Climbing the Mountain


Becoming Fluent Readers


-Susan Ross



In order for children to become fluent in reading, they must have practice recognizing words effortlessly and accurately.  This lesson will help students read faster by increasing their fluency with a specific book.  The students will have a word per minute goal they are trying to reach each time they read the text.



·        Copy of Book (per student) Sally Goes to the Mountains by Stephen Huneck

·        Stopwatch (per pairs of students)

·        Graph for each student- A piece of paper with a mountain on it, and a cut out of a dog.  Place numbers going up the mountain to represent Words Per Minute (WPM).  The students will place the dog on the number of words they read for a minute.  Their goal is to get to the top of the mountain.



          1.  INTRO:

          Show students the mountain.

          Say:  Today we will use this to see how we are improving in reading. 

We want our dogs to climb up the mountain as we read.  The farther up we get, the faster we are reading.  You will time your partner as he/she reads to see how many words they can read in one minute.  Our goal is to read as many words as we can.  The numbers on the side of your mountain show the number of words.  Each time we read, we want to try to read more and more words.  That is how we will get up the mountain.


Say:  I am going to read a sentence to you in two different ways.  When I am finished I want you to hold up one finger if you think it sounded better the first time.  I want you to hold up two fingers if you think the second sentence sounded better.


Sentence 1:  Ss-aa-llee aa-n-d  Sss-aa-rr-aaa ww-iii-nn-t-ooo t-h-e the mm-aaa-lll.

Sentence 2:  Sally and Sarah went to the mall.

Okay, hold up your fingers.

Good Job!  Sentence 2 sounded much better.  Would you rather listen to someone read like one or two?  What is the difference between one and two?  Good, you can understand sentence two better.  It would take us a long time to read a book if we read really slowly like in sentence 1.

So, today we are going to practice reading like sentence 2.


Say:  Now, we are going to read silently to ourselves.

Model:  Watch me as I read silently to myself.  (Move your finger along the text to indicate that you are reading)

Say:  We are going to read a book about a dog named Sally.  She is going on a trip to the mountains.  She meets all kinds of new friends and gets to do things she has never done.  Let's read and find out what neat things she will get to do.  Raise your hand if you have a question.

(Walk around and help students with questions they may have.)


Say:  Now we are going to read to our partners while they time us.

Model:  Have a student time you as you read for a minute.  Move the dog up the mountain to the amount of WPM you reached.

Say:  This is going to help us read faster.  Your partner will time you for one minute as you read.  When they say stop, put your finger on the last word you read.  When they say stop, put your finger on the last word you read.  Then, I want you to count the number of words you read from the beginning of the book.  Next, you will move your dog to the correct number on the mountain.  Remember that we are trying to get as far up the mountain as we can.  I want you to write down the number you reach on your paper so that we can remember what words you reached each time.

Model:  Show the students how to use the stopwatch and how to read one minute on it.


Let the students switch after each turn.  They should do this about 3-4 times.  Make sure to walk around and help when necessary.


1.     Compare the students WPM for each time the read.

2.     Have the students read to you and listen to the way they read.  See if they are reading fluently.  If not, have them practice rereading again.



Book:  Huneck, Stephen. (2001). Sally Goes to the Mountains. Harry N. Abrams Inc.

More on fluent reading:

Speedy Reading: By Jessica Pieplow