How I Teach Close Reading (and a FREEBIE!)

Close reading is a critical skill for students to develop, and what could get them more excited to pay attention than creepy, crawly ants? “All About Ants” is the Prepared Passages Trifold we are tackling in the video above and, as you know, kids love bugs. By the end of this session, they love close reading techniques, too!

Make a prediction

I ask the children if we will be reading fiction or non-fiction—asking them to pay attention to text features to draw conclusions about what they will read. What do we think we will learn?

The students know that ants are real and they recognize the photograph as real as well, and I ask them to share quick predictions about the text based on these clues. Each student reads their own prediction and some of them are so detailed! They have arrived at the correct conclusion: we will be reading a nonfiction passage about ants.

Preparing to read

The trifolds are opened and everyone has their Annotation Bookmark close at hand. I ask the students to describe the characteristics of close reading with a key question: When we do a close read, what are we really doing?

“Digging in.” “Reading the passage more than once.” That’s it!

Our first close read

When we are reading, we are also thinking. The Annotation Bookmark helps students remember that one of the tasks of close reading is to absorb the information and highlight key words and concepts. Each student is asked to make at least one annotation mark as they do their first close read.

Close Reading - First Read Through

When everyone has finished, I go around the circle and ask each child to share their annotation and their reasoning behind it. “Unknown Words” are circled, so kids can look them up at the conclusion of the close read. “Important Fact or Detail” is another popular one, as is “I Don’t Understand.”

Once the children have all shared their annotation marks, we discuss the definitions of unknown words and unpack the confusing passages using context clues so that each child has grasped the essential facts of the passage.

Our first activity

Now we are going to dig deep and find specific, important details of the text. I pass out the prompt (“How are ants similar to bees?”) and bright pink highlighters. I ask the children to look at the text and highlight passages that connect ants to bees. Students quickly identify that ants live in colonies, they have a queen, queens lay the eggs, and male ants mate with the queen.

Close Reading with Pink Highlighters

The blue highlighter prompt asks students to select details in the text that describe what female ants are responsible for. I take some time to make sure everyone understands what this prompt is looking for, and they do—female ants build the anthills and find the food to feed everyone in the colony. And they act as soldiers, raiding different colonies. (Ants are so fun!)

Close Reading with Blue Highlighter

The yellow highlighter is to be used to find facts scientists have proven about ants. The kids pick out that scientists have tested ants to prove they can carry 20x their own weight! How did carpenter ants get their name is our green highlighter question, and we discover that their ability to chew through wood is what needs highlighting.

And we’re done!

The students close their trifolds with a real feeling of accomplishment and with a whole new perspective on ants. This is a great way to share a close reading session with your students, so go get your Read-Its Close Reading Freebie here and let me know how it goes!

Flip Flap Books like “All About Ants”

Love, Anna

“All About Ants” Flip-Flap Book Reviews

“The students loved it! They liked creating the ant hill with more ants. I would use it again.” – Rebecca G. 

“My kids really enjoyed adding to their learned knowledge about ants. This was a fun flip book for them to work on. They enjoyed having lots to color, details to add, and, opportunity to add additional information. Thank you for creating this!” – Elizabeth S. 

“My students are loving this booklet! It works great for a series of mini-lessons and a culminating project for ant nonfiction unit! Going to check the other flip books as well!” – Yolanda D. 

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