Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

4 Literacy Skills to Practice in a Pet Theme

By Nancy Brekke, Reading Interventionist, Guest Blogger

Kids love to read about pets, and this means organizing guided reading lesson plans around the theme of pets can be fun and easy! Students who have personal experience with pets will be eager to share their background knowledge, which will help them make real-world connections while they practice a range of literacy skills. Keep reading for steps to use leveled books and fun activities to improve vocabulary and practice sequencing, recounting, and inferring!

Broadening Children's Vocabulary

Introduce your students to the wordless book Pets by showing the cover. Point to the title and read it aloud. Then ask the class to help you make a list of all the pets that they can think of by writing their responses on chart paper.

Next, explain what the word vocabulary means. Then provide details about the types of words that they will be learning about by saying the following: Today you'll be learning about nouns. A noun is a person, place, or thing. Pets are things. (Bring their attention to the list of pets the students brainstormed.) We are also going to talk about words that describe or tell more about nouns. These are called adjectives, and they can describe the size, shape, and color of a noun.

As you show the cover of Pets , ask students which adjectives describe what the dog looks like, such as soft, furry, tan, small, etc. This activity will be fun for your students and will increase their vocabulary at the same time.

Illustrating to Practice Sequencing

To help kids practice sequencing, show them the cover of the level A informational text What is Pet?  Then talk to kids about how sequencing helps build comprehension: We are going to use this book to help us understand what we read. Another word that means to understand is comprehend; understanding what we read is called reading comprehension. One way to help us comprehend a book is to understand the order it talks about things. This is called sequencing.

Open the book to the second page, and ask the class which animal they see. Then have a student come up to the chart paper and draw a dog next to the word dog. Continue this activity with the rest of the pages in the nonfiction book for kids. After the book is finished, have students practice reading the list of pets on the chart paper together.

Practice Making Inferences

You can use the narrative text Max, Our School Dog to teach students how to make predictions and use critical thinking skills. After reading the book together, ask students to reread page 8, and ask: Why do you think the children love Max? Have students work in groups to look back at the text and pictures to come up with their reasons.

Get Physical While Recounting

Taking Care of Rabbits is a guided reading book that helps kids practice the comprehension strategy of recounting. Take a quick survey with a show of thumbs of students who think it would be fun to have a rabbit for a pet. Read up to the fourth page with the class and have them draw what this page tells them they would need. Follow this same procedure with the proceeding pages of the leveled book.

Once they've finished reading and illustrating, have students work with a partner to tell each other what they would need to have a pet rabbit. Conclude the lesson with this question: After finding out how many things rabbits need, do you still think you’d like to have a pet rabbit? Hop around the room like a rabbit if you would!

Using children's books about pets will not only increase your students’ love of reading, but they will also help kids develop critical literacy strategies that they can use every time they read. Stay tuned for more helpful ways to use leveled readers for different content areas.

Nancy has taught grades 1–6, ESL students, and Reading Recovery. She is also a Reading Interventionist and an author of several titles in our Kaleidoscope Collection .