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Lesson Plan

Learning Vocabulary Down By the Bay

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Grades K – 1
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Six 30- to 40-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Melissa Weimer

Waterford, Michigan


International Literacy Association


Student Objectives

Session 1. Introduction to Song and Book

Session 2. Word Building

Session 3. Word Detectives

Session 4. Word Identification in Context

Session 5. Memory Game

Session 6. Writing and Illustrating


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • Sing a song that contains 32 words from the Dolch word list

  • Become familiar with concepts of print

  • Recognize and read high-frequency vocabulary words

  • Spell and write the vocabulary words

  • Comprehend the meanings of sentences from the song that use the vocabulary words

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Session 1. Introduction to Song and Book

1. Tell students they are going to learn to sing and read the words from a song.


Introduce the song by having the students guess the answer to the following riddle:

I'm thinking of something...

You can eat it.
It's a fruit.
It's green on the outside.
It has seeds on the inside. It begins with the letter
It's pink on the inside.

Answer = A watermelon

3. When students guess the answer, show them the picture of a watermelon.

4. Tell students that the song is about a body of water where watermelons can grow.

5. Have students brainstorm types of bodies of water. List their responses on chart paper.

6. If students do not come up with bay as a body of water, tell them that, "a bay is part of an ocean, lake, or similar body of water that forms an indentation in the shoreline." Show them the picture of a bay.

7. Tell students that the song they are going to sing is about watermelons that grow by a bay. The song is called "Down By the Bay."

8. Reveal that the song has also been made into a picture book. Show students the book Down By the Bay (Raffi Songs to Read) by Raffi.

9. Look at and discuss the illustration on the cover. Have students predict or guess what other things might be mentioned in the song by looking at the cover.

10. Sing the song "Down By the Bay" together with your students and have them follow along with the picture book. If you have an audio version of the song, play it for students to listen and then sing along. The song is available through the following resources:
  • The Singable Songs Collection by Raffi (CD/cassette) [Rounder/Pgd, 1997]

  • Wee Sing: 25th Anniversary Celebration (Price Stern Sloan, 2002)

If you are able to play the piano or guitar, notations are in the back of the book by Raffi.

11. Have students look again at the cover of the book and see what things in the illustration were mentioned in the song.

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Session 2. Word Building

Prepare for this session by cutting apart the letter squares on the word-building activity sheet. There are two sets of letters for this activity. Use one set for this session, and the other set on another day.

Each student in the class will need to receive one set of the letter squares to build some of the most frequently used words in the song "Down By the Bay." These words also appear on the Dolch word list and the word list for "Down By the Bay."

1. Review by having students sing the song and follow along with the picture book.

2. Have students name words they remember from the song. List these words on chart paper.

3. Tell students they are going to practice building some of the words from the song.

4. Pass out one set of the letter squares to each student. Have them spread the letters out in front of them.

5. Say one of the words listed for the set of letters you are using aloud (e.g., for) and either circle the word if it is already on the chart paper list or add it to the list.

6. Assist students in building the word by rearranging the letter squares in the correct order.

7. After students have placed the letter squares in the correct order, point to the word on the chart paper. Then, point to each letter in the word while saying it aloud. Say the word aloud again. For example, "f-o-r spells for."

8. Repeat steps 5–7 for each of the words in the set.

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Session 3. Word Detectives

For this session you will need copies of lyrics from children's songs that have some of the same Dolch words as "Down By the Bay." Five songs are provided and can be reproduced and distributed to students for this activity (see song lyrics). The five songs are: (1) "A Hunting We Will Go," (2) "Baby Bumblebee," (3) "Down By the Station," (4) "Have You Ever Been Fishing?," and (5) "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." Each song contains two pages. The first page contains the lyrics with the Dolch words from "Down By the Bay" highlighted for your reference. The second page contains plain text only, and is the page you should distribute to students.

1. Begin this session with a review of the song "Down By the Bay." Have students sing the song and follow along with the picture book.

2. Tell students that they are going to be "word detectives" and search for the words they have been learning in other songs.

3. Divide the class into small groups of four to five students each.

4. Distribute one song from the song lyrics sheets to each group, and make sure they have materials for writing. You will want to distribute the second page for each song with the lyrics only. The first page has the Dolch words highlighted and is for your reference.

5. Depending on the abilities of your students, assign one to five Dolch words from the "Down By the Bay" song to each group. You will want to choose Dolch words that appear within the song (as listed on the highlighted version of the song lyrics). Write these words on a sheet of paper as reference for each group.

6. Allow students to work together to locate the words from their list in the song they received. Have them circle or highlight the words as they locate them. Assorted colors could be used to identify the different words.

7. As a group, have students share the words they discovered.

8. Assist students as they read or sing their songs aloud to the rest of the class.

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Session 4. Word Identification in Context

For this session, you will need the Down by the Bay picture book by Raffi, a copy of the "Down By the Bay" sentences, a copy of the word cards cut apart, and writing materials.

1. Review by having students sing "Down By the Bay" and follow along with the picture book.

2. Show students the sentences from "Down By the Bay" that include many of the vocabulary words they have been learning.

3. Point to the individual words as you read the sentences aloud together with the students.

4. Select one of the word cards without showing it to your students. Say the word aloud and select one student to locate that word in the sentences.

5. Have the student circle the word as he or she finds it in the sentences. If a student has trouble finding the word without seeing it, show the word card.

6. Repeat steps 4–5 for the rest of the word cards, calling upon different students for each one.

7. Ask individual students to read aloud each of the sentences.

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Session 5. Memory Game

For this session, you will need to divide the class into groups of four to five students each. Each group will need two sets of the word cards cut apart. It is best to print the word cards on cardstock or glue them on index cards, so the words cannot be seen through the paper when the cards are turned upside down.

1. Review by having students sing the song "Down By the Bay" and follow along with the picture book.

2. Gather students into their groups to play a memory game.

3. Pass out two copies of the cut apart word cards to each group.

4. As students turn the cards over, they should say the words aloud.

5. When students get a match, they need to use the word in a sentence from the song.

6. Encourage students to assist one another in reading the words and recalling the sentences from the song.

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Session 6. Writing and Illustrating

1. Review by having students sing the song and follow along with the picture book.

2. Have each student select one of the verses from the song to write and illustrate.

3. Encourage students to write the words of the sentences from memory. For those who need more support, write the sentences for them to copy or have them copy sentences from the picture book.

4. Have students read their verses and share their illustrations with one another.

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Cross-Curricular Extensions

  • Phonological Awareness: Have students identify the rhyming words in the song: go/grow; bay/say; bear/hair; moose/goose; whale/tail; llama/pajama; fly/tie; time/rhyme. Students can try creating their own verses to the song by identifying pairs of rhyming words. They could then illustrate their new verses.

  • Punctuation: "Down By the Bay" uses several punctuation marks: period, comma, question mark, and quotation marks. Use the text of the song to learn how these punctuation marks are used.

  • Snack: Serve watermelon for a snack. Encourage students to describe the watermelon as they eat it. Descriptive words might include cold, juicy, pink on the inside, sweet, and so on.

  • Math: Save watermelon seeds to use for counting activities.

  • Science: Grow watermelons from seeds.

  • Health: Discuss where watermelon belongs in the food groups. Also talk about the benefits of eating watermelon as a healthy snack.

  • Social Studies: Study locations of bays in North America, (e.g., Hudson Bay, Green Bay, Thunder Bay, Grand Traverse Bay, Chesapeake Bay, Massachusetts Bay, San Francisco Bay, Tampa Bay, Delaware Bay).

  • Art: Have students create pictures of watermelons or bays.

  • Home Connection: Assign each student one to three Dolch words from the song "Down By the Bay" to locate in print materials at home, such as newspapers, catalogs, or magazines. Have students cut out the words they find and glue them on a sheet of paper. When they bring their work back to school, have them share the words they found with one another.

Additional Web Resources

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By means of anecdotal notes, teacher observation, and collecting students' work, you can assess each student's knowledge and understanding of the vocabulary words by his or her ability to:

  • Sing the lyrics of the song

  • Identify the words on the word cards

  • Read the vocabulary words and sentences from the song

  • Locate the vocabulary words in other forms of print

  • Spell the words during the word-building activity

  • Write the words when they write and illustrate a verse from the song

  • Demonstrate comprehension when they illustrate the meanings of verses from the song that use some of the vocabulary words

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