MENU Board for Reading Comprehension

If you've been following me for a while, you may remember once upon a time during my Classroom Tour, a picture of our class MENU Board:

This board lives at the front of our class and was originally created out of necessity, but now that we're a third of the way through the year, I am happy to report it's doing its job very well!

What is the MENU Board? Think a mix between CAFE and CRAFT-- it's a place for us to record our reading strategies in a central location that we can refer back to throughout the year.

Why not use CAFE or CRAFT? Well, originally I was. I loved CAFE from the 2 Sisters until my friend Kristen at Ladybug's Teacher Files came up with CRAFT, which I *adored*!! She incorporated the "Response to Text" column which was so important for my third graders. I loved being able to delve into the "craft" of their written responses and have these strategies prominently displayed on our bulletin board.

My Dilemma? This year, I am job sharing, so my bulletin boards needed to be split so we could each have our space. No problem, but the board in the front couldn't support CRAFT. I was so bummed, but I had to think of a new acronym, since I didn't feel going back to CAFE would adequately address the needs of my third graders.

MENU Board

I came up with MENU and have been able to somewhat effectively move and categorize the top strategies I loved from CRAFT and CAFE to work in this new format.

M: Meaningful Reading 
(a lot of my Accuracy and Fluency strategies go in here, along with "What good readers do" types of things)
E: Explain in Writing 
(this is the "Response to Text" that I loved and adored)
N: New Words & Vocabulary 
(here's where the decoding, reference, and even grammar skills come in)
U: Understand the Text 
(basically all comprehension strategies, both for fiction and nonfiction)

Although this isn't as comprehensive as CRAFT, it is more grade-level based than CAFE was for us, and I am thrilled that I am still able to incorporate this strategy board in our classroom.

How do I use our MENU Board? I will typically begin the year with my Fiction Reading Strategies Posters and Brochures. I will use the posters in my Teacher Time, but will put the general strategy on our MENU Board to refer back to later. As we talk about any new skill or strategy related to reading, even if we make a separate Anchor Chart or have posters displayed, I will write a short sentence to add to the Board. Because classroom displays change all of the time, and because they may not always have the posters in close proximity, I want this board to be able to jog their memory and hopefully help them during their reading.

Having Students Keep Track: This next part was new to me, but I tried it out due to space constraints. As we continue to add to the board, I anticipate running out of room. Also, as kids work with me in small group or a partner, or even independently, they may not be able to see the board quickly. My solution was to enlarge the MENU Board on an 11x17" paper and have kids copy down the strategy every time we add it to the board. Obviously, an added benefit is they are writing it down, so it's getting into their brains in another way, but for me it was originally just to have quick access to the Board no matter where they were.

We'll continue to add to this as we go through the year and this stays in the "Teacher Time" part of their Reader's Workshop folder.

If you're interested in picking up the title cards, lined paper, and the Student MENU Board, they are available as a freebie on Google Docs HERE.

Biggest Bonus? We use my Reading Response Menus for weekly homework, so the "MENU" theme really gets supported! Sidenote: I always thought that if I wasn't a teacher, I'd love to be a cook, so maybe it's all coming together in this random way instead ;) The added good news is that a lot of these strategies are reinforced in their Response Menu homework, so they can think "MENU" while working on their Menu!

Let me know any questions you have and I am happy to do more follow-up posts as the year progresses and our Board grows!


  1. Wow, I love this so much, it really goes along with the RACE acronym going around these days. Do you mind sharing a little more about how you use it for homework?
    Thanks again so very much.
    - Sydney
    Lessons Learned

  2. This makes sense to me. I tried CAFE, but it didn't meet the needs of my fourth graders. I might try your acronym instead.
    Artistry of Education

  3. Do you have a list of strategies for each category?

  4. I love this idea, and that you offer it free! Thank you so much. As a teacher who changed careers later in life, I so appreciate the number of fabulous resources I can find on the internet. Your site and ideas have been an inspiration for my own third grade class!