Monkeys Love Fluency!

Growing Independence and Fluency

Stephanie Thomson

A. Rationale: Fluency is an important reading skill because it helps with comprehension and reading more difficult texts. Repeated readings help develop fluency and help in the transition from decoding to automatic word recognition. In this lesson, students will do repeated readings of decodable texts and use their decoding strategies to gain more sight words and therefore become more fluent and faster readers.

B. Materials:  Student copies of The Best Little Monkeys in the World by Natalie Standiford. (Random House 1987), stopwatch or timer for teacher and each student, fluency checklist for each student (see bottom), reading record time sheet for each student (see bottom), cover up critter for each student (a cover up critter is created using a Popsicle stick, and two small googly eyes glued to one end), sentence strip that reads: "The monkey likes to eat bananas.", sentence strip that reads "I am very tired."

C. Procedures:

1. Say: "We need to read fluently if we want to become expert readers! Fluency is when we read words quickly and automatically. The main goal of fluency is to help with recognizing words and learn more sight words.  We can practice fluency by reading a book more than once so we become familiar with it.  We will call this a repeated reading.  When we read something a few times, we can recognize the words easier.  

2. Say:  "Let's practice what we would do if we come across a word that we don't know while we're reading! Remember, this is called crosschecking. Look at the sentence strip on the board. It says, The monkey likes to eat bananas. Listen as I try to read the word monkey in the sentence: The m-ah-n-k-ee…. mahnkey? See how I used my cover up critter to read the word that I didn't know? Let me finish the sentence to see if it makes sense. The mahnkey likes to eat bananas. Oh, monkey! Monkeys like to eat bananas! That sentence says: The monkey likes to eat bananas.  Then I am going to reread the sentence so that I will get the word right away the next time I see it. The monkey likes to eat bananas."

"Now I'm going to show you how a fluent reader sounds compared to a non-fluent reader. Let's look at the sentence on our next sentence strip: I am very tired.  First I make a few mistakes as I read: I um very tried.  Wait, that doesn't make sense. Let me try again. I a-a-am v-e-e-r-y-y t-i-i-i-r-ed. Did you understand what I was reading? Was it smooth and fast or slow and choppy? It was hard to remember and understand what I read because it was so slow.  Now listen to the difference when I read it fluently. I am very tired. Now I understand what I have read and understand what it says! It is good to practice reading fluently so we can better understand what we are reading. This is why we are going to read our book more than one time. Now practice reading this sentence with your partner: She stayed up all night playing. Read it until you are fluent at it and can understand what it means. "

3. Say: "Today we are going to read a book called The Best Little Monkeys in the World.  Book talk: Marvin and Mary are the happiest little monkeys because their baby-sitter is coming. She will talk on the phone all night and they will get to do whatever they want. Do you think Marvin and Mary are really the best little monkeys in the world? Or will they act up behind their baby-sitters back? Let's read to find out! You are going to practice reading fluently with this story. You will read and reread it, trying to read faster each time. The more you read the story, the easier it will be to recognize and remember the words." 

4. Give a copy of the text, a coverup critter, a reading time sheet, and a fluency checklist to each student. Put students in pairs and give each pair a stopwatch. Say: "When you read this story today, you are going to be reading it with a partner to check your fluency! You and your partner will take turns reading the story. You will each read it three times, trying to become more fluent each time. While you are reading, your partner will time you and record your total time on the reading time sheet when you are done reading the first time. Your partner will be listening to see if you are reading faster, smoother, remembering more words, and reading with expression each time. They will mark this on the fluency checklist. When you are done reading and recording all three times, talk about the chapter with your partner. What happened in the story? What do you think would have happened if the babysitter paid attention to the monkeys instead of being on the phone all night? Did you like the story?"

D. Assessment: Walk around the room to make sure they are on task and completing the activity, while also observing their reading fluency. Have students turn in fluency checklist and time sheet. The teacher will assess each student by looking over both the fluency checklist and time sheet. The teacher should use the formula: Words X 60 divided by amount of time-spent reading. The teacher will get this information from the time record sheet completed by each student's partner. The teacher will also have each student write a small paragraph summary of the text after they are done working with their partner. This will allow the teacher to see if the student is reading fluently as well as comprehending the text.


Smith, Blair. Junie B. Jones is Captain Fluency.

Wagner, Leigh. Fluency is Fabulous!

Standiford, Natalie, and Hilary Knight. The Best Little Monkeys in the World. New York:
          Random House, 1987. Print.


Timed reading sheet and fluency checklist:

Reading Time 

Fluency Checklist


Name: _____________________________

Date: ______________________________

Number of Words: ___________________


1st Reading Time: ____________________

2nd Reading Time: ____________________

3rd Reading Time: ____________________


Name: ____________________________

Date of Reading: ____________________

Evaluator: _________________________


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

___ Remembered more words

___ Read faster

___ Read smoother

___ Read with expression

















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