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Eagle Eye Reading Strategy: Using Picture Clues

Eagle Eye Reading Strategy

Let’s talk about Eagle Eye as a reading strategy. Using Beanie Babies to help students remember key strategies is a great guided reading tool. Eagle Eye is a key strategy for your new readers. It involves teaching children to utilize picture clues when they can not decode a word. Let’s get into it!


This is part of a 6 part series. If you haven’t already, make sure to check out Part 1: How to Teach One to One Correspondance 

What is the Eagle Eye Reading Strategy?

The Eagle Eye reading strategy is about using picture clues to figure out the unknown word. This reading strategy works really well with new and non-readers because their texts allow for it. They typically have only a few words per page, made up of mostly sight words, and follow a pattern. Each page typically has one “tricky” word on it. That is where using the pictures comes in.


Here’s an example of two pages from a book where Eagle Eye would help children figure out the word that doesn’t match the pattern.


On each page of this book, it says “Get the (insert ingredient).” Both words “get” and “the” are sight words, but they also follow a pattern. Guided reading texts for new readers often follow a similar layout.

With the understanding of the pattern, and the ability to use picture clues, they can read this book. The picture clues help them to figure out the tricky words, such as “tomato” and “pepper.”

Introducing Eagle Eye Reading Strategy

The reason I love using Beanie Babies to help teach reading strategies is because children find it easier to remember the characters than just the name of a strategy. And with remembering the characters, children can then make the connection to the reading strategy. It’s a win-win!

I refer to each Beanie Baby as our “Reading Buddies.” Whenever I introduce a new reading buddy I follow this routine:


  • Show students the actual Beanie Baby and introduce them by name.
  • Explain the reading strategy that this particular Beanie Baby wants us to remember.  In this case, it would sound like this:
    • “I want to introduce you to one of my reading buddies, his name is Eagle Eye. Eagle Eye helps us remember to look at the pictures when we get stuck on a tricky word. He tells us to use our eyes to look at the illustrations.”
  • Model using the strategy. I display an appropriately leveled text on our smartboard for this.
  • Give children an Eagle Eye reading strategy “watch” to wear. This gets them excited and wanting to use their new strategy.


  • Do a group activity that encourages children to try the new strategy.eagle-eye-reading-strategy-activities

Eagle Eye Reading Strategy Activities

So now let’s talk about the kinds of activities we can do to help support the Eagle Eye reading strategy. We want children to understand that illustrations are there for a reason. They help give meaning to the story. They can also help clarify words for us. Here are some examples of Eagle Eye reading strategy activities.

1. Picture Walks

Picture walks are when children flip through the book prior to reading and examine the illustrations. This is a helpful strategy for a few reasons. It helps to activate background knowledge. Children can become familiarized with the topic of the text prior to reading. It can also act as a way to engage and elicit excitement for the book.

2. Matching Pictures with Words

Any activities that have children practice matching pictures to words will help solidify the importance of picture clues.


3. Practice Sentences

Have children practice sentences where one word can be figured out by looking at a picture. This is a great warm-up activity idea for guided reading groups.



Providing visuals is a helpful tool for children. I like to hang up posters, provide desk plates, bookmarks, and more, to help children easily access our reading strategies.


Teaching Children to Use the Reading Strategy

When it comes time to start working on this strategy with your students, there are a few things you can do to guide them.

  • Teach children to recognize the pattern in the text
  • Take picture walks
  • Encourage them to track words on the page
  • Model getting stuck on the word that doesn’t match the pattern and using the illustrations to figure it out
  • Practice looking at words next to pictures

I typically follow the above at the start of our guided reading lessons. This provides an opportunity to remind children of important strategies, but it also gives me a chance to work closely with individual children.

Providing Incentive to Students

Okay, so your children know what Eagle Eye represents, they understand how to apply it, but how do we get them to actually do it during independent activities?

Throughout the years I’ve come up with incentives and ways to encourage our children to do just that. Here are a few of the resources I use:

2. Buddy Badges: When I catch students using their reading strategy, I give them a Buddy Badge. Buddy Badges go on a chain and they say “I was caught using Eagle Eye”. Children can wear these Buddy Badges during reading groups and reading time. Throughout the rest of the day, they have a place to hang them in our room.


3. Self-Checking Charts: Another way to incentivize students is by providing self-checking charts. These charts are to be completed and filled in by the students themselves. Whenever they catch themselves using a strategy, they color the reading buddy in.


What’s Next?

While working with children in small groups, make sure to collect data so you understand which children need more support, and which are ready to move forward.

It is imperative that you find a system to help you monitor and track reading and comprehension progress. This will help you determine the next steps and plan the appropriate reading lessons to help them grow.

Taking notes during one-on-one reading conferences doesn’t have to be difficult. It can be a matter of jotting down keywords or phrases.

For me, these are the main things I want to collect data on:

  • The date, name, and level of the text they are reading at the time of the conference
  • The strategies they are using independently (with or without success in deciphering the word).
  • Specific decoding observations. Example: “Attempts to sound out words but struggling with blending the sounds.”
  • Specific comprehension observations. Example: “Answers recall questions easily”
  • Goals and next steps. Determine what you want to work on with this specific child in order to push them to the next reading level.

Here’s an example of the I use to track this information.




If you’re interested in learning more about these reading strategies, grab the free guide now!


Interested in having the resources and activities shown in this post, grab the Eagle Eye unit here!


Up Next: Lips the Fish. Click here to read the next post.


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Hi, I’m Michelle! I’m a teacher, mommy, and curriculum designer from Long Island, NY. I’ve taught both general and special education, with a focus on grades pre-k through first. My passion is hands-on learning, and finding ways to make all things engaging and fun!

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