Saturday, October 19, 2013

Fourth Grade Reading Buddies

I have this idea in my head of my perfect school. I'm sure I"m not the only teacher out there who has this perfect school planned out. A place where the ideals and values I hold dear are expressed. One of my ideas is to have older kids mentoring younger kids. I love the school I teach at now. It is the school I went to in 7th and 8th grade and it's where I want my kids to go to school. We have a lot of history and it's a unique place. One of the unique things about it is it's a k-8 school. I enjoy getting to see my kids that I've had in class grow up. My first loop is in 6th grade now and it has been great to see them mature. One of the downsides to the k-8 school is that eighth graders don't always pay attention to the younger students. They don't set the example I think they should. I think mentoring could help that. Well, one of my best friends teaches fourth grade. (We might or might not be planning to take over the world by teaching reading.) She and I worked on the summer reading program. As school started, we started talking about pairing our students up for a buddy program. And about 3 weeks ago we got this buddy program going. We met before hand and talked about what our goals were and worked on pairing up the students apropriately. It worked out well, because her class was part of a loop I had a few years ago. So I knew quite a few of the kids already and their backgrounds. We worked too on pairing up our ELL students so they could learn from each other and be supported with language.
Our first meeting, we had the kids interview each other. They asked questions about reading and learning preferences. We came up with 4 or 5 questions and the fourth graders recorded the answers. Then they read a few books together.

This was one of our favorite pairings. They were so cute together and it was beneficial to both students.
The next week we read books all about fall and fall things like spiders and bats. There was a mix of fiction and non fiction. Together they worked on coming up with facts and the fourth graders recorded them on paper. Then we gave them an apple and they picked one fact to write on the apple. My intention was to put up a tree on a bulletin board and then add the apple facts. But it hasn't happened yet. I wish I had taken some pictures because they were really engaged. My kids were asking when their partners were coming all day and were so excited.
This past week we had each student bring a couple of favorite books. The fourth graders picked out characters and books they enjoyed to share with the kindergartners and then my students picked a couple of books they have been reading to read. My friend and I walk around the room while they are reading and listen in on the reading. It is so neat to see the fourth graders teaching the kindergartners. There was one fourth grader asking the kinder to predict what was going to happen. Here are a couple of pictures from this past week:

We've started making some plans for upcoming meetings. One of our ideas is to celebrate fall and Halloween together. We are no longer allowed to have parties to celebrate Halloween so we thought we'd meet on Halloween and do a fun activity together. I have seen a couple of good ideas on pinterest. One that I like is making pumpkins and then describing the pumpkins with adjectives. We've been working on sensory words and I think this would be a neat activity. Another idea we've been working on is a reading scavenger hunt through the school. I have a students who claims he doesn't want to learn to read. (That's a first for me) We're hoping we can show him that he needs reading in his life. We've also been discussing doing a visualizing activity. The fourth graders have been working on this skill. 
This week our reading skill is character. While in Kindergarten we are only trying to identify the characters and starting to describe them. In fourth grade the skill involves describing and using text evidence. I'm trying to come up with an activity for us to do using this skill.
So do you do anything like this? I would love to hear about it if you do and what kinds of activities you do. I'm really excited for the potential this type of relationship has. 
I'm hoping to be back to regular blogging soon. I've been working on some ideas and scheduling some posts. Things have been crazy the past few weeks and I think they are finally calming down some. I'll be back tomorrow for a peek at my upcoming week. 


  1. What a great idea! I'm sure like you said the kids at both levels are getting something out of it. I think it really helps the younger ones too in having that new role model.


  2. Love this. Reading Buddies/partners/mentors are such an important aspect of school. This isn't just one way either because it teaches both students benefits and lessons they'll remember for a long time.

    well done

  3. At my former school, my kinders had 5th grade buddies. Our Reading Recovery teacher trained the 5th graders in strategies to use with the kinders. The students were paired together and worked on alphabet letters at first, then sight words and emerging readers. At holidays we planned special activities and projects. We expected my kinders to grow from this, but we also found that the 5th graders were using the strategies in their own class work. Some of them even made their own card and board games to use with their kinder buddies. My current school is preK-2nd, so I really miss having buddies.

  4. I teach 4th grade and we also have Book Buddies. These are the 2nd graders. I have always enjoyed doing this. We read books, make things, play games, do math activities, write, etc. this year is a little harder because we normally have 2- second grade classes and 2-fourth grade classes, but this year we have 2-second grade classes and 3-fourth grade classes. All the teachers want their students to have the opportunity to do Book buddies, but it has been a learning year as we try to keep all the classes and students involved! Next year we will be back to 2 of each class.

  5. I've been wanting to set this up forever! Such a great idea. I think you've inspired me to finally get it going. I have so many reluctant readers in my group this year (3rd graders) and I think they would so benefit from reading to younger students and building up some confidence. Thanks so much for this post!