The Cat in the Hat Reads Fluently & Now You Can Too!

By: Killian Hodo, Growing Independence & Fluency

Rationale: Reading fluency is the ability to read with automatic, involuntary word recognition. When readers become fluent, they are able to focus their attention on comprehension. Fluent readers are also able to read quicker and with greater expression. Repeated reading is a great method to increase fluency. This lesson is intended to improve fluency through timed, repeated readings.



The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss (enough copies for every student)

Timer for the teacher and each student

Reading Time recording sheet for each student (see bottom)

Fluency Checklist sheet for each student (see bottom)

Cover-up critter for each student

Pencils for each student

Sentence strip that says: "Today I will fly a kite at the lake."




1. Set the purpose of the activity for your students so they understand why they are doing this lesson. Say: Today we will be working on becoming more fluent readers. Fluent readers have the ability to read quickly and smoothly while also using expression, which makes a story more interesting!


2. Put the sentence strip up on the board that reads: "Today I will fly a kite at the lake." First, read the sentence modeling how you would sound when not reading the sentence fluently. Say: "T-t-t-o-o-o-d-d-a-a-a-y-y I-I-I w-w-w-i-i-l-l-l-l f-f-l-l-l-y-y-y-y a-a-a k-k-i-i-i-i-te-te a-a-a-t-t-t th-th-th-e-e-e-e-e l-l-l-a-a-a-ke-ke-ke." Now read the sentence again, but read it fluently and with expression. Say: "Today I will fly a kite at the lake. Can you tell the difference between the first and second time I read the sentence? (Wait for response) Which time was it easier to understand what I was saying? (Wait for response) Yes. When I read the sentence the second time, it was easier to understand me because I read smoothly and with expression. This is reading fluently. Today we are going to work on reading quickly, smoothly and with expression so that others can better understand us as we read.


3. Say: Sometimes when reading, we come to words that we don't know. If this happens, you can use your cover-up critter to help you figure out the word. I'll show you how to do it. (Write chant on the board.) I'm going to pretend I don't know this word (point to the word kite). I will start with the vowel and cover up the other letters. The vowel is i_e and I know that it makes the /I/ sound because of that bossy e. Now I will uncover the letters before the i_e, which makes k-i- -e. I know that k makes the /k/ sound. If I put the /k/ and /I/ together, I will pronounce /kI/ and then uncover the rest of the word. The last part is /t/. If I blend it all together I get chant. If the word doesn't sound right, read the rest of the sentence and crosscheck. I'll show you how to crosscheck using the same sentence. 'Today I will fly my kit at the lake. OH! Kite! Crosschecking helps check whether we read the word correctly by looking at the other words in the sentence. If the cover-up critter and crosschecking don't help, try asking a friend.


4. Before reading, give the students a book talk on The Cat in the Hat in order to engage them in the story. Book talk: This story is about this brother and sister that are stuck at home while their mom is out. They are so bored when all of a sudden a huge cat wearing a hat comes to play with them. The cat and the children start playing, but the house starts getting very dirty and messed up. Will they be able to clean the mess up before their mom gets home? Read to find out!


5. Pass out a copy of The Cat in the Hat to each student. Say: I will read the book to you first. I want you to follow along in your book and notice how I read fluently.


6. After the teacher reads, explain that the students will be doing a rereading activity and also explain the purpose for rereading. Say: We will be reading and rereading The Cat in the Hat. We want to read the story more than once because the more we read a story, the better we understand it and the easier it is to recognize the words and read with expression.


7. The teacher should now divide students into pairs and allow them to spread out through the room. Give each individual student a pencil, a Reading Time sheet, a Fluency Checklist, and a copy of The Cat in the Hat. Each pair should also receive a timer.


8. The teacher now needs to explain how to do the activity. Say: One student will be the reader and the other will be the recorder. The reader will read as fluently as they can while the recorder will use the timer to keep track of how long it takes the reader to read the whole book. Be sure to stop the timer when your partner is done reading. On the Reading Time sheet, write down how long it took your partner to read. After your partner is done reading, go through the Fluency Checklist and check off all the things your partner did better when they read the story again. After you have finished filling in the sheets, switch jobs. Now the reader is the recorder and the recorder is the reader.


9. Before letting the students start the activity on their own, model how to do it with a student using a smaller passage. Say: "Susie and I are going to show you how to do the paired reading. Susie will time me while I read the poem Brontosaurus by Shel Silverstein." Read the poem and have the student time you. Say: "Thank you so much Susie! Now let's go over my checklist and I want you to tell me what I should check off based off of how I read the poem." Go through the checklist and make sure students understand what they are looking for when filling out the checklists!


10. Now allow the students to do the activity themselves. Move around the room to monitor the students. Check to make sure that they are on task and doing the activity properly. It is important that the students are properly filling in the sheets in order to get an accurate representation of each student's fluency.


11. The teacher will assess each student through the Reading Time and Fluency Checklist sheets. The information from the Reading Time sheet should be plugged into the following formula to determine the number of words read per minute:

Number of Words X 60

Time spent reading

To assess comprehension, the teacher should have each student write a short paragraph summarizing what happened in the story. This step is important because comprehension is the ultimate goal of reading.

Reading Time

Fluency Checklist


Name: ________________


Number of Words:________


1st Reading Time:_____________

2nd Reading Time:____________

3rd Reading Time:____________



Date of Reading:__________________


After rereading the story again, I noticed that my partner…(check all that apply)


___Remembered more words

___ Read faster

___Read smoother

___Read with expression





Wagner, Leigh. Fluency is Fabulous!  

Image Source:

The Cat in the Hat. Dr. Seuss. Random House New York 1985.


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