Chunky Monkey Strategy for Emergent Readers - Guided Readers
Chunky Monkey Strategy fan

Chunky Monkey Strategy for Emergent Readers

Which reading strategies should you introduce to your Emergent readers?  Of course, basic strategies like Eagle Eye and Lips the Fish will help new readers as they begin the process of learning to decode. But what about a strategy like Chunky Monkey? This one may be a little advanced for your Level A & B Emergent readers, but students who are reading at Level C or above are usually ready to learn this essential reading strategy. So let’s take a look at how you can teach the Chunky Monkey strategy to the Level C Emergent Readers in your classroom.

Searching for Chunks with the Chunky Monkey Strategy

Kids love monkeys–it’s just a fact! They’re funny and spontaneous, and they never fail to make us laugh. With such an amusing name, the Chunky Monkey strategy fan is cute and adorable, but don’t let that fool you: Chunky Monkey is a hard worker! He helps young readers identify recognizable “chunks” in the new words they encounter. The Chunky Monkey strategy can help your students grasp the concept that they can look for smaller words and easy chunks as they try to figure out the new and bigger words they’ll encounter.

Like Stretchy Snake, the Chunky Monkey strategy involves the Graphophonic, or Visual, cueing system. It reminds readers to search for familiar phonics patterns within a word to help them solve it. As they use their knowledge of letters, words and print conventions, your students can use Chunky Monkey to tackle multisyllabic words. This strategy will serve as a lifelong decoding tool for your students, so be sure to introduce him as soon as they’re ready!

You’ll want to have a cute, stuffed monkey on display when you introduce this in a whole class setting. Distribute strategy fans and have your students open them to Chunky Monkey.

Then explain, “Chunky Monkey likes to find little words or easy ‘chunks’ inside of words to help him figure out new words he doesn’t know. Let’s be like Chunky Monkey and look for some chunks in these words we don’t know!”

Don’t Know the Word? Chunk It!

Use a whiteboard or Smartboard to display new words and model how readers can pull out chunks or word parts that will help them solve words.

Begin with an easy word such as “hat.” Say, “Is there a short word or word chunk that we can see in this word? How about the word ‘at’? Yes! Now let’s sound out the whole word by adding the ‘h’ at the beginning. Here we go: ‘hhh…at.’ Hat. What about the word ‘chat’? What chunks do you see in that word? Great job boys & girls. Do you see how Chunky Monkey helps us read words by finding the smaller chunks that we already know?”

Next, say, “Let’s try another one: How about ‘sit’? What chunk do you recognize? That’s right–the sight word ‘It!’ Now let’s read the whole word: ‘sss…it.’ ‘Sit’.

“Good, but that was kind of an easy one. Now Chunky Monkey’s going to help us read a bigger word, so let’s remember to use the chunks we already know. Let’s try it.”

Write the word ‘sitting.’ Then ask, “What chunks do you see in that word? Yes! ‘sit,’ and how about at the end–what sounds do the letters ‘ing’ make? They make the sound, ‘ing.’ Now let’s put those two chunks together: ‘sit-ting.’ Sitting. Great job!”  

Teaching the Chunky Monkey Strategy in Guided Reading

To teach Chunky Monkey in a Guided Reading group, distribute strategy fans so  students can practice using the strategy while reading a text. Choose a book that includes plenty of vowel teams, digraphs, or other important phonetic sounds.

Let’s look at how you might teach this strategy using the Level C book, My School, from my new online guided reading program, Guided Readers

Have your students open their books to the first page and read the words: “This is my school.” Help them use the Chunky Monkey strategy to find the consonant blend, ‘th’ and sound out the word “this.” On the next page, stop and ask them to look at the first word of the sentence: “There’s.”

Ask, “What chunk do you see at the beginning of this word? That’s right, ‘th’ those two consonants blend together to make the sound, ‘th.’  Now let’s sound out the rest of the word. ‘’es.’ there’s. Good!”  

The Principal is No Match for Chunky Monkey!

“Now let’s read the words on the next page. Ohhh… I see a big one! Let’s read the sentence and see if Chunky Monkey can help us figure out the longer word that comes at the end! [“principal”]

Read the beginning of the sentence: ‘I see the…’ Then say, “OK boys & girls, look closely and tell me if there are some chunks you recognize in this word. How about the word ‘in’? Do you see the word ‘in’? Good!” 

Help students sound out the entire word “principal,” and then continue using the Chunky Monkey strategy to decode other new words, such as on page 7: 

Chunky Monkey Strategy on the Playground

Next, say “OK boys & girls, let’s look at the big word at the end of this sentence [“playground”] and see if we can solve it. What chunks do you see at the beginning? How about the letters ‘pl’? What sound do they make? Those two letters blend together to make the sound ‘pl,’ like in ‘apple’ or ‘people.’

“Now what’s the next chunk we can read? How about ‘ay’? When we blend the letters ‘ay,’ what sound do they make? That’s right! They make the long-a vowel sound ‘ay’! Do you see another chunk that might help us? How about ‘ou’? Yes! ‘ou’ as in ‘out.’ Now let’s use all those chunks to help us read the word. ‘pl…ay–gr…ou…nd.’ Playground. Good!

“Now let’s ask ourselves: Does it look right? Let’s look at all the letters as we say the word: ‘playground.’ That’s a really long word; but yes–it does look right, doesn’t it? Remember, we can use our Eagle Eyes to check the picture. Yep! That looks like a playground, doesn’t it? Chunky Monkey’s a great pal to have around when we need to solve a new word, isn’t he?” 

The book My School has several other words that are good for practicing this strategy, so your kiddos can break down the chunks in words like “janitor” and “teachers.” Give your students plenty of opportunities to practice this strategy and learn to love decoding.

Your students have some hard work ahead of them as they learn to read; but they’re up to the challenge. And you’re up to the challenge of teaching them! Even so, do you ever just feel overwhelmed at the size of the task? 

Meet Guided Readers…

If you’re exhausted and stressed out from trying to plan reading lessons that engage and excite your students, I want to share some good news. My new online guided reading program, Guided Readers, will save you time, increase your confidence and help you take your guided reading instruction to the next level! Guided Readers was created by teachers for teachers, and it contains everything you need to take your students from “learning to read” to “reading to learn!”  

I’ve heard from so many teachers who are LOVING the engaging texts, standards-based lesson plans & resources, and the easy-to-use digital interactive reader! Guided Readers takes the guesswork out of what to teach and how to teach it, by providing you with a streamlined, consistent framework for literacy instruction. 

All the texts in Guided Readers are professionally leveled by Fountas & Pinnell and, and your students will LOVE them! Best of all, YOU’LL love the way Guided Readers gives you everything you need to implement an effective Guided Reading program in your classroom! Phonics, comprehension, vocabulary, reading fluency and guided writing: it’s all there in this complete, done-for-you tool for teaching. You CAN do this! Get Guided Readers and rock your literacy instruction!

Keep on Chunking!

Also, if you found this post helpful, I hope you’ll head on over to my YouTube channel to see the videos I’ve posted about teaching this and other strategies.

I hope you’ll have fun teaching the Chunky Monkey strategy to the students in your classroom. He’s a funny little guy, but he’s so powerful and versatile!

Thanks for stopping by my blog. Happy chunking, and as always, happy teaching!



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