Simon Says: Mother May I?

Growing Independence and Fluency Design
Jennifer Ruschhaupt


In order for students to become independent and fluent readers they must practice fast, smooth and expressive repeated readings.  “Repeated readings, strengthen, through repetition, the links between letters in the orthographic processor (Adams p 93).”  Rereading a text allows students to increase the number of words per minute, which in turn increases the fluency rate.  With an increase in fluency comes an increase and ease in comprehension and general interest in reading.



Class set of books that vary by reading level (decodeable text): Jane and Babe, stopwatch (1 per two students), pencils, a pre-made illustrations of a playground, a shoe cut out: one for each student, sentence strip with “On the playground my favorite game to play is Mother May I.”, reading checklist, tape recorder, and one tape per child.



  1. Introduce the lesson. Today we are going to practice reading a passage from a book multiple times.  Multiple means more than once, and as we read the passage each time we will get better at reading it.  Reading is like sports and other activities in that way, as we practice, we get better. 
  2. Model how to complete the rereading portion of the activity for the students.  I am going to read you a sentence and I want you to listen closely as I read and pay attention to how I say each word. (Read sentence strip slowly at a beginning readers level.)  Now what did you think about the way that it sounded when I read that?  It was a little slow and choppy wasn’t it?  Now I am going to try it again, and since I have read it once before, I predict that it won’t take me as long because I am already familiar with many of the words in the sentence.  (Read sentence strip again, this time with ease and expression.)  Wow, reading was much easier that time!  What do you all think about how it sounded the second time?  What were some of the differences and which one was more effective?  Now I am going to give you all the opportunity to try the same thing with a partner.
  3. Have reading pairs pre-assigned according to reading level so that the books can be appropriately assigned according to reading levels.  Pass out playground sheet and six shoes per group.  I am going to put you into groups of two that I have already picked out.  I am going to give each of you a stopwatch and you both are going to play a game of Mother May I Read?  In your group you will take turns being the mother.  The mother is going to be the one timing the partners reading.  We are going to be reading for one minute each time, and I want you to read as many words as you can in that minute.  If you get stuck on a word use the cover up method to try to figure it out.  I will also be walking around to help if you need.  After your one-minute is up, stop and count the number of words you have read by starting at the beginning and going to where you stopped and write that number on one of the shoes.  The picture of the playground is numbered 1-100, place your shoe along that number line where it fits.  For example, if you read 36 words in a minute you would write 36 on your shoe and place it here just a little bit after the 35 mark.  (Model for the students how to count the number of words and how to write and place the shoe.)  Now the object is to get as close as possible to the mother here on the far end of the playground.  So your first shoe may be placed at 36 and as you reread the passage your reading will improve and so your number will increase and you will move closer to getting to mother.  After you have read three times switch so that your partner may have a chance.
  4. Once each of you has read I want you to practice individually and I will call you back one at a time to do a one-minute read with me.  As each student comes back, record they’re reading so that they may hear their own expression and speed.  While you are recording make note on the reading checklist of any missing components of a fluent reader ie: speed or expression issues.  Then play back recording so that student may hear and discuss ways to improve, and tell them good job and effort!



I will assess the students by observation as I walk around, and also by checking progress made on the shoes as they are placed on the playground.  It is necessary that they increased speed and moved closer to the mother each time.  I will then individually assess each reader by doing individual one-minute reads with each student to better develop and assess expression using the reading checklist.



<> Adams, MJ. Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning about Print. Department of
        Education, University of Illinois: 1990. p 93. <>

Cushman, S., and Kornblum, R. Jane and Babe. Educational Insights. Carson City, CA. 1990.

Lunsford, Valerie, “Hop into Speedy Reading” at

Schofield, Rebecca, “It’s a bird, it’s a plane, No, it’s a fluent reader!” at

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