Anticipation Guide

An anticipation guide is a comprehension strategy that is used before reading to activate students' prior knowledge and build curiosity about a new topic. Before reading, students listen to or read several statements about key concepts presented in the text; they're often structured as a series of statements with which the students can choose to agree or disagree. Anticipation guides stimulate students' interest in a topic and set a purpose for reading.

When to use: Before reading During reading After reading
How to use: Individually With small groups Whole class setting

More comprehension strategies

Why use anticipation guides?

  • Anticipation guides stimulate students' interest in a topic and set a purpose for reading.
  • They teach students to make predictions, anticipate the text, and verify their predictions.
  • They connect new information to prior knowledge and build curiosity about a new topic.


How to use an anticipation guide

  1. Construct the anticipation guide. Construction of the anticipation guide should be as simple as possible for younger students. Write four to six statements about key ideas in the text; some true and some false. Include columns following each statement, which can be left blank or can be labeled Yes, or No (Maybe can also be used).
    NOTE: Teachers may wish to create an additional column for revisiting the guide after the material has been read.
  2. Model the process. Introduce the text or reading material and share the guide with the students. Model the process of responding to the statements and marking the columns.
  3. Read each of the statements and ask the students if they agree or disagree with it. Provide the opportunity for discussion. The emphasis is not on right answers but to share what they know and to make predictions.
  4. Read the text aloud or have students read the selection individually. If reading aloud, teachers should read slowly and stop at places in the text that correspond to each of the statements.
  5. Bring closure to the reading by revisiting each of the statements.
Anticipation Guide Template

Download blank templates

Watch: Anticipation Guide (Grade 2)

Go inside Cathy Doyle's second grade classroom in Evanston, Illinois to observe how Cathy uses the anticipation guide strategy to pique her students' interest in the book they are about to read together, Jin Woo by Eve Bunting. Cathy asks questions designed to activate the kids' prior knowledge and to encourage them to make predictions about what they think will happen in the story.

Watch: Auditory GO Chart (Pre-K and K)

Use a picture walk to encourage students to make predictions, learn new vocabulary and review what they have learned after completing the book. See the lesson plan.

This video is published with permission from the Balanced Literacy Diet. See many more related how-to videos with lesson plans in the Reading Comprehension Strategies section.

Collect resources

Language Arts

Learn how anticipation guides can be used for children's books such as Miss Rumphius. See example >


Use anticipation guides to help students understand about fungi. See example >

Use anticipation guides to help students understand about dinosaurs. See example >

Social Studies

Use anticipation guides to help students organize their reading about topics such as the Panama Canal. See example >

Differentiated instruction

For second language learners, students of varying reading skill, students with learning disabilities, and younger learners

  • Anticipation guides can be completed orally.
  • The number of statements can be modified to suit learner's needs.
  • Teachers may assign different reading passages about the same topic based upon reading skills.
  • Color code columns so that the child can clearly tell the difference between the "before" and "after" column.
  • Use simple sentences so that the student focuses on the content, rather than understanding the sentence. Example: "Ringworm and athlete's foot are caused by fungi" to "Fungi causes ringworm and athlete's foot."

See the research that supports this strategy

Duffelmeyer, F. (1994). Effective Anticipation Guide statements for learning from expository prose. Journal of Reading, 37, 452-455.

National Institute for Literacy. (2001). Put Reading First: The Research Building Blocks for Teaching Children to Read Kindergarten Through Grade 3. Jessup, MD: ED Pubs.

Head, M. H., and Readence, J. E. (1992). Anticipation guides: Using prediction to promote learning from text. In E.K. Dishner, T. W. Bean, J. E. Readence and D. W. Moore (Eds), Reading in the content areas: Improving classroom instruction (3rd ed., pp. 227-233). Dubugue: Kendall/Hunt.

Wood, K. D., D. Lapp, J. Flood, and D. B. Taylor. 2008. Guiding Readers Through Text: Strategy Guides for New Times. 2nd ed. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

Wood, K.D., & Mateja, J. A. (1983). Adapting secondary level strategies for use in elementary classrooms. The Reading Teacher, 36, 492-496

Children's books to use with this strategy

What Darwin Saw: The Journey That Changed the World

What Darwin Saw: The Journey That Changed the World

By: Rosalyn Schanzer
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

What Charles Darwin saw and chronicled on his long journey is told here in text and illustration.



By: Jonah Winter
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

The journey of Barack Obama to national prominence and the U.S. Presidency began with his diverse heritage and self questioning but resulted in hope.

River of Words

River of Words

By: Jen Bryant
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography, Poetry
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Though he practiced medicine, William Carlos Williams never stopped writing poetry. This picture book biography celebrates the amazing man who found a way to earn a living and to honor his calling to be a poet.


This strategy is effective as it stimulates pupils' interest and curiosity .Besides, it helps them to understand the text . So, it is better than using questions.

Gold standard strategy well prepared...can actually see and feel the children growing thoughts and connecting ideas and being validated for it.

I found this strategy very useful. I am a second language learner and defiantly it assist me to read actively! thank you.

I enjoyed watching the 2nd grade teacher and students modeling this strategy. So often we do this verbally without even thinking about it, it simply comes naturally. I never thought about typing up something for the students to agree or disagree with before reading a story or passage.

This is a very useful strategy because it helps to get pupils focused and interested in the reading material. They enjoy completing the anticipation guides.

As an fellow educator, I found watching the video very insightful and interesting. Thank-you so much for such a well researched and detailed resource.

Thank you for this page! This cuts out time by providing three templates to choose from. Thanks!

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