Close Reading: A Chart Collection

Chart paper is expensive... or so I've been told by the secretary who controls everything that comes in and out of the building... and it's a hot commodity to say the least.  You probably know a teacher at your school who hoards pads of chart paper before the children even arrive in the fall. She's probably the same person who keeps stashing all the new chart markers in her room, too.

Maybe that person is you.  No judgment here.  :)

And so I've learned to keep my anchor charts a little open-ended when possible because you never know when you might walk into the supply closet and "Oh, what a shock," there's no more chart paper because you-know-who has it all in her room and the secretary won't order any more until January.

And it's only October.

• When possible, try to make your anchor charts work for multiple genres, for example both fiction and nonfiction.  The sample charts in this post are focused on close reading which is a reading behavior I want children to do well no matter which genre they're reading.  Throughout the unit, I may need a few extra charts that are more specific to how that's done in a particular genre, like fiction, but if I can design charts that serve more than one purpose, I feel victorious.

• Use removable pieces on your anchor charts, such as Post-It notes.  This allows you to change and add new ideas from year to year or to add pieces slowly as you're building knowledge during your unit.  Post-It notes come in so many shapes, sizes, and colors... they're a fun way to revise your charts and/or make them more interactive.  (Of course, Post-It notes are sometimes expensive too, so your secretary may have a thing or two to say about it... which leads me to Tip 3.)

• If you haven't discovered Elmer's Repositionable Glue Stick yet, go find one.  It's amazing! It's a giant stick of not-so-sticky glue that's designed to be removable. What does that mean?  It means you can make a sticky note out of any paper you have! My favorite thing to do is to use colored copy paper (which there is plenty of in our supply closet... go figure) and make my own colorful sticky notes in any size and shape I need for my charts.

Here are some anchor charts I used when introducing the concept of close reading to my first graders.  These first three teach the children what it means to read closely without being specific about how that's done in fiction vs. nonfiction texts. This way, I can continue to use these charts throughout more than one unit.

• This first one just defines what close reading is.  Using the sticky notes means I can slowly add the pieces to the chart as I teach the concepts... the kids can watch me build (or help me build) the chart over consecutive lessons.  I could also add more notes to the pink and yellow sections of this chart as my students grow and develop an understanding.

• I've seen charts similar to this one on Pinterest, but I changed the last part to show an excavator.  The image of the big machine really helps young children understand the idea of digging even deeper, with more power (brain power) and heavy-duty thinking tools.  Steam is coming out because it's working so hard.  :)

• I made this next anchor chart just before I knew we'd be doing some work in a fiction unit studying character traits and feelings.  It was time to talk about text evidence, so they needed some tools under their belt to get ready to support their ideas.

{A Frog Thing by Eric Drachman}

This isn't realistic fiction, but I always use this book when studying characters because Frankie's character is perfect for little ones starting out in this work.  He's playful (which they like) and he's multi-dimensional (which I like) so there are plenty of opportunities to talk about traits and feelings.  

We worked on these next two charts together and they served as anchors for the rest of the unit, guiding children through future work.

First, we worked on a character map of Frankie, listing character traits and feelings... important things we knew about him on the inside, not physical descriptors like green, animal, or small.  One of my goals while collaborating on character maps is to develop my students' vocabulary.  The words written with a smaller Sharpie marker are my contributions:  frustrated, disappointed, determined, imaginative.  Then, we spent some time grouping similar words together.  They may or may not be actual synonyms, but it gives the children an idea that they are closely related in meaning.

We worked on reading closely and finding text evidence to support our ideas. At the time, we were also working on noticing how a character changes across the whole story.  This chart shows how we used the words from the character map to show how Frankie changed from the beginning to the end.  

• The black part tells something about Frankie.
• The red part is evidence from the text to support the statement.
• And the green part is a bit of elaboration.  

How do I get the students started on deeper thinking?

• After the black part I ask, "How do you know?"
• After the red part I ask, "What do you mean?"

The yellow sticky notes on the bottom of the chart were literally pulled right from the character map we had done earlier.

These are just a few of my odds and ends, but you can find many examples of anchor charts on Pinterest.  If you need more ideas, just do a search.  You're likely to find something you can use right away or the inspiration you need to make something unique for your children's needs.

Happy teaching!  :)


  1. First, I love A Frog Thing. Second, these anchor charts are so thoughtful and helpful. I wish I had handwriting like you! Actually, I wish I was you!!! Reading this blog makes me want to be a better teacher. Thank you again, Andrea Knight!

    1. You're as good as they come, my friend... and you know you're my favorite frog!! :)

  2. I just ordered, A Frog Thing! I am excited to use this book in class this year. Your anchor charts are awesome. Thanks for sharing. I teach in Winston-Salem. I am a new blogger so if you get a chance check it out


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