Joan Moser

Has anyone tried using CAFE in a kindergarten classroom? I am in the process of reading the CAFE book and I think it can definitely be successful in a classroom. I have the CAFE menu for emergent readers but now I was wondering if you anyone had any suggestions for launching this in your classroom. I would love to hear any ideas!





Trish Prentice

Yes! Yes! Yes! It’s the best. I introduce “check for understanding” on the first day of school. To me, it’s the cornerstone of all literacy. “We need to understand what we are reading.” Check the pictures is another strategy the children need very early in the year. The pace of adding strategies depends on how quickly the children catch on. One important thing to remember is that decoding words, at this age, usually comes at a slower pace than their comprehension skills. That’s why talking about books and strategies is so important. Which strategy to introduce? Sometimes I pick one to go with a particular book I’m sharing. Often times, I see a need for a strategy from several children while conferring with them. I’ll make a note to introduce that strategy in the next day or two. Involve the children in making the strategy cards to put on the menu board. I actually do the writing, not many kindergartners can print well enough or even copy correctly at the beginning of the year. But I do let the children decorate the strategy cards. This gives them the feeling of ownership. My best advice is USE the CAFE board…refer to strategies every single day. You will be amazed and delighted in how much your students will learn and grow. Keep a notepad handy to write down the amazing things they will share about books. It will warm your teacher heart.

Joan Moser

Hear Hear Trish! I so agree and have run my Kindergarten room the same way. The Emergent CAFE is a great tool for the teacher to use to see how students are progressing but we don’t post the strategies from that menu on the wall, just as Trish said.

Leslie Morrison

I am a NEW Kindergarten teacher and I’m in love with Daily Five & CAFE, but still feeling a bit overwhelmed on how to use CAFE. I think some of it comes with not knowing exactly what I’m going to be required to assess yet too.
With Kindergarten do we really get use all the menu?

Janonne Robbins

I also have a question - should you post the strategies on your CAFE board for kindergarten?

Trish Prentice

The CAFE menu is a great addition to a Kindergarten classroom. I would not teach reading without it. The strategies you post on your menu board are the ones you will be teaching the majority of the students. Do not feel pressure to use all of the strategies because some may not be developmentally appropriate for your students. If you have a very high reader, you can introduce them to a particular strategy that meets their need while you confer with them individually. Gail and Joan purposefully call it a menu because you can pick and choose what your children need.
As you meet with students and small groups, you will be listening to them read. From that you will be able to determine their next steps. It becomes very fluid. For example, if you hear a few students having trouble with silent e endings then that becomes your mini-lesson the following day. Now that is true assessment driving instruction.
And yes, do post those strategies. After each read-aloud, we look at our board and pick out a strategy or two to discuss. Later in the year, you’ll be able to turn the process over to the students and say, “What strategies can we use with this book?” It’s amazing all the connections they will make.
I would also recommend introducing strategies slowly. There is no race to get it all on the board. It’s better to take one at a time and model, model, model with your read alouds until it becomes second nature. That being said, you can also begin talking about other strategies a bit before you introduce them as strategy to post on the board. It’s almost like a pre-teach, if that makes sense. For example, we might “notice” the rhyming words in a book but it’s not the main focus of our strategy work that week.
To me, the best part of using the CAFE menu with Kindergartners comes from the discussions you will have with students. Talking about books gives them the freedom to think deeply without any decoding pressure. In addition, think of the habits you are forming for “reading with a purpose” and “reading for meaning.” It may be the most important academic skill we teach.
Happy Reading!

Molly Miller

Do you post both the emergent and CAFE menu strategies at the same time on the CAFE board in the classroom?


At their workshops, the Sisters have shared this: The Emergent Menu is truly for teachers to use to guide them in checking pre-reading skills and strategies. They recommend putting up the CAFE menu as soon as possible, starting with appropriate strategies for your kiddos.

Susan Bullock

Couldn’t do without cafe in my kinder class… It is the heart of my literacy instruction. I introduce two to three strategies a week through whole group extend read alouds. While introducing, start card is on easel in large group area so I can refer to it and draw attention to. Once covered, I post on cafe board… Due to lack of wall space, it isn’t in large group area but will refer to through out year. I prewrite strategy cards and put in books will use for read aloud. Keeps me accountable. Will individually guide students in using different strategies based on their needs, but everyone gets whole group lesson. Hope that helps.

Amy Keene

As I read this it sounds as though you all have students who know all their letters sounds and names when they walk through the door. Is that the case? If not, how to you incorporate teaching sounds and names?

Jody Jarding

I am wondering the same thing. I work with Kinder teachers and this is their first year with CAFE and this is one of their concerns.

Megan Cain

I have used Daily 5 in my kindergarten room for 3 years and love it. I asked about an interactive Emergent Cafe Menu just like they have the interactive Cafe menu for 1st through 5th about a year ago and they said it was in the works. I’m not seeing it on the website. Anybody heard whether this is really gonna happen? I struggle at times to quickly decide what to teach when and to who so this resource would be helpful


Your message has been forward to the Sisters, and we’ll give you an answer as soon as possible ;).


Here is a response from Gail about the Emergent Menu:
"We continue to discuss the emergent menu and how to decide on strategies to teach students. This is a focus area for us this year. We hope to have more clarity for you soon. "
I hope this helps you get a picture on what’s on the horizon.

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