“Watch Out Books! I’m Reading with Expression!

Sarah Grizzle
Growing Independence and Fluency

In order for children to become effective readers, they must learn to read fluently.  Fluency is the ability to read faster, smoother, expressively, silently, and voluntarily.  This lesson is designed to help students learn how to read with expressions.  By reading and rereading decodable words in connected texts, children will learn the importance of expressions and how  it can make a book more enjoyable.

1.  “Today I Feel Silly & Other Moods That Make My Day” by Jamie Lee Curtis
2.  (Level 2) An I Can Read Books:  “The Josefina Story Quilt” by Eleanor Coerr, “Caps For Sale” by Esphyr Slobodkina, “Arthur’s Honey Bear” by Lillian Hoban, “Play Ball, Amelia Bedelia” by Peggy Parish (These are a few examples to have in the classroom library.)
3.  Punctuation Chart with example sentences:  (Stop, do not go in there!,  Mom will not let me go outside today.,  I love to eat cookies., Where did my dog go?)
4.  Expression Worksheets with four sentences and four expression pictures (pictures can be created from computer clipart or drawn)  Sentence examples include: How did you do that?  I got lots of presents for my birthday.  I lost my favorite teddy bear.  The storm is coming this way!
5.  Sentence strips
6.  Fluency check sheets (Example on Dr. Murry's website "Developing Reading Fluency.")

1.  In a monotone voice, say:  “Hello class. Today we are going to learn how to read with expression.  Does anyone know what expressions are? (Allow students to respond and then change voice to speak expressively.)  I was not using expressions in the way I was just talking.  We read with expression when we put feelings into our words and when we change the speed and volume of our voices.  Reading with expression allows you to feel whether the tone of the words are sad, happy, scary, confused, mad, or many other moods.  When we learn to read with expressions, we learn how to enjoy the books we are reading.  Today, we are going to learn how to read with expressions and practice, practice, practice, so we can learn to enjoy the books we are reading!”

2.  Review punctuation with students and explain how punctuation is important in letting us know what kind of expression to use when reading a sentence.  (Show Punctuation Chart with example sentences. Model sentences to students.) Say to students: “When we read sentences that end in an exclamation point, our voices tend to speed up and get louder.” (Model with sentence, Stop, do not go in there!)  “Sentences that end with a period usually use our normal voices and they can sometimes make a sad or happy tone.” (Model with sentences, Mom will not let me go outside today. and, I love to eat cookies.)  “When we read sentences that end with quotation marks, our voices get higher and the expression can have a confusing sound to it .” (Model with sentence, Where did my dog go?)  “The type of punctuation at the end of a sentence is a big hint in helping us to identify what expression to use.  Remember to look for these helping hints and you will soon be able to read lots of books that are full with fun expressions!”

3.  Give each student an expression worksheet.  Say:  “Now that we have reviewed our punctuation, we will practice identifying what kinds of expressions go with certain punctuation marks.  There are four sentences that end with either a period, exclamation point, or quotation mark.  Across from the sentences are four different expression pictures: sad, happy, confused, and scared.  After reading each sentence, you are to match the tone of the sentence with its proper expression by drawing a line to the expression.  For example, if the sentence ended with an exclamation point and it said, “There is a monster under my bed!,” I would draw a line to the scared expression picture.” (Go around room and help students that are having problems.)

4.  Read, “Today I Feel Silly & Other Moods That Make My Day” by Jamie Lee Curtis, aloud to students and model how to use expression when reading.  Say:  “I am going to read a story aloud and I want you all to listen to the different sounds my voice makes and watch the different expressions on my face.  After I read, we will all practice reading with many expressions.”

5.  Have a classroom library of an assortment of (Level 2) "An I Can Read Books.  Put students into dyad reading pairs so that there is an advanced reader and a slower reader. Give each student a sentence strip. Say:  “Now I am going to put you into reading pairs.  Together you will choose a book to read and you will take turns reading to one another.  Make sure you read with expression and help each other identify different types of expressions.  I have given each of you a sentence strip.  When reading, I want you to pick out your favorite sentence that uses expression and write it down.  We will share these sentences with the class after we read.”

6.  For assessment, walk around the room while the students are in the dyad reading pairs.  Listen to students read  sentences to one another and mark whether or not they are reading with expressions on fluency check sheets.  Once reading groups are through, have students come together and share their favorite expression sentences.  Make sure children can identify the expression of their sentence and are using the correct tone of voice.  Say: “You have all did a wonderful job in learning to read with expression!” (Have students repeat you and say: “Watch out books!  I’m reading with expression!”)


Eldredge, J. Lloyd.  Teaching Decoding in Holistic Classrooms.  Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice  Hall, Inc., 1995.  pp. 122-145.

The Genie Website; www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/fluency.html


For further information or questions, please e-mail me!

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