Do you have students who could use a boost in their reading comprehension?

If so, then anticipation guides are your answer!

An anticipation guide is a type of graphic organizer used as a pre-reading, during reading, and post-reading activity to assess students’ knowledge about a subject. By design, anticipation guides peak students’ interest in a topic in a highly-engaging way.

This post is going to show you exactly how I use anticipation guides to increase students’ reading comprehension.

Plus you’ll get to see some anticipation guide examples from different elementary content areas.

So let’s dig into it!

How To Get Started Using Anticipation Guides

Step 1:

Your use of an anticipation guide starts with your teaching objective and/or book choice.

What is your topic and what book about that topic will you be reading to your kiddos?

Step 2:

Secondly, think about how much your students already know about the topic.

If they have a ton of prior knowledge about the subject or if they’ve already read the book, an anticipation guide may not be the best pre-reading strategy.

Or maybe they have a good grasp of the subject or have read the book, but you want to challenge them a bit and have them go deeper.

Then yes, an anticipation guide will work well.

Step 3:

Once you’ve figured that out, think of ten (10) statements (some true and some false) about said topic.

You don’t need exactly 5 and 5 of each; just make sure there’s a mixture. 

The statements should be based on relevant key concepts or actions from the text.

NOTE: I prefer to change the number combination for each anticipation guide I give to students so that they don’t assume there’ will always be 5 true statements and 5 false statements.

Step 4:

Now type your statements into a word processing document, and organize the information as seen in the forces and motion science anticipation guide example below.

Mix your statements so that there’s no obvious pattern of true/false.

forces and motion anticipation guide

Using Anticipation Guides as a Pre-Reading Strategy~How It’s Done

With your document complete, now it’s time to distribute a copy to each student.

After carefully reviewing the instructions with the class (if this is the first time they’ve done an anticipation guide), read the statements to them, with them, or have them read individually.

If reading together, discuss with students why they agree or disagree with each statement. Don’t give away too much information about the topic and/or book. Remember, you’re trying to informally assess what students already know! 😉

In the “BEFORE” column, they’ll mark T for true or F for false for each statement. Their decisions depend on their individual prior knowledge.

You may have to model a few times how this is done.

Make sure to give students time to answer.

This step is so important because it sets the tone and purpose for reading.

NOTE: Some students will be curious to see how their peers are answering the statements, so make a point to reinforce the idea that IT’S OKAY to just guess based on their own schema. Learners will not be penalized for “wrong” answers.

This light anxiety (or curiosity) of wondering if they’re right or wrong is exactly what makes anticipation guides so engaging and perfect for reading comprehension! Once you begin reading the book, learners will be anxiously waiting to see if they were in fact correct in their assumptions.

Quick Tip: Have students use a permanent marker to answer the “BEFORE” column.

Some students are afraid to be wrong.

So they’ll go back and change the “BEFORE” column during the “AFTER” part so that it appears they were correct all along (Ha Ha!)

Anticipation Guides~During Reading

After completing the “BEFORE” section, it’s now time for students to read.

This is the juicy part of anticipation guides because students get to discover which statements are actually true or false!

They love it!

As they find out the facts from the book, they mark each statement in the “AFTER” column with T for true or F for false.

This important step of checking for understanding by confirming or rejecting previous choices is very powerful.

I make a rule that they cannot change any of their answers from the “BEFORE” column.

Their new choices must only be placed in the “AFTER” column.


I want them to see (and I want to observe also) how their schema changed based on the new information learned.

It’s great for them to understand that learning growth is a good thing!

Anticipation Guides Post-Reading~Extending the Lesson

By now, your readers are probably chatting with peers (and you!), comparing their “BEFORE” and “AFTER” statements, excitedly seeing which ones they had correct.

At his point, their knowledge of the topic has increased and subsequently so has their understanding of the text.

You’ll even find that a significant number of your kiddos are interested in learning more about the topic! Yeah!

Now it’s time to stretch their thinking and understanding a bit by extending the activity.  For every statement that is false, have students rewrite each, making it true.

Let’s take a look once again at the forces and motions science anticipation guide example shown earlier.

Number 6 states “Gravity is a force that pushes things upwards”.

This is a false statement.

Using the text and/or background knowledge, students will rewrite this sentence to make it true: “Gravity is a force that pushes things downward”.

Below is a rocks and minerals science anticipation guide example.

Number 3 says, “Chalk is hard enough to cut steel”.

rocks and minerals anticipation guide

To make this true, students can do a variation of either of the following:

“Diamonds are hard enough to cut steel”.


“Chalk is a soft rock that crumbles easily and not used for cutting other rocks.”

These two sentences are based on information from the book or students’ background knowledge.

Of course there may be some variation in the answer choices given by students.

Observing how your readers answered the “BEFORE” and “AFTER” columns in addition to how they rewrote the false sentences will be very valuable.  That information provides great informal assessment data that you can use as you plan future lessons!

As you can see below, I provide a template for learners to record their rewritten sentences.

what is an anticipation guide

Can I Use an Anticipation Guide in a Small Group or One-on-One?


Anticipation guides are excellent for improving kids’ reading comprehension, regardless of whether they work individually with a teacher/parent, in small groups, or with a whole class.

How Can I Differentiate Anticipation Guides to Meet the Needs of Struggling Readers or ESL Learners?

Though anticipation guides are wonderful for increasing reading comprehension, like any reading strategy or activity, some of your learners will need additional support to make the content more accessible.

In general, how you differentiate for struggling readers and second language learners will depend on their individual needs.

However, here are some good strategies you can implement ASAP:

  • For both struggling readers and English language learners, work with them one-on-one or in small groups.
  • Additionally, during the “BEFORE” section of the anticipation guide activity, review each sentence to be sure that students understand key vocabulary within each statement.
  • If possible, for ESL students with low proficiency in English vocabulary, translate any key concepts or words.
  • If you have a teaching assistant, have him or her work with a small group or one-on-one with learners. For those kids with decoding or fluency issues, she/he can read aloud parts of the anticipation guide graphic organizer and book.
  • Have any students who need more time to process information? Then circle only the odd or even numbers of the anticipation guide and have then only respond to those. (But I bet they’ll want to do them all! Anticipation guides really bring out student engagement!)
  • Before students read the text to discover if they were correct in their “BEFORE” statements, pair weaker readers with stronger readers.

NOTE: Be careful with this one. Make sure the reading level range of the partners isn’t too great.

Many times, high readers get very frustrated with very low readers, and low readers can become more insecure reading with a very high reader.

In my experience, “strong”/”weak” pairings that are closer in range tend to have the greatest success!

Can I Use Anticipation Guides for Any Book or Teaching Subject?

Yes you can.  

Anticipation guides do work best, however, when you want students to absorb lots of information about a topic. Examples include understanding the key ideas of a nonfiction text such as science or social studies.

And don’t limit yourself to just books.

Reader’s theater scripts are great options as are textbooks.

Think math, science, and social studies readers’ theater scripts and textbooks.

The use of a simple, yet powerful, anticipation guide as a pre-reading exercise for a reader’s theater script or textbook concept will engage students a lot more and have them understand the teaching concepts much better!

Another good way to use anticipation guides is with videos!

Before watching a BrainPop video or any type of video where you want students to really absorb a significant amount of information, use an anticipation guide.

These strategies really do work wonders!

Anticipation Guide Examples

Below, I’ve got a few anticipation guide examples from different content areas.

Check ‘em out!

U.S Branches of Government Anticipation Guide Example

(Social Studies)

anticipation guide branches of government

Quadrilaterals Anticipation Guide Example


anticipation guide quadrilaterals

James & the Giant Peach Chapter 1 Anticipation Guide Example

(Language Arts)

james and the giant peach anticipation guide

So There You Have It!~Anticipation Guides 101  

Skyrocket your students’ reading comprehension using the power of anticipation guides.

I’m confident your students will greatly benefit.

Happy Teaching and Learning!



  • For more activities that boost reading comprehension, check out the Rivet and Prove It reading strategies!