Crabs Can't Nap But You Can Read!

Alicia Ellis

Growing Indepence and Fluency


Good readers decode rapidly and automatically. Human attention is limited so in order to understand connected text, our attention cannot be directed to the identities of individual words and letters. To learn to read skillfully, children need practice in seeing and understanding decodable words in real reading situations and with connected text.


Copy of Nat the Crab for each student

Stopwatch for each pair of students

Pencil and a few sticky notes for each student

Sentence strip: I can tap and spin.

Checklist for teachers

Fluency Sheets:

   Name of Reader:                                 

   Name of Partner:                                

        Words read 1st time:                          

        Words read 2nd time:                         

        Words read 3rd time:                          

I noticed that my partner:

        2nd time         3rd time

           O                     O        Remembered more words

           O                     O        Read faster

           O                     O        Read smoother

           O                     O        Read with expression



Explain to students the purpose of the lesson.  "Today we are going to talk about improving fluency.  In order to become a successful reader, you must be able to read fluently.  Fluency is when you are able to read fast without stopping to sound out each word.  You recognize the words automatically and you read them with little or no effort.  Once you become fluent readers, the text will begin to make more sense because you do not have to try so hard to read each word.  One way that we can work on fluency is by reading a text more than once.  Each time you read the text, you get faster because you are becoming more familiar with the text.  Today we are gong to practice fluency by reading a text more than once and seeing how much we can improve."

Remind students to cross check if they do not automatically recognize a word during their reading.  "Do not forget that cross checking is a tool that fluent readers use to make sense of the sentences that they read and to read more successfully.  If you do not automatically recognize a word use your cover-up critter to make it easier to sound out. Once you have figured out how to pronounce a word, re-read the sentence, making sure to include the word that you just sounded out. If that word doesn't make sense with the rest of the sentence, try another word and re-read the sentence again. If you and your partner just can't figure out what the word is, raise your hand and I will be sure to come over and help you out."

Model for the students how to read with fluency.  Display a sentence strip with the following sentence:  I can tap and spin.  Tell students, "First, I am going to read the sentence without fluency.  I cccaaannn tttt..ttttaaa..p and ssssppp..spppiiinnn.  Now I am going to read the sentence as a fluent reader would.  I can tap and spin.  Did you hear the difference between reading with fluency and reading without fluency? I didn't spend a lot of time sounding out my words. I was able to read the sentence quicker and more fluently. Listen as I read a different sentence and you tell me if I am a beginning reader or a fluent reader. The dog licked my face.  Did I read the sentence as a fluent reader or as a beginning reader?  A fluent reader, that's right!  Good job!"

We are going to use the book Nat the Crab to practice improving our fluency. The book is divided up into two parts: Nat's Nap and Nat's Trip. Give the following Book Talk for Nat's Nap: It's time for Nat the crab to take a nap but Nat says crabs don't nap! Crabs can do a lot of other things but naps are not one of them. Is Nat telling the truth or is he just trying to avoid a nap? We'll have to read to find out what happens! I will instruct the students to stop on page 9 of the book which is the end of the section of the book entitled Nat's Nap. Students will read Nat's Nap more than once to improve their fluency.    

Divide the students up into groups of two and give each student a copy of the book and each pair a stopwatch.  One student will be the reader and the other student will be the timer.  Then, the two students will switch jobs.  "When it is your turn to read, I want you to see how many words you can read in one minute smoothly and fast.  Remember: do not skip any words.  You can put a sticky note of where you left off so that you will know where to stop counting.  When you are finished reading, count the number of words that you read in one minute and write that number on your fluency sheet.  I want you to keep switching with your partner until you have each read three times.  You can start now."

As the students begin their reading, I will walk around the classroom to hear them reading and to give them assistance if needed.



To assess, I will call each student to my desk one by one and have them bring up their fluency checklist. I will have a checklist of my own that I will mark on as I have the student read Nat's Nap to me once through. As they read it, I will write down whether they are reading fast and fluent or stumbling over their words. I will write down miscues as well. Then, once they are finished reading, I will assess their comprehension by asking the following questions:

What kind of animal is Nat?

What does Nat try to tell the boy he can't do?

What are some of the things that Nat can do?

What ends up happening at the end of the story?

For further assessment, I will have students practice reading Nat's Trip starting on page 10 of Nat the Crab. They will time themselves and practice their fluency on their own a few times at home and then come back the following day and come to my desk one by one again for me to make an assessment.

Checklist for teacher to use:

Can the student identify which sentence is read with fluency?

Can the student read the story to the teacher smoothly and quickly?

Can the student comprehend the text and answer the questions for comprehension?



Adams, Marilyn Jager. Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning about Print. 1990. pp.88-94.

Cary, Alice. Nat the Crab. Open Court Publishing Company. 1995.

Kim Holzapfel. The Buzzing Bumble Bee. Fall, 2006.

Return to Sightings Index