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Tryin’ Lion and Skippy Frog Reading Strategies

Tryin’ Lion and Skippy Frog Reading Strategy

Let’s talk about the Tryin’ Lion and Skippy Frog reading strategies. I like to talk about these two strategies together because they go hand-in-hand. Keep reading to find out what I mean.


What is the Tryin’ Lion and Skippy Frog Reading Strategy?

Tryin’ Lion and Skippy Frog reading strategies are for children who have mastered the other Beanie Baby strategies. Sometimes children can try every strategy and still struggle to figure out the word. That is where Tryin’ Lion and Skippy Frog come in. 

Tryin’ Lion tells us to try a word. Ask yourself, “does this make sense?”

Skippy Frog tells us to say the first sound and then skip over the word. Hop back and read the sentence again.

Introducing the Chunky Monkey Reading Strategy



The reason for 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.
  • Model using the strategy. I display an appropriately leveled text on our smartboard for this.
  • Give children a reading buddy  “watch” to wear. This gets them excited and wanting to use their new strategy. You can see a picture of my son rocking the Eagle Eye watch below!


  • Do a group activity that encourages children to try the new strategy.

Chunky Monkey Reading Strategy Activities

So now let’s talk about the kinds of activities we can do to help support the Tryin’ Lion and Skippy Frog reading strategies.  Here are some examples.


1. Using Context Clues to Complete the Sentence

Part of being able to “try a word that makes sense” is understanding context clues. With this activity, children read the sentence and then use the picture card that makes the most sense to complete it.


2. Fill in the Blank Activities

I love these sentence strips with one missing word. There is no one answer, so it allows children to think and be creative. The goal is to make sure that whatever word they write in the blank, makes sense within the sentence.


3. Hop the Word

This is a fun activity that gets kids up and moving while also working their brains! I place the lilly pads on the floor in a line to make a sentence. One word is covered by a frog. Children have to hop next to each word as they read it. When they get to the frog, they have to jump OVER it. Once they get to the end of the word they must go back and try to figure out the covered up word.



Tryin’ Lion and Skippy Frog Visuals

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 this Reading Strategy

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

  • Remind them to try all of their other strategies first
  • Model getting stuck on the word and exhausting all other reading strategies
  • Model trying a word and asking “does this make sense?”
  • Use Skippy Frog to check your guess by reading to the end of the sentence and then going back to check your guess
  • Do activities that help reinforce this new reading strategy

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 about Tryin’ Lion and Skippy Frog, 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 Tryin’ Lion”. 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 Tryin’ Lion and Skippy Frog unit here!



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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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