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HomeClassroom ResourcesLesson Plans

Lesson Plan

Building a Matrix for Leo Lionni Books: An Author Study

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Building a Matrix for Leo Lionni Books: An Author Study

Grades K – 2
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Five 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Renee Goularte

Renee Goularte

Magalia, California

Publisher

National Council of Teachers of English

 

Student Objectives

Session One: Inch by Inch

Session Two: Swimmy

Session Three: Frederick

Session Four: A Color of His Own

Session Five

Extensions

Student Assessment/Reflections

 

STUDENT OBJECTIVES

Students will

  • respond orally in group discussion to a series of texts by an author.

  • collaborate on drawings depicting information about setting, character, and plot.

  • identify patterns in setting, character, and plot.

  • compare the details of two stories of their choice.

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Session One: Inch by Inch

  1. Introduce students to the unit by showing them the matrix and explaining that they will be listening to the four books by Leo Lionni.

  2. If desired, tell students a few details of Lionni’s life and work, especially that Leo Lionni was an artist before he was a writer, and that he was very interested in art as a child. His first children’s book was Little Blue and Little Yellow, which was created orally one day when he told it to his grandchildren while traveling. He used torn paper from magazines to create the characters.

  3. Show students the four books they will be listening to, and explain that they will compare the books by identifying things that are alike and different among the books.

  4. Show students the cover of Inch by Inch and ask for predictions about the story. Introduce the book by explaining that it is a story of an inchworm who does a lot of measuring.

  5. Read the book aloud to students. While reading, model "thinking aloud" and questioning and predicting strategies.

  6. Elicit student reactions to the text. Ask questions about the character, setting, problem, solution, and ending. Make sure students can retell the main parts of the story, especially details which will go into the cells of the matrix.

  7. Move to the matrix. Ask students what animal is the main character in the story and what color it is. Write that information in the ‘character’ cell, and glue on the color photocopy of the inchworm or draw a simple picture of the inchworm.

  8. Explain to students that they will work together in small groups to work on pictures for the matrix, that each group will work on one drawing, and that you will do the writing for them on their drawings.

  9. Break students into four groups and assign one element to each group: setting, problem, solution, ending. Have all students (as a whole group) agree first to what happened in the story, especially the problem/solution relationship, before students join their groups to do their drawings.

  10. As students work, circulate and add sentences to their drawings with a black marker.

  11. As the groups finish, glue their drawings on to the matrix. When all cells are filled in, have groups talk about their drawings, and retell the story together by reading the sentences on the drawings.

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Session Two: Swimmy

  1. Gather students together, and show the group the cover of Swimmy. Ask for predictions about the story.

  2. Introduce the book by explaining that it is a story of a little fish who solves a big problem. Ask students again what they think might happen in the story.

  3. Read the book aloud to students. While reading, model "thinking aloud" and questioning and predicting strategies.

  4. Repeat the discussion and drawing process used in Session One.

  5. After retelling Swimmy by reviewing the drawings and sentences on the matrix, have students compare the two books read so far. Ask for similarities and differences of character and plot.

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Session Three: Frederick

  1. Gather students together, and show the group the cover of Frederick. Ask if students can make any predictions about the story.

  2. When all predictions have been given, introduce the book Frederick by explaining that it is a story of a mouse who does something special for his friends.

  3. Read the book aloud to students. While reading, model "thinking aloud" and questioning and predicting strategies.

  4. Repeat the discussion and drawing process used in Session One.

  5. After retelling Frederick by reviewing the drawings and sentences on the matrix, have students compare the book to either of the books read so far. Ask for similarities and differences of character and plot.

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Session Four: A Color of His Own

  1. Gather students together, and show the group the book cover and ask if students can make any predictions about the story.

  2. When all responses have been given, introduce the book A Color of His Own by explaining that it is a story of a chameleon who is unhappy with his color.

  3. Read the book aloud to students. While reading, model "thinking aloud" and questioning and predicting strategies.

  4. Repeat the discussion and drawing process used in Session One.

  5. After retelling A Color of His Own by reviewing the drawings and sentences on the matrix, have students compare the book to any of the books read so far. Ask for similarities and differences of character and plot.

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Session Five

  1. Review the matrix, and retell each story by reading the sentences on the students’ drawings.

  2. In a whole group discussion, have students make any comparisons of the books.

  3. Have students respond to the question, "Is there anything that is the same about ALL of Leo Lionni’s characters?"

  4. Explain to students that they will be comparing any two of the Leo Lionni books. Have students work with partners or in small groups to discuss two books of their choice, naming similarities and differences. Use the Interactive Venn Diagram to record and print out students’ information (an adult helper or two would be beneficial for this part of the lesson).

  5. As the adult helper works with students, he or she should keep in mind that the Venn Diagram should show comparisons of the following: main characters, character relationships, plot, main events of the stories, and story details. While working with the children, the parent should ask questions as needed and help students include them in the appropriate place on the Venn Diagram. Sample questions might be as follows:

    • What is the same about these two characters? What is different?

    • Where do these stories take place? Where do they happen?

    • How do the main characters (use the names) act with the other characters?

    • What is one of the main things that happens in each story? Are they the same?

    • What problems do these two main characters have? Are they the same or different?

    • What other things happen in the stories that are the same?

    • What other things happen in the stories that are different?
  6. Print a copy of the Venn Diagram for each group member.

  7. When all students have finished recording their information, or while they are waiting to have it recorded for them, have them draw comparison pictures of the two main characters of the books they chose. Use a full sheet of construction paper for each student, folded in half and then unfolded so that one character can be drawn in each half. Have students write something about each character on their drawings. If students need help, do the writing for them.

  8. Attach students’ Venn Diagram printouts to the bottom of the drawings and display the work.

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EXTENSIONS

  • Use the book list at Random House's Leo Lionni Author's Page. Have students use the pictures on the screen to find other Leo Lionni books in the classroom.

  • Gather more Leo Lionni books and encourage students to make more comparisons.

  • Read other children’s mouse stories on Random House's Leo Lionni Author's Page. Use these stories as inspiration to write stories using one of Leo Lionni’s characters.

  • Put the school of fish back together at the Swimmy interactive Website.

  • Make fish prints, and write your own fish story.

  • Make torn paper mice, and write your own mouse story.

  • Have each student choose a favorite book, and write a book review of the book with an illustration of his or her favorite part. If desired, use the Book Cover Creator to highlight the favorite part on a new book cover or dust jacket.

  • Prepare and make copies of literature response sheets headed with "My favorite Leo Lionni book is _______________ because ___________________." Have students write and draw about their favorite Leo Lionni book on the literature response sheet.

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STUDENT ASSESSMENT/REFLECTIONS

  • Monitor student progress during the lesson and as students work independently through anecdotal notetaking and kidwatching.

  • As students retell their stories, listen for details and references to the literary elements that have been explored (character, etc.).

  • Check the Venn Diagrams for the following:
    Main Characters
    The student should list at least one similiarity and one difference in the main characters.

    Character Relationships
    The student should include at least one reference to the main character’s relationship with other characters for each book, whether the relationship is a similarity or there is a difference.

    Plots and Events
    The student should list at least two main events in the stories which are similar or different.

    Details
    The student should list at least two details which are similar or different in the two stories. These could be details of setting, illustration, plot structure, problem/solution, or ending of the story.

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