The Very First Americans by Cara Ashrose

Theme: Nonfiction Read Alouds

Strategy: Activating Prior Knowledge

Recommended Grades: 3-6th grade

The Very First Americans is a great book to showcase the differences between the different Native American tribes of North America.  A great resource to compare tribes; specifically their homes, art, clothing, and tools.

Lesson Idea: Prior to reading aloud this text or parts of it, ask students what they already know about Native Americans in general.  List responses on chart paper.  Then, pass out one sticky note to each student.  Ask students to write a question they still have about the topic on the sticky note.  Download a Sticky Questions graphic organizer.  Create a classroom size copy of the organizer to use when modeling this lesson.  Have students sort the questions based on common themes that arise and label the themes on the graphic organizer.  Think aloud while reading aloud the book to students.  As you locate answers to student questions, note them in the Discoveries column of the organizer.  After using the graphic organizer in whole class and guided reading sessions, provide opportunities for students to use it to activate prior knowledge independently.

Content Connections: The Very First Americans is a great book to connect to social studies units about Native Americans.

©2010 by Dawn Little for Picture This! Teaching with Picture Books. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Verdi by Janell Cannon and Time for Kids: Snakes by Editors of Time for Kids

A cute story about a snake who doesn’t want to grow up, but learns a valuable lesson about staying true to himself.

A nonfiction text about snakes.

Twin Texts
Cannon beautifully writes and illustrates this tale of a carefree snake who learns to love himself despite the fact that he has to grow up. Even though he must age, he does not have to lose the fun-loving, figure-eight forming side of his personality. Lesson Idea: If snakes or animals is a topic of study in your classroom, or if you are trying to find something to interest boys, Twin Texts is a great strategy. Choose a fiction and nonfiction text that complement each other. In this case, Time for Kids: Snakes is a great complement to Verdi. Read the first page which describes Verdi being sent off into the jungle by his mother. She wants her hatchlings to grow up big and green, but Verdi is resisting this idea. He likes his yellow skin and bold stripes. After reading the first page ask, “What more do you want to learn about Verdi?” Have your students list all that they want to learn about Verdi. Discuss. Read aloud the text and see if students wonderments were answered. Similarly, prior to reading Time for Kids: Snakes, have your students complete the K and W of a KWL. Read aloud the text (or have students independently read) and then have students complete the L. These two activities together should provide students with the ability to activate their prior knowledge and come to a deeper understanding of the topic of snakes.