Mid-Year Dose of Daily 5

Hopefully this post will not be earth-shattering news to you.  Hopefully you are already using the Daily 5 in your classroom.  But if you aren't, mid-year is a perfect time to implement some changes in your classroom.  By this point, your students are comfortable in routines and are able to be very independent.

*** WARNING - Long Post Ahead ***

I've been wanting to post in-depth about my love for Daily 5 for a while now (like, since last summer!)… but, well, I'm just now getting to it.  Better late than never right?!

I have been using the Daily 5 in my classroom for the past six years.  I used it when I taught 3rd grade, 4th grade, and currently use it in my 1st grade classroom (and have for the past four years).  If you haven't already read the book - go out and BUY IT NOW!  I'm telling you, you won't regret it.  The Daily 5 changed my reading block completely!

In the past six years, I've read and re-read the book.  I've subscribed to The Daily CAFE.  And I've even been able to attend a conference with the amazing sisters.  I might just be a "sisters" groupie!

In that time, I've been able to refine exactly how the Daily 5 runs in my classroom.  And let me tell you, it is smooth sailing.  The great part about Daily 5 is that there is flexibility in the way you implement it.  I've found that there are some parts, though, that I will never stray from.  

The first, and most important part to me about the Daily 5, is that the students make their own choices.  I know that some teachers prefer to assign students a Daily 5 choice, but I think that completely defeats the purpose.  I know that it can be hard let go of control of your students, and that it can be time-consuming for them to make their own choices.  I strongly encourage you to LET GO!  Given time and proper training, your students CAN manage themselves.

I find that my students are often so engaged because they choose what activity they would like to do, and with whom they'd like to do it.  If you take your time and really show the students what your expectations are during this time, management will not be an issue.  I rarely have student problems during Daily 5.  The kids are too busy working independently AND having fun!

The only choice requirement I make with my students, is that they cannot make the same choice twice in one day.  For example, they can't choose Listen to Reading for three out of the four rounds.  They can only choose it once a day.

My students make their choices during the morning when they arrive at school.  Along with unpacking book bags, making a lunch choice, and completing morning work, they make their Daily 5 choices.  I use my Smart board for this, but it could easily be done with a pocket chart as well.  

It's nice to have the choices made early in the morning.  That way, when it's reading time, we are all set to get started right away!  We meet on the carpet at the beginning of each round, and then I send each group on their way.

Here is what my Daily 5 choice board looks like:

This choice board definitely takes time to initially set up.  I have each student's name in four different colors, representing the four rounds.  So, obviously there are a lot more names on my actual choice board.  This is just a bare example.  

(If time allowed me to squeeze in five rounds I would, but you can't always control your schedule!).  

You will notice that certain choices also have numbers.  This helps me to limit the amount of students that can make that choice during that round.  That way, I don't have the entire class Reading to Someone (I only have three pairs at a time), or trying to Listen to Reading when I have limited space and resources for some choices.  

I meet with four reading groups each day.  So if a student meets with me during the first (red) round, their name would permanently be on "Meet with the Teacher" in red.  Then they would have three rounds of their own choice.  Some students attend the Reading Room for extra reading help during this time, so their names stay in those boxes during the appropriate time.

It usually takes me about three weeks to introduce the Daily 5 routines.  It used to take me longer, but over the years I have learned how to consolidate and multi-task a little!  Every year is different, depending on the class and their ability.  I NEVER rush implementing Daily 5 in the beginning of the year.  It is so important to lay out specific expectations of how each activity should look and sound.  And of course, we practice practice practice!

Read to Self
I always start by introducing Read to Self first.  We work on building our stamina for independent reading.  I aim for about 20 minutes with my first graders.  Some groups can build this stamina quickly, and others take a little longer to be able to sustain true independent reading for 20 minutes!

Listen to Reading

Next, I introduce Listen to Reading.  Read to Self can be a struggle for some students, so Listen to Reading is a great next-step to really engage them!  I am lucky enough to have ten iPads in my classroom.  We use five of them for Listen to Reading.  Prior to the iPads, I used my classroom computers.  I teach my students how to access and log-in to TumbleBooks, which is a great online resource for books.  I've also used Storyline Online, which is FREE!

Word Work
Next, I introduce Word Work.  I have many Word Work activities, but I only introduce one at a time.  I routinely switch out activities so students don't get bored.  You can find many of my word work activities in my Word Work Activities pack on TPT!

My Word Work activities usually focus on the Dolch Sight Words.  You could also use spelling words and/or seasonal words during Word Work.

Rainbow Words

Magna Doodle (on this particular day we were using holiday words prior to Christmas)

Read the Room - VERY popular this year!

QR Codes are HOT right now in my classroom!  I created a Christmas QR Code - Read the Room activity, and I'm working on other holiday/seasonal QR codes as well.  (Be sure to follow my Teachers Pay Teachers store so you are notified when I post more QR code products!)

Storage and accessibility are important for Word Work activities.  There are a TON of ideas for storage if you search Word Work Storage on Pinterest.  Here is what I have found to work well in my classroom:

Work on Writing

Work on Writing is the easiest Daily 5 activity for me to introduce.  By the time I get to introducing this choice, my Writing Workshop is already up and running.  I simply carry over what we've learned in Writing Workshop to my Work on Writing in Daily 5!

Read to Someone

Read to Someone is the fifth and final choice.  I leave this choice for last because it is the most difficult to manage in the beginning.  If you don't set the expectations for this choice, it could be a complete disaster!  We practice Read to Someone A LOT!  We also practice how to invite one another to read and how to treat our partner during this time.  It is one of my students' favorite choices, and I have seen many friendships develop through Read to Someone!

Why Daily 5 Works for Me
Daily 5 allows me the time to work with small groups and really focus on teaching my little ones HOW to read.  There are many independent activities that students could do while I pull small groups, but to me the Daily 5 activities are the most authentic literacy activities there are.  Once established, I don't have to spend oodles of time finding activities for my kids to work on.  I can focus my planning on my small groups, knowing that my other students will be enriching their literacy habits on their own.

Plus, it's JUST PLAIN FUN!!!  I have yet to meet a kiddo that doesn't like Daily 5.  And I have yet to meet a teacher who's tried it that doesn't like it either!

I hope if you aren't currently using the Daily 5, you will consider giving it a try this year.  I know you won't regret it.  If you are already a Daily 5 convert like me, I hope I've given you some new ideas for your own classroom.

Do you Daily 5?!  I'd love to hear your ideas, too!


  1. I love your post but I am wondering HOW do you fit in all the content that is under the ELA umbrella AND get in 4 groups: genres(poetry, non fiction, expository (blah-blah), grammar, parts of speech, writing, I know I am missing TONS of topics. I can only get in 1 group-when I tried to do more I did not get to our 30 min. Writers Workshop and barely got to S.Studies which follows...
    I would LOVE to do more.... I just don't know where I am going wrong...

    Kickin It Whole Brain In Texas

    1. Hi Chelsea!
      We are lucky enough to be able to make our own schedules within our classrooms. I have a 40 minute whole-group reading block where I teaching reading/phonics/grammar. Then we have a 40 minute writing workshop. After lunch I have 65 minutes for Daily 5 and my guided reading groups. I don't do mini-lessons between rounds like the sisters suggest because I just don't have time. So that time is solely reserved for groups, while the rest of my kiddos are working on a Daily 5 choice.
      I definitely feel like I'm never doing enough… I need about two more hours in the day to really do each subject justice!!!
      Colleen :-)

  2. I really like Tumble Books too. We've used them to learn Spanish. We don't do daily 5, but I do have the kids do lots of independent literacy activities. They read to each other, write letters to story book characters and cut out letters from magazines to make words. Here's a link to our other reading/writing activities.



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