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Improve Student Reading with DIY Reading Guides

Here’s a DIY hack to improve students’ reading by using a simple, easy-to-make reading guide to assist students with their tracking! You can easily make a simple “tool” to improve students’ visual tracking during reading. And best of all – it’s so easy!

My students use these nearly every single day at school. It’s one of those great tips – quick, easy, and cheap!

images shows the supplies needed to make reading guides for better student tracking while reading

Many students struggle with tracking issues – which is their ability to process what they see from left to right as they read. Our eyes naturally look all over instinctively. They say it helped our ancestors stay safe. However, our reading suffers when our eyes move all over a page as we try to focus.

Some students have erratic movement, and these guides help them focus on smaller reading areas at a time.

We teach our students to track from left to right as they read, but some students continue to struggle. Using a finger is an easy way to help visual tracking – it doesn’t require any tools! If that doesn’t do the trick, there are other tools to try.

I’m sure you’ve seen the EZ Reader highlighting strips that sell at Amazon (and many other places). I bought and used these in my classroom a couple of years ago. They are called Reading Guide Highlight Strips and sell at Amazon in a pack of 12 for about $10.00.

DIY reading guide hack for students
Helpful but expensive reading guides

That’s when I decided that I wouldn’t spend my money on any more of these. It’s OK, except they really did help my students read more fluently and not lose their place on a page.

Well, they are a great product . . . for the first couple of weeks. Then they began disappearing (but no one took them – you know how that goes – no one ever admits to taking anything), and they got bent up and wrinkled, and the highlighted plastic comes out, etc. My students literally beat them up.

Here’s where my consumer savviness (really, that just means I’m a tightwad!) comes into play.

First, get a few pages of transparency film – I used the kind you can run through a copier.

DIY Hack for reading guide strips
Use old fashioned transparency film

Next, I cut it into four equal-sized pieces, but you can use the sizes that work best for your students.
The third and final step is to make a straight line on the transparency film for students to use as a guide when reading.

straight line is drawn on transparent films to make simple reading guides for students

Sometimes I turn the transparency film long-ways (landscape orientation) and draw the lines on that way. That seems to work out better for some books that have wide pages.

image shows a reading guide placed on a reading assignment
Here’s a reading guide placed over a Read Naturally passage

simple reading guides are easy for teachers to make

And there you have it – Short, simple, and sweet! And economical!!

I’d love to know what quick tricks you use to assist students with their reading – please leave a comment below!

Take care, and please stop back again!