, understand the place value, and write teen numbers. Some are on my 10 Best Videos for Math post.
I also provide independent practice with Boom Cards. I have included the Jack Hartmann teen number videos in my Boom Card Practice games to add another layer of fun. Check out a FREE sample. You can see all my Teen Number Activities Here.

1. Numberblocks - Teen Numbers

Join teen numbers - thirteen, fourteen & fifteen in this video. It really shows how teen numbers have a group of 10.

2. Numbers in the Teens (They start with a 1)

I always use this video AFTER I have taught the concept or teen number have group of 10. It's for review and practice. It really hleps the students that struggle.

3. Teen Numbers Are So Much Fun! Identifying teen numbers & quantities

4. Addition Facts Song - Ten Plus Facts - It's Not Five-Ten!

This video is all about numbers so I use it with students that understand number sense.

5. Teen Number Song and Routine: I Can Write Teen Numbers!

The students enjoy Teacher Toni's accent. 

6. Numbers in the Teens (Have a Group of Tens)

This place value video helps with number sense.

7. Teen Numbers | Numbers in the Teens

The kiddos sing this one as they write numbers in other places. Fun tune.

8. Teen Numbers | Teen Numbers in the Air

I love to use this during brain breaks and to get some movement into math class. Writing in the air always happens before we write on paper.

I hope these videos help your kiddos learn and understand teen numbers!

Classroom Management Lining Up Idea

Classroom Management Lining up Idea Teach Magically
One of the most difficult things to make a classroom run smoothly is classroom management. It can make or break a teacher so I have a bit of advice.

"If you find yourself getting upset with the students' behaviors...STOP...and think about what you can change."

I had some issues with students that were running to get into line and fighting about where they wanted to stand in the line.

So I decided to teach exactly what I wanted to see and hear when they got into line.
Kids in Line Teach Magically

I put small pieces of floor tape spaced apart with numbers. Each child was given a number based on the first letter of their name. Hint, hint...ABC order made it easy for me to remember their numbers!

I modeled how the students should line up:
  • Stand up.
  • Walk quietly to their number.
  • Stand quietly facing forward.
  • Wait patiently. (Check out ways to wait patiently.)
They had to tell me what they saw me do and what they heard as I went into line. 

Then I had 3 students practice. As a group we discussed what we saw and heard! A bunch of compliments were given for the great lining practice.

We tried 5 different students next and offered many more compliments. Then we tried the entire class. I offered many compliments for quiet walking students.

For the next several week, before we lined up, I asked the students to "think about" what it should look like and sound like when we get into line.

As the weeks continued, I would give the "thinking reminder" whenever I noticed a rule that wasn't being followed.

The students then started to get into line with the friends that were in front or behind them. It was magical!

I hope this helps you create a magical classroom experience!

Here are some other management ideas:

4 Fun Ways to Practice Segmenting cvc Words

picture of  wow face Teach Magically

Segmenting is the earliest predictor in future reading success. It is one of the most important things kiddos can do to help them develop as readers. BUT we all know that there is never enough time to fit everything into a regular day!


Kid Hopping into Squares Teach Magically

So what can you do to help beginning readers segment cvc words?

I make sure that I do at least one of these activities a day, each day to develop this important skill. At the beginning of the year, we only work on the sounds. We will add the letters as we know them. 1/2 way through the year, they can write the letters to stand for the sounds.

1. Hopping

Create 3-4 boxes on the floor with masking tape. Give kiddos a word, they will hop in the first box and say the sound of just the first letter, hop the second box and say the sound of the second letter, continue until all the letters are completed.
    • Hint-The other students can write the letters that stand for the sounds so everyone does something.

2. Touch Parts of the Body
  • Starting with head as the first sound, waist for the second sound and toes for the last sound. 
  • If they are more advanced and able to do 4 sounds- use head, shoulders, waist, and toes.

3.  Use BINGO dabbers to mark sound boxes then write the letters. Grab Segmenting Resources.

bingo dabbers for segmenting on Worksheet from Debora Marines Teach Magically

4. High Knee Touches

Put your hands in the air and have them touch their hand to the opposite knee for each sound. This is an amazing activity because you are crossing the midline. It makes the hemispheres of the brain work together.

Remember don't add letters until you are ready to work on phonics.

Segment every single day in a fun way to build phonemic awareness skills. What we do each day depends on the amount of time we have. If I need a "filler" I do an easy quick activity!

For beginning readers, they don't really understand how the sounds are broken apart inside of words. So practice, practice, practice. 

If you want the Owl cvc Word Cards- Grab them 👉Here Owl cvc Words Segmenting

Hope this helps you Teach Magically,


The Best Way to Help Beginning Writers Write Words Easily

 Writing Words Easily with Child's Writing from Teach Magically

What is the very best way to help students write words when you teach beginning readers and writers?

When students are writing, they often want to spell words correctly so I have a list of words that beginning readers and writers use a lot! BUT it's not a word wall!

Rhyming Posters to Help with Writing from Teach Magically
Grab them here.

They are in the form of rhyming posters for a quick reference! By looking for a picture that rhymes, students that don't know all the letters yet, can find the words easily! Trust me it will help those that struggle with knowing the letter names. (I also use them to practice rhyming...check it out Teach Words Easily.)

Pin with rhyming posters form Teach Magically

Writing Other Words Easily

Phonemic awareness is the best way to help students learn to write. It is the hardest phonological awareness skill! You can check out all the skills from easiest to hardest on this page.📃

Let's use the word cat for an example. 

1. I say the word slowly and tell the child to listen to the sounds. Then I have the child say it slowly after me. Lastly, the child says it slowly... independently.

2. I clap the syllables (1 clap for cat). Then the child claps with me. Lastly, I say, "Clap cat by yourself." As the child claps, I hold up fingers then the child tells me the total.

3. I segment each sound as I touch my head for the 1st sound /c/, my waist for the second sound /a/, and my toes for the 3rd sound /t/. Then I ask the child to do it with me. Finally, I ask the child to do it independently while touching their body.

4. Then it's time to write the letters that make the sounds. I touch my head and say the sound /c/. I ask, "Do you know the letter that makes the sound /c/?"

    ~If the answer is "Yes, a." I say, "Write it."

    ~If the answer is no, I stretch the sound again but stop at my waist and ask, "Do you know the letter that makes the /a/ sound?"

Repeat until the word is finished (if all you get is t...that's ok!)

I often say, "No worries, you'll learn that sound soon. We only write the letters for the sounds we know." Continue until the sentence is written.

Using this model will make writing happen easily and without frustration for kiddos.

So to recap:

  • Say the word slowly (stretch the word)
  • Listen to what sounds you hear 

  • How many sounds are there (clap it out) 

  • Segment each sound

  • Have them segment with you

  • Have them try it by themselves 

  • Think about the letters that make those sounds 

    • Break it down with each sound

    • Have them write the letter down on a paper. 

Remember they don't have to get the whole word right YET; they only write the sounds they know!

I hope your writing time is magical,

Easy Ways to Develop Listening Skills for All Students

Kids Playing Games to Develop Listening Skills
Can you guess what the very best way to help students understand and learn, especially students with ADHD?

After reading many research articles, I found that the best way to help students learn listening skills is by playing games!


Kids with arms raised

Yes games! Here is why. 

Executive function skills are one of the most difficult things for students to do, especially in kindergarten. Executive function skills include being prepared to learn, having materials, paying attention, inhibitory control, knowing what to do first and then second. 

What are the 3 most important beginning auditory function skills students need?

  • Memory 

  • Inhibitory Control or Self-Regulation

  • Attention 

Memory is knowing what to do and remembering it. When they hear a specific set of directions, they can remember what to do. In order to play a game, they have to remember how to play. 

Inhibitory control or self-regulation is when they have to stop and think before they do something. In order to play a game they have to wait their turn before playing. 

You can practice by playing this fun, easy game.

Attention is being able to focus and block out the distraction around them. All students, especially those with ADHD have a hard time blocking out other things that they are hearing. While playing games they have to pay attention to the game and block out what is going on around them. 


Remember any topic can be turned into a game/activity. 

I really like to play Memory with my students. All you need is two sets of matching cards with whatever topic you want to focus on. 

Kids playing memeory game to develop listening skills
Rhyming Memory Game

Another game is to take a card (sight words, letters, numerals) and put it in a box, have the student randomly pick out a card, then they have to say what is on the card.

My students live doing this with our "Sight Word Crash Game!"

child getting crash from a game
Sight Word Game

The old basic "Heads up Seven up" is a perfect game to help develop these skills.

How you may ask? All the steps and rules they have to follow while playing.

  1. They have to pay attention to what students have their thumb up. (attention)
  2. They can't make noise. (inhibitory control)
  3. They have to watch how they are walking. (inhibitory control)
  4. Once they are all back up at the front of the room, they have to stand still. (inhibitory control)
  5. They have to remember who they picked. (memory)
  6. They have to shake their heads yes or no not say yes or no. (attention, inhibitory control)
  7. They have to focus their attention on the person who is talking (attention), not the person who they picked. (inhibitory control) 

Remember any game will work to develop these skills! You can check out ALL MY GAMES for ideas! It works like magic!


💖 Debora~TeachMagically