Standard Lesson

Whose Shoes? Using Artifacts to Teach Reading and Rhyming Patterns

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Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
Three 30- to 40-minute sessions
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A good way to engage students in active learning is to have them analyze artifacts related to current units of study. In this lesson, first- and second-grade students analyze an artifact (a shoe), respond to questions about the artifact, read and listen to related literature, and use appropriate social skills to discuss what they learn. The class reads several rhyming texts about the artifact topic, and students practice making rhyming words. Throughout the lesson, questioning is used to engage, teach, and assess students.

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

This article reports on studies in reading that looked at effective instructional practices in various grades and circumstances. Among their findings was the observation that teaching practices such as "higher level questioning, style of interacting, and encouraging active pupil involvement, may be warranted."

Allington identifies six key elements of effective reading instruction (time, texts, teaching, talk, tasks, and testing) and explains the importance of each in helping students become fluent readers.

Juel and Deffes discuss the importance of helping students develop rich vocabularies. A study of shoes provides a wonderful opportunity to help students overcome "word poverty."

Roskos, Christie, and Richgels describe eight strategies essential for early literacy instruction and report on the growing body of research to support the development of literacy skills in young children. It is their conclusion that attention to literacy development in young children forms a basis for later successful reading achievement.

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

  • 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
  • 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).
  • 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • 8. Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
  • 9. Students develop an understanding of and respect for diversity in language use, patterns, and dialects across cultures, ethnic groups, geographic regions, and social roles.
  • 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
  • 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Materials and Technology

  • Computers with Internet access

  • LCD projector (optional)

  • Burner covers or other metal trays

  • Chart paper

  • Magnetic letters

  • Whiteboard easel and markers

  • A shoe or boot




1. Choose an artifact for students to analyze. It is most effective to use an actual object, although replicas and miniatures can achieve the same results. If an artifact is not available, then a photograph or drawing can be used. This lesson is developed using a shoe because shoes reflect a variety of things about a given culture. Shoes can help students understand the climate of a place, whether the wearer was rich or poor, and sometimes the kind of job the wearer did. Students can also learn that shoes are sometimes worn for protection and sometimes as decoration. Shoes are also readily available. Additional Shoe Resources for Teachers provides books and websites that have images of shoes and information about their history.

The shoe or boot you choose should relate to a current unit of study or be an interesting shoe in some way (e.g., because of its style, how it is made, or its use). For example, in many schools the primary grade social studies curriculum includes a study of community workers. As students learn about the services these workers perform for their community, it would extend their learning to have them analyze a specialized shoe worn by one of these workers.

2. Print out and familiarize yourself with the Artifact Analysis Questions. You may want to print these on a transparency or chart paper to share with students during Session 1. Make copies of the questions for each student in your class.

3. Break students into groups for guided reading (see Session 2). Guided reading groups should

  • Be small (three to six students)

  • Be temporary

  • Be designed to accommodate the different learning needs and styles of students

  • Allow you to support individuals

  • Provide group support

  • Sustain a reading community
Homogeneous groups work well for this lesson because they will allow you to be attentive to the needs of English-language learner (ELL), struggling, and other special-needs students. For example, ELL students may need additional time developing the concept of rhyming words by hearing you pronounce the words and provide additional examples. By carefully observing students and analyzing assessment, you can form groups with similar instructional needs.

4. Obtain and familiarize yourself with Shoe Shoe Baby by Bernard Lodge. This text will be used as a read-aloud during Session 1.

5. Obtain and familiarize yourself with Shoes by Elizabeth Winthrop. You will need copies for each student in the guided reading group. If you are using a different artifact, you will want to find a rhyming text that addresses the topic directly or indirectly.

6. Read "Ode to Pablo's Tennis Shoes" by Gary Soto. This poem can also be found in the book Neighborhood Odes (Harcourt, 1992). You may want to copy the poem on chart paper or a transparency for use during Session 3 (Step 2).

7. Have a whiteboard easel and marker ready to use with the guided reading group. Each student in the group should have a metal burner cover or other tray and a set of magnetic letters (use lower-case letters). You should have letters to spell out all of the rhyming words in the text you use in Session 2. The book used in this lesson contains the following rhyming pairs:

tie/high bows/snows
sliding/riding fall/all
tight/night racing/lacing
wishing/squishing blister/sister

Provide additional letters that will allow students to create a third rhyming word for each pair (e.g., tight/night/bite or sliding/riding/hiding). Focus on the rhyming sounds not the spelling patterns unless students are more advanced. For struggling and ELL students, provide only letters that will work. For others, additional letters will make the activity more challenging.

8. Gather a collection of books related to the artifact you have chosen. You may want multiple copies of some of the books so that students can read them in groups while you work with the guided reading group. Additional Shoe Resources for Students lists a number of books having to do with shoes.

9. Make a K-W-L chart on chart paper or a transparency titled How People Make Sneakers for Session 3. The chart should have three columns, titled What I Know, What I Want to Know, and What I Learned.

10. If you do not have classroom computers with Internet access, arrange one 20-minute session in your school's computer lab (see Session 3). Visit Mister Rogers: How People Make Sneakers and make sure you can view and listen to the video on the computers students will be using. Alternatively, you might use an LCD projector to show the video to students.

Student Objectives

Students will

  • Practice inferring by examining an artifact and determining its special qualities, uses, and what it tells them about the wearer

  • Practice making connections, visualizing, and asking questions to make sense of a text

  • Confirm and extend their understanding of rhyming words by identifying them in a text and then adding letters to make their own rhyming pairs

  • Apply observational skills to describe different kinds of shoes in several texts about shoes

Session 1: Analyze an Artifact and Read Aloud

1. Introduce the lesson by telling students that they will look carefully at, talk about, and read about something that people wear everyday. These objects are used today and were used long ago. You might also tell students that these objects come in many sizes, are made from many different materials, and can be used for different purposes.

2. Show students the shoe or boot and pass it around so that each student can examine it. Using the Artifact Analysis Questions as a guide, have students consider the attributes of the shoe and what the attributes tell students about the object. You may choose to write students' responses to the questions on a sheet of chart paper or the transparency you created.

Note: You should monitor the discussion, making sure that all students are involved and the discussion remains focused. Five to ten minutes should be ample time for this analysis and discussion.

3. After the artifact analysis, introduce Shoe Shoe Baby by Bernard Lodge. Tell students you will read aloud a book that takes a funny look at many kinds of shoes that people wear and why they need such special shoes.

4. Read the book aloud to students. When you are finished reading, talk about why each character wanted such special shoes. Help students recognize that each shoe was related to the specific needs of the wearer.

5. Conclude by having students describe what they think is important about the artifact shoe. Relate these attributes to the unit topic you are studying as appropriate.

Session 2: Guided Reading Using Rhyming Words

Note: For the guided reading, you will work with one group of students at a time. It may take several sessions for every student in the class to participate.

1. Have students get into the groups you have assigned (see Preparation, Step 3). Distribute the books you have collected and copies of the Artifact Analysis Questions. While you work with one group on guided reading, the remaining students should read independently. Set a purpose for the independent reading by asking students to find a shoe in their books to analyze. It might be a type of shoe they have never seen before or it might simply be a shoe they have seen often but never thought much about. They should read about that shoe, apply the questions that they answered about the artifact during Session 1, and be prepared to discuss them with a partner.

2. Gather the guided reading group at the reading work area. Show them Shoes by Elizabeth Winthrop and tell students they will work with this book. First, they will look at the book together. Next, they will silently read the book. And finally, they will work with some of the words in the book. At the end of the guided reading lesson, students can take the book to their desks to enjoy again.

3. Show the front cover to students and ask students to name the title, author, and illustrator. Help them with the names and ask them to tell what an author and an illustrator do. Have students focus on the cover illustration. Students can use the title and the illustration to predict what the book is about. Move on to the title page and have students briefly share what additional information they learn about the book on this page. Complete a picture walk of the book allowing students to make connections to the special qualities of some of the shoes, the uses of the shoes, and what the shoes tell about the wearers. You might refer to the Artifact Analysis Questions. Steps 2 and 3 should take about five minutes.

4. Engage students in silently reading the book. You may wish to tell students there is a surprise at the end of the book, or wait for their reaction. Note: The illustrations in this text heavily support the text so that students reading at Levels 2 and 3 should be able to read fluently. While students are reading silently you may want to do a running record with some of them.

5. When all of the students have finished reading the book, ask them what they learned about shoes. Students should be able to discuss the different kinds of shoes presented in the text. Ask students if they agree with the text that their own feet are the best.

6. Next, introduce the word work part of the lesson by telling students that as you read the book you noticed something special about some of the words and perhaps they did too. You might name two of the rhyming words to give students a clue. Give them a moment to think and look through the book. If they do not make the connection, tell them that you found words that sound alike at the end-they rhyme.

7. Suggest that students scan the text to find rhyming words. As students name the rhymes, write them on chart paper and have students read the rhyming words aloud.

8. Give each student a burner cover or metal tray and a set of magnetic letters. Choose one of the rhyming pairs and have students think of a new rhyming word. Illustrate by writing one of the pairs of words on the whiteboard and work with students in making a third rhyming word.

9. Have students select another rhyming pair and make those words on their burner base cover. Then have students work to independently create a third rhyming word.

10. Once students have demonstrated the ability to produce a third rhyming word, they can be excused to reread the text. Provide needed support to individual students and record each student's achievement.

11. When you have worked with every group, end the session by having students work with a partner. Student should tell their partners about the shoe they decided to examine. You may ask one or two students to share their new shoe knowledge with the class.

Session 3: Using Poetry and a Video to Explore the Artifact Further

1. Show students the shoe you looked at during Session 1. Remind them of the questions you answered and explain that you want to apply the same questions to a shoe in a poem you will read to them

2. Read aloud "Ode to Pablo's Tennis Shoes" by Gary Soto. One way to use this poem is to copy it on chart paper or a transparency and display it while you read aloud. As students listen and think about the poem, you can use questioning to aid their understanding. You could begin by posing your own questions and then ask students for their questions. Help students think not only of literal questions but also thoughtful inferences about Pablo, the subject, and Gary Soto, the poet.

3. Reread the poem, pausing to note details about the shoes. Have students note the special qualities and what the tennis shoes tell them about Pablo and his day. Use the Artifact Analysis Questions as a guide. Ask them how it is different to try and answer these questions when they cannot actually see the shoe, but only hear about it.

4. Ask students to take a look at their shoes-how many of them are wearing sneakers? Talk about where and how they think the sneakers are made.

5. Record on the K-W-L chart what students know and want to know about making sneakers (see Preparation, Step 9).

6. Share the video Mister Rogers: How People Make Sneakers. Ask students to pay attention to all of the steps needed to make sneakers.

7. Have students fill in the last column on the K-W-L chart. Once you have done this, talk to students about how they think their sneakers might be analyzed by someone in the future. Have them apply some of the Artifact Analysis Questions.


  • Have students further explore the Mister Rogers website, watching some of the other videos about how things are made.

  • Have students write about getting a new pair of shoes. What was exciting about it? What do they like about the shoes?

Student Assessment / Reflections


  • Appraise students’ participation in the artifact analysis session and during the discussion about the shoe in Gary Soto’s poem. Have students complete a Shoe Comparison Chart to see how well they are able to analyze an artifact.

  • Students should demonstrate an ability to make connections to the texts they read, use mental images to infer, and ask questions to promote understanding. Assess their abilities during the class discussion at the end of Sessions 2 and 3. Questions you might ask include:
    • Were students able to find shoes that were unfamiliar to them?

    • Were they able to answer the analysis questions and explain their answers?

    • Did they understand how sneakers were made?

    • How well were they able to connect this exploration of shoes to the artifact that you shared with them?
  • You may take a running record to analyze miscues and assess comprehension of the selected text during guided reading in Session 2.

  • Students should be able to reproduce at least one rhyming word based on rhyming words found in the selected text. Help students who are struggling by playing a rhyming game such as “I know a word that rhymes with…” or by having them match a set of rhyming-word pairs.

  • Assess student’s ability to use appropriate social skills such as taking turns and speaking respectfully during all of the sessions.


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