Let’s Go on a Reading Fluency Safari!


Growing Independence and Fluency

Jeannie Pearman


After students have learned to decode words and word "chunks," they must continue developing their reading skills by becoming fluent readers. Fluent readers  recognize words quickly and automatically, read with expression, comprehend texts fully, and can eventually develop the important skill of reading silently. When students are not fluent readers, they tend to stumble over words and pause at inappropriate times in the reading. These difficulties can take away from the meaning of a story or message and may discourage or frustrate a student. Students must develop fluency in order to become successful readers. The goal of this lesson is for students to develop strong reading fluency skills through repeated readings. Repeated readings are one of the best ways to develop fluency because each reading help students gain a better knowledge of the text.


1. The decodable book Jane and Babe (Shelia Cushman and Rona Kornblum, Educational Insights, 1990) for each student
2. Timers for each pair of students
3. Progress Sheets for each student
4. Reading Checklist for each student
5. "Safari" Jeep di-cuts for each student
6. Mat with a row of African safari animals on it for each student
7. Three small star stickers for each student


1. Introduce the lesson by first explaining to the students what reading fluency is and why it is important. Say: Today we are going to practice becoming fluent readers. Being a fluent reader means that you can read at the same pace that you regularly talk. When we talk to each other, we don’t race through our words too quickly, and we don’t talk too slowly either. Well, that’s how we need to read as well. When you read fluently, you can read with expression and you understand what you are reading better. The story makes more sense.

2. Next, model examples of what fluent reading is and is not. Say: Now, I am going to read you a few sentences, and I want you to tell me if I am reading them fluently or not. If I read a sentence fluently, I want you to give me a "thumbs up". If  I do not read a sentence fluently, I want you to give me a "thumbs down". Pausing in between each word read, "I am going to a movie with my friend tonight." Students should give a "thumbs down". Sounding out individual letters slowly read, "We have a big yellow dog named Sally." Again, students should give a "thumbs down". Finally, with fluency read, "I had a great time at school today!" The students should give a "thumbs up". Say: I sounded better when I read the last sentence because I read it without pausing for a long time in between words and because I knew every word I was reading right away and did not have to sound any out.

3. Introduce the repeated readings activity. Say: Now, I want you all to practice reading fluently. You are going to do this by getting into pairs and doing a special activity called repeated readings. Repeated readings are when you and your partner take turns reading a book out loud for one minute. You will time yourself using a timer (Model how to use the timers). After one minute, you will put a sticker after the last word you read in the book. You will then count how many words you read and write that number on the next blank space on a Progress Sheet. (See below). Don’t try to read too fast. It is important to understand what you are reading. Try to read at the pace you would if you were just talking to your neighbor. If you don’t know a word, try to sound it out. If you still can’t read it, ask your neighbor for help. After you read for a minute, your partner will do the same. We will do this a couple of times. I am also going to give you a little Safari Jeep (Jeep di-cut), and a piece of paper with different African animals on it. Every time you read more words in a minute, I want you to move your Jeep to the next animal. That means you are moving along in your Fluency Safari!  Now, while your partner is reading, I want you to pay attention to whether or not they are reading fluently. After the second and third times they read, fill out this checklist (Hold up the checklist for the students to see. Example below.) and mark whether or not your partner remembered more words, read faster, read smoother, or read with more expression than on their first try.

4. Pass out Jeep di-cuts, Safari Animals Mat, a Progress Sheet, a Reading Checklist, stickers, and a copy of Jane and Babe to each student. Put them in pairs, and have them spread out around the room.

5.Give a book talk to get the students interested in the book they are about to read. Say: Today you are going to read Jane and Babe. Jane is friends with a lion named Babe, but she has to wake him up. Do you still think Babe will be friendly when Jane wakes him up?

6. Go over how you want the students to practice reading fluently one more time while they are getting situated throughout the room.

7. Have each student read for one minute three times. Walk around the room to monitor and make sure everybody is doing what they are supposed to be doing.

8. After students have completed the repeated readings activity, have them read the book silently on their own until everyone else is finished.

9. For assessment after the lesson, collect the students’ Progress Sheets and call each student up one at a time to do a one-minute reading. Check words per minute and note repeated words, insertions, omissions, etc.


Tyler, Emily. Reading With Speed. http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/odysseys/tylergf.html

Hooper, Liz. On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!. http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/odysseys/hoopergf.html 

Cushman, Shelia. Kornblum, Rona. Jane and Babe. Educational Insights. 1990.

Progress Sheet

Name_____________               Date___________

Number of Words Read

First Reading ___________

Second Reading __________

Third Reading ___________

Reading Checklist

I noticed that my partner….

After 2nd Reading:                                      

1. Remembered more words _____       

2. Read faster_____                               

3. Read smoother_______                     

4. Read with expression _______           

After 3rd Reading:                                      

1. Remembered more words _____       

2. Read faster_____                               

3. Read smoother_______                     

4. Read with expression _______      

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