Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog!

Guided Reading to Support Textbook Reading, Part 2

Posted by Geraldine Haggard on Mar 7, 2017 3:34:00 PM


This is a guest blog post by Dr. Geraldine Haggard, who is a retired teacher, Reading Recovery teacher leader, author, and university teacher. It is the second post in a series about using guided reading activities to support content-area textbook reading. To read the first post, click here.

In today's post, I'll give examples of how to provide textbook reading support for science lessons in the lower elementary grades.


There are several tasks to complete before you can formally support readers in using content area reading texts.

First, you should explore available materials and select diverse reading materials that support the standards for the unit of study in the content area:

  • Formal textbook content that is up-to-date and appropriate
  • Books in classroom libraries and school libraries
  • Books for guided and shared reading during language arts lessons
  • Computer sites that are available and approved by your district. 

If you find a formal textbook to use, select the appropriate sections of the textbook and consider how much assistance they will need to read the text. It is important that all students are given support for two aspects of textbook reading: content-specific vocabulary and informational text features.


New vocabulary can present challenges: pronunciation, words with multiple meanings, and a lack of prior knowledge about the word and how it is used in new content. The following activities can help prepare the students for their introduction to new vocabulary:

  • A short video that introduces the unit of study and contains some of the new vocabulary
  • Reading books that introduce the topic
  • Teaching the students how to use a glossary
  • Helping students hear word segments by clapping the syllables in a new word. (As a fourth grade teacher, I used a bulletin board to divide the words into syllables and play riddle games. We also played bingo that enabled them to practice writing the word and remember its definition.)

Remember that students must understand the meaning of a word as they hear and see it. Writing the word can help the word become a part of their mastered vocabulary.


Introduce students to the informational text features that provide tools to help understand new topics and vocabulary. Project a copy of Fantastic Frogs from Hameray’s Real World collection or use guided reading copies.


Front cover:

  • Discuss the information that the cover provides, including the title, author, and publisher.
  • Why do you think there is a picture on the cover?
  • What does “fantastic” mean?

Title page:

  • How is the title page similar to the front cover? How is it different?
  • Do you think the picture is fantastic? Why?

Pages 4 – 5:

  • What is the title or subject of these two pages?
  • Study the pictures. How do they help the student’s understanding of the text?
  • Ask the student to do shared reading while reading the pages. Slowly pronounce the two bolded words. Ask the students to use the glossary to identify the words.
  • Invite the students to discuss why frogs might need to adapt. Can you think of other amphibians that live on land and water?

Make sure to note that every word in the index was also included in the glossary, which explains content-specific vocabulary.

Next Tuesday, I’ll discuss how to apply this reading support for higher-level social studies curriculum. Make sure to subscribe to the blog in the right-hand toolbar to receive my new post in your inbox! 


Geraldine Haggard is the author of several books from our Kaleidoscope Collection. She spent 37 years in the Plano, TX school system. She currently tutors, chairs a committee that gifts books to low-income students, teaches in her church, and serves as a facilitator in a program for grieving children. 


Click the image below to learn about Story World Real World, which features the book mentioned in this post. 

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Topics: Real World, Informational Text, Geraldine Haggard, Science, Guided Reading

Using Joy Cowley in Science Lessons

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Mar 2, 2017 2:34:00 PM

Joy Cowley’s stories are famous for teaching “literacy through laughter” and are specially written for young students who are developing their reading skills. Did you know that Joy Cowley’s narratives could also be used to teach content subjects? By pairing her books with supplemental informational texts, you can use Joy Cowley in all your lessons, all day long!


In ­Wishy-Washy Mirror, Mrs. Wishy-Washy's animals encounter a mirror for the first time. The cow peers into the mirror and sees a picture of a cow, but the pig sees a picture of the pig (34). Discuss with your students why the animals can’t agree on the mirror’s content. What happens when your students look into a mirror?

The Next Generation Science Standards expect first-grade students to understand that light waves can travel in many ways, including by bouncing off of reflective materials (1-PS4-3). To teach students exactly how mirrors work, introduce Mirror Magic!


Part of the Story World Real World series and leveled at Guided Reading level L, comprehending the entire Mirror Magic book may be challenging for many first-grade students. However, they can focus solely on pages 6–7, which trace the path of a light when it reflects off of a mirror. Of course, you as a teacher can read the rest of the book aloud and try the cool mirror tricks in class!

Although more implicit in content, What Is a Cow? from Joy Cowley Early Birds is also relevant for science lessons. The title of the book poses a research question: “What is a cow?” In the story, Little Rabbit and Chickie set out to answer this question by observing a cow outside. Both characters draw upon their own knowledge to describe different features of the cow, such as “A cow has four posts” (4) for its legs and “a cow has a rope” (5) for its tail. This process of asking questions and observing real-life evidence for answers parallels the Scientific Method introduced by Aristotle. Reading this story will help your students think like scientists!


Joy Cowley doesn’t need to be confined into your literacy lessons. You can incorporate her lovable stories into your science lessons as well!


Click the left image below to learn more about Joy Cowley Early Birds, which includes Wishy-Washy Mirror and What Is a Cow? Click the right image below to learn more about Story World Real World, which contains Mirror Magic.

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Topics: Joy Cowley Early Birds, Real World, Science, First Grade

Maps and the Common Core

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Feb 23, 2017 3:19:00 PM

 One of the ten Common Core Anchor Standards for Reading is to “integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words” (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.R.7). In addition to illustrations and diagrams, looking at maps can fulfill this Common Core State Standard. Not only does map-reading further a students’ comprehension of nonfiction informational texts, this skill is also helpful for social studies and history lessons.

All maps provide information, but their specific function within a book depends on the textual context. Understanding these different functions will allow you, as an educator, to effectively discuss why an author decided to include a map and how a map brings important information to the text.  

Maps support an argument.

Wolves in the Wild, a nonfiction book from the Story World Real World series, argues that hunters threaten the future of wolves (7). This textual claim is supported by a map showing where “wolves used to live” (red) and where “wolves live” today (green). This visual evidence allows students to immediately understand that the wolf habitat is shrinking. Thus, the map strengthens an argument that is made through the text. 5337 Wolves in the Wild_Inside_FINAL (dragged).jpgMaps express diversity.

Breakfast Around the World opens with a two-page world map. The map is labeled with different breakfasts explained in the book. By pinpointing each breakfast on the same map, students can understand that these dishes really come from different corners of the world. A world map also encourage students to locate themselves and understand their geographic position relative to the children features in this book.

Maps explain history.

Anne Frank from the Hameray Biography series features a map of Germany and its surrounding countries (12). The map provides a visual aid for understanding that the Nazis crossed a border to invade the Netherlands, where Anne Frank lived with her family.

Maps provide information on different scales.

Nelson Mandela’s biography contains multiple maps. First, a map of Africa explains South Africa’s location within the continent (4). Then, a second map zooms in to focus on the country of South Africa and its major cities (13). Although both maps include South Africa, the first map provides a global context while the second focuses on the cities within the nation. Emphasize to your students that each map carries a certain perspective and scale.


Exposing your students to different maps is the key to honing their map-reading skills. Maps don’t just serve a purpose for geography and history lessons—they fulfill Common Core Reading Standards, too!


Click the left image below to learn more about Story World Real World, which contains Wolves in the Wild and Breakfast Around the World. Click the middle image to download a Teacher's Guide for Anne Frank. Click the right image to download a Teacher's Guide for Nelson Mandela.

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Topics: Common Core, Real World, Biography Series, Social Studies, Maps

Groundhog Day Science!

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Feb 2, 2017 3:12:00 PM

Happy Groundhog Day! Punxtsutawney Phil saw his shadow today, which means that we still have six more weeks of winter...or do we?

Groundhog Day is always filled with anticipation, so children are always disappointed when they learn that the custom has no concrete meteorological reasoning. Although the groundhog’s shadow might not accurately predict the arrival of spring, you can teach students that we can actually shadows on the ground to tell the time!


What’s The Time? from the Story World Real World series explains different ways in which humans can measure time. Before reading, discuss that shadows occur when an object blocks light. If your students have already learned about opaque and transparent objects, this discussion will review the concept that only opaque objects create shadows.

SWRW_WHAT'S THE TIME__INSIDE (dragged).jpgp. 4:

  • Read about the relationship between the sun and a shadow. When a groundhog sees its shadow, where is the light coming from? (The sun.)
  • If you have a portable projector or another movable source of light in your classroom, use it to demonstrate that when the light source moves, the shadow moves, too. 
p. 5:
  • What is a sundial? Ask students to point to the shadow in the image. This exercise teaches that images illustrate and support key ideas in the text (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.1.6).
  • How does a sundial look similar to the clocks you see today? How is it different?
p. 6–7:
  • If it’s sunny outside, make a class sundial as shown in the book. All you need are stones or chalk and a tall stick. You can make a sundial with snow on the ground, too, as long as the sun is in the sky!


Groundhog Day itself doesn’t have scientific credibility, but you can teach real science lessons about shadows and time instead. Students will be thrilled to turn off the classroom lights and watch shadows move! Make sure to read the rest of What’s The Time? to learn about egg timers, hourglasses, and other clocks that don’t use shadows.



Click the images below to learn more about Story World Real World, which contains the book featured in this post.

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Topics: Real World, Informational Text, Holiday, Science

Building Argumentative and Reasoning Skills

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Jan 5, 2017 3:26:00 PM


Happy New Year! As your students return from the winter vacation, they will surely be excite dot share stories about hteir holiday adventures. While their memories and schema for different places are still fresh, why not read a book about exploration?

Where Would You Like to Live?, an informational text from the Story World Real World series, examines different houses that the reader can live inside. For each location, the author presents an argument for and against living in that house. This structure helps students understand and "describe how reasons support specific points the author makes in a text" (CCSS.ELA-LlTERACY.RI.2.8). Although the book is leveled at guided reading level I, the book can be utilized for any grade—the content is relevant and intriguing for higher ages too!

Before reading:

  • Read the book title. If necessary, review the function of a question mark.
  • Explain that the book will present different possible answers to the question "Where Would You Like to Live?"

Page 4:

  • Has anyone been to a lighthouse before? If so, what was it like? If you're lucky, one of your students will have visited one over the break and will be able to provide details for other students.

Page 5:

  • Read the paragrah titled "Yes!" What is another reason why living in a lighthouse is a good idea? Write down your students' ideas on the left side of the board.
  • Next, read the paragraph titled "But..." What is another reason why living in a lighthouse is a bad idea? Write down these ideas on the right side of the board.
  • Hold a class vote. Would you like to live in a lighthouse? Ask students to raise their hands if their answer is "yes."


Page 6 to 12:

  • Repeat the discussion for the remaining houses. Encourage students to come up with as many reasons as possible for each location, and allow them to answer "yes" to more than one house.

Page 14:

  • Why is it a bad idea to live in a dollhouse?

After reading:

  • Have a whole-class "debate" to decide which house is the best place to live: a lighthouse, tree house, motorhome, igloo, or houseboat. 
  • Encourage students to provide both supporting reasons for their opinions and counterarguments to other students' claims.
  • At the end of the discussion, hold a class vote answering, "Where would you like to live?" This time, students can only vote once!

Where would you like to live?


Click the image below to download an informational sheet about the Story World Real World Series, which includes the books featured in this blog post.

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Topics: Real World, Informational Text, Reasoning

Gingerbread Kids: A Listing and Sequencing Lesson

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Dec 22, 2016 3:45:00 PM

The holidays bring so many seasonal joys to the neighborhood--decorations, carols, gifts, and more! Perhaps the most anticipated part, however, is the bountiful sweets and treats that we can only enjoy once a year. 

Children love joining their parents in the kitchen. Why not bring this exciting experience to the classroom with Gingerbread KidsPart of the Story World Real World series, Gingerbread Kids is leveled at Guided Reading Level K.


Before reading:

  • Ask your students if they have ever baked in the kitchen. What did they bake? What was the experience like?
  • What is a gingerbread cookie? What does it taste like? Write down adjectives that describe gingerbread cookies on the board. Has anyone baked a gingerbread cookie before?

Page 6:

  • One-by-one, read and discuss the list of ingredients to make gingerbread cookies. Ask your students if they’ve eaten or baked with each ingredient before. If so, what does it taste like?
  • Use the glossary to look up the definition of
  • What do the numbers represent? (Measurements; or, in other words, how much of an ingredient you need.) Why are these numbers important?

Page 7:

  • How is the list on this page different from the list on the previous page?


5252_Gingerbread Kids_Inside_FINAL (dragged).jpgAfter reading:

  • Discuss the function of lists, using the 2 ingredients lists and your adjective lists as a guide. In the case of ingredients, the lists help us easily understand different items that go into making gingerbread cookies. In case of adjectives, the list gives us a lot of information in a concise fashion.

Sequencing activity for guided reading:

  • Photocopy pages 6 for each student. Using pages 8−13, ask students to number each item on the ingredients list as they are used. For example, “flour, baking soda, and ginger” will be numbered 1, 2, and 3 because they are used at the very beginning of the baking process.
  • This sequencing activity is not only useful for baking, but will also help students improve their comprehension skills for narrative plots!



If you have time, don’t forget to check out the classic story, The Gingerbread Man, that inspired Gingebread Kids.

What is your favorite holiday treat? Let us know in the comments below!


Click the image below to download an informational sheet about the Story World Real World Series, which includes the books featured in this blog post.

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Topics: Story World, Real World, Holiday, Sequencing

Classic Post: A Thanksgiving Lesson on Where Food Comes From—with FREE download

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on Nov 22, 2016 3:34:00 PM

Thanksgiving, our biggest food holiday of the year, provides the perfect opportunity to do a short unit on food and how it gets to the table. As a harvest celebration, Thanksgiving naturally lends itself to discussions about farms and what a harvest is, as well as the various other steps in the food production process from farm to table.

thanksgiving dinner 250The foods traditionally eaten on Thanksgiving are generally minimally processed foods that are easily traced back to their farm origins. Try introducing your class to some food-related fictional literature, such as Thanksgiving Dinner (which lists traditional Thanksgiving foods in a playful rhyme), The Little Red Hen (which traces the bread-making process from seed to table), or your favorite Thanksgiving story or food/farm story.

Then bolster the ideas from those fictional stories with informational texts that teach children about farms, harvests, and where food comes from. In the Story World Real World series, the Little Red Hen theme set comes with the storybook and three food-related informational texts: Different Kinds of Bread (which explores different breads from around the world), Who Made Our Breakfast? (which uses real photography and facts to explain the seed-to-table process of breadmaking introduced in the story book), and Great Grains (which discusses how grains are used for food).

Other books that introduce children to farming include the following:

1) General: Where Does It Come From?; On the Farm

2) Animals: the books in the Farm habitat in the Zoozoo Animal World series

3) Plants: the books in the Growing Things theme of the My World series

Pretty much any books that help children make the connection between their food and its source will be helpful for this lesson.

One way to really tie the concept to the holiday is to ask your students to bring a Thanksgiving recipe from home, then trace each of the ingredients in the recipe back to its source. You can let the children or parents choose the recipe, or you can brainstorm a list of foods as a class, then divide the class into groups of assigned recipes. This also allows children who might not have traditionally American customs to suggest a special holiday dish from their own culture and share the information with the class.

You can download a free worksheet at the bottom of this page to use in this lesson! It spaces for recipe ingredients, whether the ingredient source is a plant or an animal, and a space for children to try to draw the ingredient (either in natural or processed form) or cut and past an image of it.


To download your free reproducible worksheet, click the worksheet image below. To learn more about the series mentioned in this article, visit our website by clicking the book and series links embedded in the text.

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Topics: Story World, Real World, Holiday, Lesson Plan, Kaleidoscope Collection, Zoozoo Animal World, My World

Teach Back-to-School Safety with Informational Texts

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Aug 18, 2016 3:30:00 PM

As the end of August approaches, the beginning of school is right around the corner! For students, a new school year ushers in a multitude of new encounters: meeting new people, making new friends, starting new activities and maybe even attending a new school.

Although the novelty of it all can be thrilling, it’s crucial to ensure that students know how to act safely, especially in new situations. Stay Safe, a Real World book from the Story World Real World series, offers concrete ways that students can stay safe both in and out of school. The book includes key nonfiction features such as headings and an index, allowing you to introduce informational texts to the classroom while teaching about back-to-school safety.


After reading the text once through as a class, return back to the table of contents.

  • Discuss how the table of contents tells us about the information in a book. (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.I.5)
  • Examine the items listed in the table of contents. Which safety information is helpful for staying safe at school? (A: All of them!) 

pg5.jpgEmphasize sections of Stay Safe that are especially relevant for the beginning of a new school year: 

Stay Safe Going to School (pp. 6–7)

  • Ask students how they get to school.
  • For students who ride the bus, make sure they wait with friends at the bus stop. Stay seated on the bus while it is in motion.
  • For students who walk, help them map out the safest route from their home to school. Why is crossing guard written in bold? Where should we look to find the meaning of crossing guard? (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.I.5)
  • For students who arrive by car, stress the importance of wearing a seat belt. Remember that children must ride in booster seats until they are eight to twelve years old. 

Play Safe (pp. 8–9)

  • It’s important to receive permission from a parent or guardian before arranging a play date with a new friend. Remind students to make sure their parents know where they are going and with whom. 


A few students might feel worried or spooked, but there is no such thing as having too many conversations about safety. Assure the students that not all strangers are bad, but it’s important to be cautious in order to feel happy and free from harm. With Stay Safe, you can ensure a safe and successful school year for everyone!


Click the image below to download an information sheet with key features about Story World Real World, which contains the book featured in this blog post. 

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Topics: Common Core, Real World, Informational Text, Leveled Readers, Safety, Sally Hosokawa

Teaching Fairy Tales: A Cinderella Lesson Plan for Common Core

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on Jun 9, 2016 5:19:03 PM



The Common Core places a lot of emphasis on text types, with traditional tales being one of the main types of literature mentioned in the ELA standards. We created the Story World Real World series to meet a need for paired texts and traditional tales, and coming soon is a Common Core-correlated teacher's guide to assist you with making these lessons easy! Here's a sample of a lesson based on Cinderella!

Features of the Text:

  • Traditional story.
  • Aligned with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). See CCSS Reading Standards for Literature, Grade 1: #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 10.
  • Punctuation: speech punctuation, exclamation marks, questions marks.
  • Opportunities to develop reading for inference skills.
  • Dialogue between characters.
  • Vocabulary development (e.g., mean, work, ugly, magic, sparkling, slipper, midnight, charmed, hurts).
  • Words and phrases that suggest feelings or appeal to the senses (CCSS Reading Standards for Literature, Grade 1: #3).
  • The characters’ actions and feelings (CCSS Reading Standards for Literature, Grade 1: #4).

Before Reading:

  • Tell the children you are going to read a story that people have loved so much they have been telling it for hundreds of years.
  • Examine the cover and the title.
    • What do you think this story is going to be about?
    • Why does it say “retold by”?
  • Make a connection with the children’s experience:
    • Do you know the story of Cinderella? It is probably one of the most well-known fairy tales. Let’s find out why.

During Reading:

  • Read the text with the children, encouraging them to join in with the reading when they think they know the words.
  • Before turning the page, encourage the children to predict what will happen next.

Cinderella_Inside_Final-16.jpgAfter Reading:

  • Discuss vocabulary, e.g., mean, work, ugly, magic, sparkling, slippers, midnight, charmed, hurts.
  • Discuss text features such as speech punctuation.
    • How do we know who is talking? How do we know where the talk starts and ends? (A: speech punctuation.)
  • Discuss the illustrations.
    • What do the illustrations tell us about the characters? For example, look at Cinderella’s clothes at the start of the story. What do you think they tell us about how she was treated?
    • Do the two sisters look ugly or beautiful to you?
    • Look at the illustration on page 13 showing the prince holding the glass slipper. What do you think he is thinking and feeling?
  • Reread pages 2–3:
    • Do you think Cinderella was treated fairly?
    • How do you think she felt when the ugly sisters made fun of her and made her do all the work?
    • Role play: If you were Cinderella, what would you like to say to your mean stepmother and your two unkind sisters?
  • Reread pages 4–5:
    • How do you think the sisters felt about the invitation to the ball? How do you think Cinderella felt?
    • Role play: If you were one of Cinderella’s sisters, what would you have said when you read the king’s invitation? What would you have said to Cinderella? If you were Cinderella, what would you have said when you saw the invitation? What would you have said to the sisters?
    • What do you think Cinderella felt when her sisters went off to the ball?
  • Reread pages 6–7:
    • What do you think Cinderella felt when she saw her fairy godmother appear?
    • Role play: If you were Cinderella and you suddenly found yourself wearing a beautiful ball gown and sparkling glass slippers, what do you think you would say to your fairy godmother? What would you tell her about how you felt?
    • Look at the illustrations. Is there anything in the picture that might help you predict what is going to happen next? (A: The pumpkin and the mice.)
  • Reread pages 8–9:
    • Look at the illustrations. How can you tell what the coach was made from? What about the “horses”?
    • Can you draw a clock and show where the hands would be at midnight?
    • What does the fairy godmother mean when she says about the clock “striking” twelve?
    • How do you think Cinderella was feeling as she rode off in the coach?
  • Cinderella_Inside_Final-6.jpgReread pages 10–11:
    • Look at the illustrations. What do you think each person looking at Cinderella was thinking or whispering to the people nearby?
    • Role play this as a “still frame.” Choose children to be the different people in the illustration. Get them to stand as if they are in a still photograph. Make sure each is facing the same way and has a similar expression as in the book illustration. Then let each person, one at a time, come alive and speak, expressing thoughts and feelings. How do some of the words used in the text help us understand what they are feeling? (“beautiful,” “wonderful,” “charmed,” etc.)
    • If you have a class dress-up box (assorted pieces of cloth, old drapes, etc., rather than actual costumes), help the students dress up a little for the still-frame role play. You might also like to practice this a little, then videotape the sequence. Play it back and talk about the characters and what they are feeling.
  • Reread pages 12–13:
    • Talk about how Cinderella must have been feeling as she danced. Remind the children about Cinderella’s life just a few hours before. Help the children make a list of words to describe how she was feeling.
    • Why do you think Cinderella had forgotten about the clock striking twelve? (A: She was having such a wonderful time.)
    • How do you think she felt when she heard the clock start to strike? Help the children write down the thoughts that were going through her head as she heard this. Use quotation marks to indicate Cinderella’s own words or thoughts. Talk about speech punctuation—the way we show our readers who is talking and what they say.
    • On page 13, what is the clock showing? What do you think the prince felt when Cinderella suddenly ran off? What do you think he thought and felt when he discovered her glass slipper?
  • Reread pages 14–15:
    • Why do you think so many people wanted to try on the glass slipper? (A: Perhaps they all wanted to marry the Prince!)
    • Do you think the prince would have liked to marry one of Cinderella’s sisters? Why not?
    • Look at the illustration closely—what do you think Cinderella is thinking and feeling?
  • Reread age 16:
    • The prince is “so happy” that the slipper fits. What does it feel like to be “so happy”?
    • What do you think Cinderella was feeling when the prince asked her to marry him?
    • Look at the stepmother’s face in the illustration. What do you think she is thinking and feeling? (A: Maybe she is thinking there is some advantage for her in this too!)
  • Shared writing activity:
    • Get the children to retell the events of the story (CCSS, Grade 1: #2), then help them turn this retelling into captions, e.g., “Cinderella is made to do all the work. Her ugly sisters do nothing.” What happens next? “The king’s invitation to the ball arrives.” What happens next? “Cinderella’s fairy godmother gets Cinderella ready for the ball.” What happens next? “Cinderella dances all night with the Prince.”
    • Write each caption for the children on large cards, then divide the children into groups.
    • Give each group a caption, a sheet of art paper each, and suitable art materials. Help them plan and complete their own illustration for each caption (CCSS, Grade 1: #7).
    • Mount their drawings on the wall with the captions in sequence to make a wall story. Prepare a “title page” too. “Cinderella retold by room 4 at Sunshine School. Illustrated by (the children’s names).” Read the story with the children.
    • You might like to share your Cinderella wall story with another class. Congratulations, you are published authors!

Check back frequently for more news of our upcoming teacher's guides—for this series and others!

For more information on Story World Real World, you can click the image to the left below to download a series information sheet with key features, or you can click here to visit our website. Click the image to the right below to download a brochure.

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Topics: Story World, Real World, Lesson Plan, Alan Trussell-Cullen, Teacher's Guides

[New Post] Using Leveled Books to Teach Science in Kindergarten: Part 4

Posted by Geraldine Haggard on Mar 31, 2016 4:05:24 PM

GHaggardbiopicThis is a guest blog post by Dr. Geraldine Haggard, who is a retired teacher, Reading Recovery teacher leader, author, and university teacher. She spent 37 years in the Plano, TX school system. She currently tutors, chairs a committee that gifts books to low-income students, teaches in her church, and serves as a facilitator in a program for grieving children.

This is the fourth post in a series of posts on teaching and using leveled books for learning science in kindergarten. To read the first post, click here. To read last week’s post, click here. To read the next post in this series, please check back next week. You can always subscribe to our blog to get our guest bloggers’ new posts in your inbox.


Continuing from where we finished last week, the following are a couple supplementary examples of fun classroom activities, using leveled books, to use and introduce to your classroom of young readers, when teaching science. Last week, we discussed science-related classroom activities around 2 particular books, A House for Me and We are Thirsty. This week, we’ll look at 2 different books, namely Who Needs Water?, from the paired-text series Story World Real World, and Baby Food from the series of 150 leveled readers for K-3, the Kaleidoscope Collection.


Activity 5  |  Book    Who Needs Water? 

In this activity, we are spending time with the book Who Needs Water, from Story World Real World. To begin, opening the book, across pages 4–7 of the title, we both revisit the fact that living things need water to drink — in order to live — as well as are introduced to other interesting uses of water. With your classroom, share these pages (pages 4–7). With your students, look through them and review them, and ask your students to brainstorm other, additional ways that water may be used. Tell the children that you want them to predict what other ways they think they need water — for more than drinking.

Write any of their responses to these questions on the board. The rest of the book can then be explored and shared. After reading the last pages of the text, refer to the predictions made by the children about how water is used. Let them figure out what they predicted, and what they didn’t predict. Before doing this, read the list to and with the students. Discuss how each of these other uses of water provides things that we may need. One example might be “Without water I would have to wear dirty clothes.” Another example you might use: the page with the picture of the dam could be introduced to the classroom by turning off lights in the classroom, and turning them on again. Some of the children may offer the word ‘electricity’. 

Additionally, you may discuss rain, and snow. What have the children done in rain and snow? What happens to their clothes? When snow melts, what does it become? Page 14 answers that question. Page 12 tells us that drops of water are in the air all around us. 

On the following day, the children can start to draw three pictures in their journal that show how they use water in some way. Suggest that they share with two other neighboring students their drawings. Revisit the list of ways to use water from the previous day. Read the list and ask the children to raise a hand if they included that use of water in their drawings. Ask the children which use was the most chosen, and then, ask them why they thought that particular use was the most important.

Activity 6  |  Book    Baby Food

For the next classroom activity, using the book Baby Food, from the Kaleidoscope Collection, students can explore the theme of living things needing food in order to survive. To begin, invite the students to write about, as well as illustrate, their favorite foods in their personal journals. Then, ask volunteers to come to the classroom’s author's chair and share their creations. After several students have shared, some example questions that might be used to guide a discussion are as follows: Do you think other members of your family have the same favorite foods as you? Why exactly do you think that? Is there a young child or baby in your family? Do they (the young child of baby) eat in the same way that you do? Are there things you can eat, which a baby cannot eat? Invite those with younger family members to share.


Next, explain that you are going to read a story, Baby Food, to them. Share the book's front cover with the class, either with a classroom projector or by holding up the book in-front of the class. Invite the children to predict what they think will happen in the story. Some may want to share what they have seen happen to a baby or younger child in their own families. In the story, the character, Big Sister, encourages the baby to eat certain things. Let the children know that you want them to listen, and remember things in the story that they themselves have eaten. As you read try to use different voices for the mother and big sister.

After reading, compile a list of foods from the story that the children have eaten. Talk about why the baby eats his or her in a different way. Ask the students questions, such as “Why do you not eat like a baby?” Then, at a center or the art table, provide grocery ads for the children to cut out pictures of food. Provide baskets or envelopes for children to place their cut-out pictures in. Discuss and talk with the students about the differences between vegetables, fruits, and meats. Provide a large poster or bulletin board for students to place their pictures on. This display can be used as you use the last book later.

This is the end of Part 4 in this series of blog posts on
teaching and using leveled books for science in kindergarten. To read the first post in the series, click here. To read the previous post, click here. To read the next post in this series, please check back next week. As always, you can subscribe to our blog to get new posts in your inbox.


Geraldine Haggard is the author of several books from our Kaleidoscope Collection. To download information sheets with key features about the Kaleidoscope Collection and Story World Real World series, which contain the books mentioned in this post, click the images below.



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Topics: Real World, Leveled Readers, Reading Activities, Kaleidoscope Collection, Kindergarten, Geraldine Haggard, Science, Creative Activities

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