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Hi!  I'm Sally from Elementary Matters, and I'm thrilled to be guest blogging on Conversations in Literacy!

Athletes warm up for an event by doing easy exercises to get their muscles ready.  Musicians warm up their instruments.  Singers warm up their voices.  Don't you think readers should do some warming up as well?

I always start reading groups with a warm up.  My students learn that they need to be working on their warm up before the teacher even sits down.  I usually write on the board what the warm up will be, and make sure the materials are on the reading table, so they'll be warmed up by the time I get to the reading table.

I do this for a few reasons.  First of all, they need to warm up!  Second of all, it gives me some time to get the other children settled and put out any fires before I become preoccupied with my reading group.

The warm up should consist of something that is easy for the readers.  That means well below their instructional reading level.  When the children sit down to read, I insist they read "out soft".  Yes, the term "out soft" is one I made up, but it makes sense to the children.  "Out loud" isn't appropriate, of course, since there are others trying to focus on their own activities.   "Out soft" means loud enough to hear themselves, and loud enough for the teacher to hear them when sitting at the table, but not loud enough to disturb others.  I spend some time at the beginning of the school year establishing the routine so there's no question on what to do.

The other part of the warm up routine:  don't stop until the teacher says stop.  If the children finish what they're reading, they're expected to go back and re-read.

There are several materials I use for reading warm up.  Sometimes I use books we've read earlier in the year.  Sometimes I use mini-books we've used for word work in the past.  Sometimes I use word cards, word lists, or phrase cards.   Sometimes I let them choose an "old favorite" for warm up.  Whichever is used,  the rules are the same:  It should be well  below their instructional reading level, they should read "out soft", and they should keep reading until the teacher tells them to stop.  By the time the teacher's ready for the next step of reading instruction, those little brains are warmed up and ready to learn!

It just so happens,  I have a reading warm up freebie for you!  This uses the Pre-primer Dolch list, which is a great place to start.  They are arranged in phrases, which experts say is the best way to practice words.

These can be cut into individual phrase strips, or simply read as they are on the sheets.  Run off enough for your whole group, and they'll be ready for reading when they're done!

Click HERE for your freebie!  Have a great day Blog Hopping!
Sally Latest post: Turn the Music Up! — I'm a sucker for a linky party, and I found one for music, another one of my passions!Amanda over at Teaching Madness is having a music lin... Like · Comment · Share Elementary Matters page on Facebook Like Get this email app! Latest tweet: Turn the Music Up! Follow @ElemntryMatters Reply Retweet 23:14 Jun-26 Get this email app! Get a signature like this.CLICK HERE.


  1. Out soft- how cute. I always do a warm-up too!
    Great post-thanks for sharing!

  2. I love this idea of a reading warm up! Thanks for sharing it with us!! :)
    Learning Is Something to Treasure

  3. We talk about warming up our brains too, just like those soccer, baseball, football, etc. players. Thanks!
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

  4. Lori,

    Thanks for letting me guest post! I'm enjoying blog hopping today and picking up freebies along the way!

    Sally from Elementary Matters

  5. I'm going to have to try and use "out soft" from now on! Thank you for the freebie, Sally! :)

    Mrs. Lirette's Learning Detectives

  6. Thanks for sharing. We always do a warm up too & I am glad to have a new one to try out. Thanks for the freebie.

    Grade School Giggles

  7. This is great stuff! Thank you for sharing your ideas. We have nominated you for an award. Please visit to pick up your award. Stephanie

  8. I love the phrase "out soft." Great idea for using rereading as a warm-up.

    Thinking Out Loud

  9. Great ideas! I have nominated you for the Versatile Blogger award. Stop by sometime for more info!
    Stories by Storie

  10. Thank you everyone for welcoming Sally to my blog as my guest! I appreciate that you left her such nice comments!

  11. Stephanie and Storie, thank you both so much for the award! How nice!!


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