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The Secret to Mentor Texts in First Grade

Have you every wondered what the secret is to using mentor texts in an Elementary classroom?

As teachers, it almost feels impossible to “fit it all in”… okay, let's be real, it IS impossible to fit it all in! 

But I have found the secret to planning faster and fitting “more” into my instructional time by being VERY intentional with my mentor texts. 

And so can you! 

Today I'm sharing with you my top four tips for using to mentor texts to help save your teacher sanity!

Tip #1 Frontload your mentor texts

My first tip for using mentor texts in an Elementary classroom comes in the form of mini lessons. Mini lessons should be just that.. “MINI”. You often do have enough time in your daily reading block to read an entire mentor text AND teach a lesson AND have students complete independent practice.

Not to mention, your students don’t have the attention span for that.

Instead, try frontloading your school year with your favorite and best mentor texts.

Then, throughout the year, you simply have to reference those books by saying “remember when we read ____, today we are going to take a closer look at how the author (insert specific skills here).

Tip #2 Use the same mentor texts for reading and writing

Sometimes the teacher gods bless you with reading and writing units that align perfectly and you can use the same mentor texts for reading and writing.

Again.. this will save you so much instructional and planning time!

It is so easy and it sounds something like this during a reading mini lesson… “Today we are going to look at how the author (insert skill here, ex: creates a problem and we are going to identify the different steps the character takes to solve the problem)”.

And like this during a writing mini lesson… “Remember when we looked at how the author created a problem and the solution did (1,2,3) to solve the problem? Today in your writing you are going to create a character and write a story with a problem and solution”.

Tip #3 Go cross curricular with science/social studies mentor texts

As the school year progresses, I start going cross-curricular with my read alouds using great books about social studies and science during my mini-lessons.

This is especially easy during non-fiction or research units, but it can be done during fiction units as well.


Because who has time for social studies and science? It’s often the last thing you schedule for the day and it is ALWAYS the first to go when you run out of town.

At least when I go cross-curricular with my read alouds, I don’t feel so guilty when I have to sacrifice my social studies/science time at the end of the day.

And, if I’m being honest, kids LOVE books about animals and people and places so it naturally peaks their interest.

P.S. If you REALLY want to make things easier on yourself, put social studies and science writing activities in your daily writing station that relate to your read alouds! It’s the perfect way to fit in social studies and science activities into an activity that is already part of your day!

For easy, independent activities check out my no prep Social Studies and Science units!

Tip #4 Favorite book? Try a book study

We all have those books that we just absolutely love and can be used for just about every skill. This makes the perfect book for a book study!

What is a book study?

A book study is when I use the same mentor text ALL week long and focus on a different skill every day.

This is also a great way to save time during your day because you only have to read the book aloud on Monday, and the rest of the week you are simply referencing back to it and reading one or two pages to practice a certain skill.

I love a good book study because it allows you to really dive deep into those comprehension skills because students are very familiar with the text.

Here are some of my favorite book studies:

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Kristen Sullins

Kristen Sullins

I am a current Elementary Librarian and
Enrichment Teacher, mother of two, follower of Christ and Texas native. In my own classroom, I love to save time by finding unique ways to integrate writing, social studies and science into all parts of my day. I also love all things organization!