Whole Brain Teaching & CAFE: Gestures for Reading Strategies

If you are like me, once you start using Whole Brain Teaching, you start using their principles for everything!

The concepts of movement, gestures, repetition, teaching each other, and having purposeful fun in class makes the day more enjoyable for my students and best of all, me! Can't beat that :)

This is the second year I have been using Daily 5 and the CAFE headers in my class for teaching reading and I love it! I recently was working with a small group of students during our guided reading "Teacher Time" and we were discussing a comprehension strategy. I found myself pointing to the side of my head with my index finger while saying "understand" and voila, the idea of combining gestures with the CAFE board was born.

Here are the signs and corresponding gestures in italics:
Comprehension (point both index fingers to your temples): I understand what I read (point both fingers to your temples and then put both palms together and open them, as if you were opening a "book")

Accuracy (point both index fingers to your temples): I can read the words (point both fingers to your eyes and then put both palms together and open them, as if you were opening a "book")

Fluency (point both index fingers to your mouth): I can read accurately and with expression (point both fingers to your mouth and then put a palm out into the air, palm up, like an opera singer-- this is a fun one!)

Expand Vocabulary (move both index fingers from your temples out during "Expand" and move both index fingers out from your mouth for "Vocabulary"): I know (place index fingers on your temples), find (place index fingers on your temples) and use (move both index fingers out from your mouth) interesting words (point both index fingers up to the sky-- like a lightbulb is going off!)

In my small group, we practiced teaching these to our partners and, although we haven't added too much to our CAFE board, I love the fact that they now know and can teach others what each header means! This really helps my kids who need the CAFE strategies the most! I don't think they had quite grasped what some of these headers meant until we were tapping our brains & eyes and making "books" with our hands.

I hope this is helpful to those of you delving into both WBT & Daily 5. If you use these, or any other gesturing with Daily 5, leave me a comment, I would love to add more moves to our repetoire!!

If you are interested in the Chevron CAFE Headers, they can be downloaded for free from my TpT Store HERE.


  1. Stephanie, I love that you have done this! I haven't used WBT in my classroom before but after reading about it I have sort of been doing this since I started using Jolly Phonics which also uses actions for learning sounds and grammar. I have added actions for the reading strategies, so when we are talking about "back up and re-read" we put our thumbs putting back over our shoulder, most of the other strategies I have used actions for as well. The kiddos catch on very quickly to actions. Great idea!
    Mrs Poultney's Ponderings

    1. Thanks, Tania! I love the idea of using gestures for the specific strategies, too. The Sisters use one for Cross-Checking and it's so much easier for kids to remember that one :) I love your backing up & rereading idea- we just talked about that strategy today, may need to revisit it tomorrow!


  2. Hey just emailed you :)

    I love how you've incorporated both of these systems to work together--so smart!!! It must help your kids a ton!

    1. I found whole brain teaching through your blog this summer and have been loving it! My kids had the idea to add gestures to our charts for Daily 5 Read to Self and Read to Someone. Now when we review the student and teacher jobs they do the gestures as well. They have even started to ask to add gestures anytime we make a chart!

    2. Love it, Stacy!! I'm so glad to hear it's that addicting for you guys, too :) Thanks for the great idea!


  3. Hi Stephanie,
    I'm your newest follower. Thanks for all of the great posts! Would you consider putting up a video or images of the hand signals for reading strategies?


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