Standard Lesson

Shared Poetry Reading: Teaching Print Concepts, Rhyme, and Vocabulary

K - 2
Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
Six sessions
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Although phonological awareness is important for early reading comprehension, other skills are equally important as students develop their reading abilities. Designed to facilitate successful early reading for kindergarten students, this lesson teaches the acquisition of vocabulary, one-to-one matching, left-to-right directionality, and awareness of rhyme. Students study these important aspects of reading using a shared exploration of a poem that includes peer interaction, hands-on experience with print, and a collaborative examination of new and familiar words.

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From Theory to Practice

Studies show that although phonological awareness is critically important to word decoding, other language skills may become more influential as students learn to read. In fact, whether or not students can find meaning in printed words and their awareness of the print around them are greater predictors of reading comprehension in the first and second grades than phonological awareness. Vocabulary knowledge and print awareness are important factors in reading ability, both at the individual word level and for overall comprehension.

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  • 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
  • 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.

Materials and Technology

  • Chart paper
  • Computers with Internet access
  • Highlight tape
  • Highlighters
  • Pointer
  • White board with marker



1. It is important to break these activities into six sessions as shown in the Instructional Plan. Designate a comfortable meeting area in the classroom that will seat all students for group work.

2. Write the nursery rhyme "Kittens" (or another nursery rhyme you have chosen to use with your class) on a piece of chart paper so that all students will be able to see it. The poem you choose should have at least one unfamiliar word in it. (You might also choose "I Had a Little Pig.") You should make copies of the poem for each student in your class.

3. Choose a favorite kitten story (either a personal pet story of your own or another story you have read to students before). Be prepared to share this story with students (see Vocabulary, Step 3).

4. If you do not have computers with Internet access in your classroom, reserve a session in your school's computer lab (see the Technology session).

5. Visit and familiarize yourself with the Flip Book tool. You may want to arrange for older students who understand this tool to work one-on-one with your class during the Technology session. These can be your students' "technology buddies."

6. Read the poem you have chosen to your students at least once prior to the lesson so that they are familiar with it. Allow them time to tell what they like or find interesting about the nursery rhyme. Your goal is for students to be familiar with the text.

Student Objectives

Students will

  • Learn about important concepts of print including left-to-right directionality and one-to-one matching by talking about where they should begin reading a poem and watching spoken words matched to print during read-alouds of the poem

  • Demonstrate word recognition critical to reading comprehension by matching words to print as they are being read and by identifying familiar words in a poem

  • Demonstrate understanding of rhyming words by identifying and discussing them in a nursery rhyme and creating a list of words that rhyme with key rhyming words from the text

  • Practice acquiring and using new vocabulary by identifying an unfamiliar word, discussing it, and using it to create a predictable class book

Vocabulary and Background (20 minutes)

1. Show students the chart paper with the nursery rhyme "Kittens" written on it (see Preparation, Step 2).

2. Read the nursery rhyme to students. During this part of the session, students should be encouraged to make connections to their lives, other things they have read, or the world. Questions for discussion include:

  • Do any of you have a kitten or a cat?

  • What color is its nose?
3. Share the pet story you have chosen (see Preparation, Step 3). Ask students if they have had any similar experiences. Allow them time to discuss their own stories.

4. Tell students that there is a word in the nursery rhyme "Kittens" that may be unfamiliar; ask them if they can tell you what word it is. The word is slumber.

5. Tell students you think that you can figure out what slumber means together. Have them help you make a list of the kinds of things a kitten does. Write the list on a piece of chart paper. Some responses may include: play with string, chase birds, take naps, or climb trees or furniture.

6. When the list has several characteristics, including some version of sleeping, read through it for the class. Ask them if they have a guess as to which item on the list is a definition of slumber, working until they have selected the correct answer. Praise them for their list and correct response.

7. Ask students why it is important to sleep. Talk about the different kinds of slumber there are (e.g., naps, sleeping all night, hibernation). Use the word in a different context, for example: "The bear woke up from his deep winter slumber."

Print Concepts (20 minutes)

1. Gather students in the designated group meeting area. Tell them that you will be rereading "Kittens." Ask them what they remember about reading it before, and what it was about.

2. Show students the chart paper with the poem written on it (see Preparation, Step 2). Ask a student where you will start reading the nursery rhyme. (Have him or her come up and point to the proper place.) Then read the nursery rhyme aloud while you indicate the words with a pointer.

3. Ask a student to come up and point to the words in the nursery rhyme as the entire class reads it aloud chorally. The student you choose may either be one that understands one-to-one matching or one who does not. If you choose the latter, be sure to offer assistance by pointing with the student.

4. Ask students if they see any words they know. Any letters? Have individual students come up and point to the word or letter with a pointer. Have them tell you what it is. If a student incorrectly identifies a letter or word, praise the attempt and then show the correct letter or word in the poem if it is there. If not, use a white board to write the correct response.

5. Point to the words in the poem as you read through the poem one more time with the entire class.

Rhyme (20 minutes)

1. Ask students to read "Kittens" with you. Have one of the students proficient in one-to-one matching use a pointer to point as the class reads.

2. Ask students what they notice about the words day and play, as you highlight them with highlight tape. Responses might be: they rhyme, they sound alike, they look alike, or they have letters that are the same.

3. Reread the nursery rhyme together. Write day and play on a piece of chart paper. Have the class repeat the words a few times.

4. Ask them to try and think of other words that rhyme with these two, writing correct responses on the list and incorrect responses on a white board.

5. Reread the list several times; after every two new additions is a good estimate. Continue adding to the list until there are a handful of correct responses.

6. At this point in the session, one of the students may have already pointed out that call and all rhyme as well; however, if no one has, ask students if there are any other rhyming words. Read the poem an additional time if necessary.

7. Repeat Steps 4 and 5 with call and all.

Application (20 minutes)

1. Send students to their seats with copies of "Kittens."

2. Ask students to read it with you as they point to the words in their copies. Watch them while they are reading. If it is too difficult for some students, practice with them.

3. Ask students to circle the words that rhyme in their copies of the nursery rhyme.

4. Read "Kittens" aloud once again. Tell students to point to the words in their copies as you read.

Technology (30 to 40 minutes)

1. Gather your students in a computer lab or classroom computer area.

2. Ask students if they remember what new word they learned from the poem "Kittens." Tell them that they are going to work with the word slumber. They are going to make a class book, and everyone is going to make one page.

3. Explain that you are going to show them what you will write on your page. Put a piece of chart paper with the following sentence on it up for students to see: "Lazy [insert your name] slumbers all day long." Your name and the word slumbers should be highlighted somehow, perhaps by using a different color.

4. Read the sentence with students. Tell them that they are to make a page using the Flip Book tool. The page should use the same sentence, but they are to put their own names in it.

5. Students should work with their technology buddies to make the pages; if necessary, double students up on computers. The page labels should be student names. Students should type their sentences on the page. They should then decide with their buddies what format their pages will take, what colors they will be, and how they will illustrate them. Make sure students print their pages when they are done.

6. Gather the pages and read them to students. Later laminate and bind the pages to create a class book.

Discussion (time varies)

Discuss what students learned from this nursery rhyme. (You can do this either at their seats or in the group meeting area.) Questions for discussion might include:

  • What did you learn about words that rhyme?

  • What are some rhyming words that you remember?

  • Which way do you read?

  • What do you know about the word slumber?


  • Do these same exercises with other poems. Have students create poetry folders to hold individual poems you have read and discussed as a class. Ask student to use the vocabulary and rhyming words in these poems to write their own poetry.

  • A center activity may be to reread "Kittens" and allow students to discuss what they notice about it.

Student Assessment / Reflections

  • Observe students during class discussion. Do they know where to begin reading the poem and in what direction to read? Can they correctly identify words and letters that appear in the poem? Do they understand the idea of rhyme? Do they understand what slumber means? Are they able to use it correctly?

  • Observe students when they work individually. Are they able to point to the text in a way that matches what they are reading to the words? Take anecdotal notes about the evidence you find.

  • Collect and review students' copies of the nursery rhyme to see how well they identified rhyme. If students are having a difficult time with rhyme, you may try using picture cards to make rhyming matches. Or repeat the lesson with another nursery rhyme.

  • Look at students' illustrations in the class book—do they illustrate their sentences in a way that demonstrates comprehension?

  • Using the nursery rhyme Row, Row, Row Your Boat, assess your students' ability to practice one-to-one matching and to identify directionality, rhyming, and familiar and unfamiliar words. Test students individually. Read the nursery rhyme through one time to each student. Then read it a second time and ask the student to point to the text while you read (this will assess directionality and one-to-one matching). Once you have read it through, ask the student to find two words that rhyme. Then ask if he or she can find some familiar words and some unfamiliar words.

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