Teaching Left to Right Progression

This is one of the many ways I teach print concepts in my Pre-K classroom. I use these charts to teach left-to-right progression of print, as well as top-to-bottom progression to children who are pre-readers.

Teach Left to Right Progression in Pre-K

Emergent reader books and other shared reading activities work well for this also.

I make each chart by writing simple, repetitive sentences. The sentences are rebus sentences, made by drawing very simple pictures in place of some words. Below the first word of each sentence, I draw a green dot, and below the period at the end of the sentence, I draw a red dot. The green dot shows children where we start when we read the sentence, and the red dot shows them where to stop. The black dotted line between the two dots is the “road” children follow as they “read”.

Teaching Left to Right Progression in Pre-K

To make it extra fun, we use a small toy of some kind to move across the sentence. For our Bug chart, I have a small plastic ladybug. I show the children how the ladybug starts at the green dot and moves along the road as I read the sentence.

Teaching Left to Right Progression in Preschool

It’s important that the sentences are short, simple, and repetitive, so children can quickly memorize what they are supposed to say. Memorization is not actual reading, of course, but the purpose of this activity is to practice left-to-right, top-to-bottom progression with children who don’t yet have the skills to read sentences.

Teaching Left to Right Progression of Print

With our fish chart, I use a small toy fish which moves across the sentence as we read. I also point out to the children how I start with the sentence at the top and move down. After I have demonstrated each sentence to the children, I have the class read along with me as I move the fish. Then I give each child an opportunity to move the fish as they “read” the sentences.

Teaching Left to Right Progression in Pre-K

We read until we stop at the red dot.

Teaching Concepts of Print in Preschool

I use these simple charts throughout the year with different themes. The mini toy used for our chart stories coordinates with the theme we are doing that month. In the Winter, we had a bear; during our Bug theme, we had the ladybug; during our Transportation theme, we had a car; and for our Water Animals theme, we are using the fish.

Each time we used these charts, I followed this same procedure:

  • I read the sentences to the class (while moving the toy across).
  • We read the sentences together (while I moved the toy across).
  • Each child had a turn to come up and read a sentence while they moved the toy across.

Every child I’ve had in my class so far has been successful because the sentences are easy to read. We clap for each child when they finish. I think it’s a great way to encourage reading and to help them feel like they are capable of learning to read.

To see more of the charts I’ve made, click the first image below to view the slideshow. You’ll be able to view more photos by using the arrow on the right side of the slideshow.


  1. says

    This is wonderful, Karen! I love how you use rebus sentences, and moving along the dotted line is a great idea. I’m going to suggest this idea to my sister-in-law for my nephew, who is developmentally delayed in quite a few areas. This is something fun he can do at home with a pencil topper.

  2. says

    This is a fabulous idea! Developmentally appropriate and very motivational for the children. I love how you have incorporated little toys that relate to the sentences and that are meaningful to the children. Excellent!
    Thank you for sharing,
    Heidi Butkus

  3. Prudie Rosier says

    Hi Karen

    Thanks for your ideas. They really come in handy and even though I have been teaching for many years, it is always great to try out new and interesting ideas. So thanks again. Have a great week.

  4. kamini says

    Thanks Karen. I’m using your fabulous ideas in my class. Children really enjoy. This left to right progression is also going to be fun in class. Thanks a lot

  5. Denise says

    I love this … I am graduating from college in December for early childhood education. I will need all the help I can get once I get my job. Thank you so much.

  6. says

    Very clever Karen – as usual!
    I just started a prek teaching blog with ideas from my integrated special ed. classroom – would love to have you check it out sometime – teacheach1.wordpress.com

  7. Katie says

    Hi Karen! This is a great post! A simple activity and clear instructions are so important when building a basic but fundamental skill like this. I can definitely see modeling this activity in storytime and encouraging caregivers to try it at home with a favorite animal or character. Thanks for the awesome idea!

  8. Iffat Ahmad says

    Hello karen,
    My son is a good learner but he is fussy in writting , he interested in drawing …pls put some articles on writting as well , or generating interest in writting

  9. sabrina says

    Oh what a great learning to read concept! Just pinned this for use with my homeschooled kids. Thanks so much for all of your wonderful and helpful posts.

  10. Judy says

    Thank you so much, Karen, for all your hard work. I love your ideas and they are appreciated very much. Your updates look great. Can’t wait to see what’s coming in the fall.

  11. Silvia Raya says

    Hi Karen,

    I love your ideas and suggestions!! Could you post something on the use of Big Books? Regards from Mexico.
    PD Enjoy your Summer

  12. says

    Karen, I like the idea of the green dot and red dot, helping kids see the left to right movement. Some great ideas for helping emergent readers. I could see adapting this for older kids as they begin to read and become more proficient. Some of my older kids last year had difficulty understanding a sentence’s beginning and ending when a longer sentence went to a second line. This could help reinforce that. Thanks for the idea!

  13. says

    Love your ideas – I also have been teaching for a number of years, and always excited to see new ideas – yours are awesome!! Thank you

  14. Jorie says

    Thanks so much for this idea! I’m homeschooling a K student who is having trouble with L-R progression and it’s hindering his reading. I’m adapting the idea to fit in our workbox activities. I think he’ll LOVE it – it involves a really simple layout, manageable amount of text, visual cues for reinforcement, and a creative hook. Love it! Thanks again!

  15. Marilyn Pamplin says

    This is an awesome idea. A very good exercise for my special needs learners the always have trouble with L-R. Thank you for your passion for teaching.

  16. Sarumathi says

    Hi, I am a parent of a son who is diagnosed with autism. I keep looking for resources for my son and this site is like a treasure for me.My son is 4 year old and he recently started to say words. I am using this to help him read. Thank you very much

  17. Kelly says

    would you start this in Sept and continue until the end of school year or only for a short period of time until concept is mastered?

    • says

      I usually do this in the second half of the year, but you could do it before. It often depends on the children: what they’re ready for and when they need to move on to something else depends on them. I wouldn’t want to say, this should be done at a specific time and for how long.

  18. says

    I just love this idea – especially the idea of using the rebus method. I will share it with the 21 preschool teachers that will attend my next training session. Well done, keep the ideas coming.

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