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September 10, 2012 Literacy Prompt Cards: Deepening Student Conversations From Day One By Julie Ballew
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

    Like many teachers, I am always looking for ways to help students have meaningful conversations about books. As early as kindergarten, we want kids to have discussions that go beyond listing characters or basic facts from the books they are reading. In many classrooms at my school, we’ve had great success in deepening understanding and sparking thought-provoking exchanges with literacy prompt cards.

    Literacy Prompt Cards


    What Are Literacy Prompt Cards?

    A kindergarten teacher at my school came up with the idea, and I worked with the upper grades to bring them into the classroom. We thought about the conversations we wished were happening, then we made cards to prompt those exact conversations. The kindergarten teachers asked for icons so that students can learn what the prompts are even if they can’t read the words, and those icons stay consistent so that students don’t have to relearn the cards each year. These cards give students a variety of options for discussing the books that they have read with a partner.


    Click on your grade level to download the appropriate cards.

    Sample literacy prompt card



    1st Grade


    2nd Grade


    3rd5th Grade



    Using Literacy Prompt Cards

    To make best use of the prompt cards, follow the steps below:

    • Print the cards on cardstock, and punch a hole in the corner of each card. Place the cards on a metal binder ring. (A pipe cleaner works just as well if you don’t have any binder rings!)
    • Use the prompts from the cards when you discuss books as a class so that your students will know how to use them. Introduce one or two cards a day until you’ve modeled how to talk in response to each one.
    • Put several sets of the cards in your classroom library or another spot that is accessible to your students. Encourage them to use the cards during independent and partner reading.
    • When your students are just beginning to use the cards, move around the room and listen to the conversations. Remind them of good listening behaviors, and reinforce the meaningful discussions with praise. This step takes some time, but it will save you a lot of management headaches later!
    • Refer to the prompts on the cards as often as you can. If you are using the prompts to talk about books, your students will, too!

    Students using literacy prompt cards

    Additional Tips

    Feel free to adapt the cards to your needs. You might also:

    • Decide to start with only a few of the cards on a ring and add to them later.
    • Run the nonfiction cards on cardstock of one color and the fiction cards on another color.

    What are some ways you are helping students have meaningful conversations about books? Comment below!


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