Make the most of story time with the children you teach. Create an engaging and literacy-building lesson plan for your Pre-K students around one of our favorite books: Parts by Tedd Arnold. First, watch read alouds of the book and see how you can tie the story into activities for your students.

Video: Parts, START Read 1

The first read focuses on explaining the key events of the story and pushing in target vocabulary.

Video: Parts, START Read 2

The second read focuses on the characters’ thoughts and feelings about the key events and continues to push in target vocabulary.

Tying it Together

Use these easy conversation starters to help support your students’ learning from this week’s book. Guide them with questions and support their answers by repeating back what they say and expanding on it, while encouraging use of the target vocabulary.

Target Vocabulary

Conversation Starters

Confused – Not sure what is going on The little boy in the story is so confused. He doesn’t know what is going on with his body! He has noticed that his hair is coming out, his tooth is loose, and his skin is peeling. Ask your students why the little boy thinks he is coming unstuffed.
Unfamiliar – it has never happened before/never had the experience The little boy didn’t know that children lose their teeth and grow new ones and that everyone’s hair falls out. He was unfamiliar with these things. No one had told him this happens. Ask your students why the little boy put tape around his body.
Appalled – surprised (not in a good way)/shocked The little boy is appalled. He is shocked! He thinks his skin is peeling off and his brain is falling out of his nose! Ask your students why the little boy’s eyes are so big and why he is sweating and clutching his body.


Tip: Tell your students a story about a time when you were confused about something. Explain that we all get confused sometimes and that we can ask questions. Model this by saying, “I am confused about how this stapler works – I am not sure how to open it and put the staples in it. I have never seen one like this before – it is unfamiliar.” Ask children questions during the week to engage them in meaningful conversations around these words. Be dramatic and use the word appalled to describe how you feel when you walk into a messy room. If children are shocked by something, ask them if they are appalled. The more you use these words in conversation, the sooner the words will become a part of your students’ vocabularies.

Paving the Way to Reading

Phonological Awareness: Word Awareness

We have been working for several weeks to support your students’ ability to hear that sentences are made up of separate words. Being able to notice the sounds of spoken language is directly linked to later reading success! Phonological awareness skills develop along a continuum, from larger to smaller units of sound. Word awareness is just the beginning!

Here is another activity that will help strengthen the concept of what a word is and that words make up sentences:

  1. Provide your students with small blocks, counting bears, or another small manipulative.
  2. Say a sentence using one-syllable words. For example: “John likes milk.” Model how to place one object for each word you say in the sentence, pausing between words. 
  3. Explain that there is one for each word you say and that there are spaces between the words.  
  4. Do this together with your students, encouraging them to say each word with you as you point to each object. 
  5. Once you feel that they understand the activity, it’s their turn to place one object for each spoken word in sentences. Use short sentences and build up to 2- and 3-syllable words.

Alphabet Knowledge

Children are easily motivated to learn the letters of their first name because their name is so important to them. Just like you did with the first letter of their name, describe what each of the following letters looks like, point to them around your classroom, have their families do the same at home, or have a scavenger hunt. Explain to students that these letters make up their name. They are very special letters! Remember that pointing to a letter that you name (recognizing) is easier for your students than naming it themselves.

Try this fun activity: If your name begins with an S, stand up, raise your hand, dance, stomp your feet, etc. Try this with your students for transitions throughout your day or share with your students’ families for them to practice at home!

Capacity Building: Last week, we shared a video of Cori explaining the TALK strategy and how we use this to have meaningful conversations with our students. The A in TALK is for Ask. In week two, we shared how open-ended questions allow children to think critically and express their own thoughts. This week, we dive even deeper with Using Questions Effectively.

Monitoring Your Students’ Progress

After hearing both read alouds, it is your students’ turn to tell the story, showing you what they’ve learned and allowing you to monitor their progress. Say to your students, “Remember the book we heard this week about the little boy and how he thought he was coming apart? Now that you know it so well, you get to tell the story! I wonder why the little boy thought he was falling apart. Let’s think about this as we talk about what happened in the story.” Make sure every student has the opportunity to participate in the conversation. If you can talk with your students individually, use that time to have students retell.

As your class talks about the story, ask them questions about what happened and how the character felt – this is your opportunity to have a conversation about the story. Talking about the little boy’s feelings helps children learn to take on the perspectives of others, building empathy, which helps with later reading comprehension. Prompt them with open-ended questions to discuss the story:    

  • Why did the little boy think he was falling apart? 
  • How did the little boy feel about what was happening to his body? 
  • Why did the little boy’s parents tell him there was nothing to fear?
  • Why were the little boy’s eyes so big, and why was he sweating and clutching his body?

The questions above are sophisticated questions that help children think deeply to understand complex ideas. Our goal this year is for children to be able to answer more and more sophisticated questions, but this can take time. Support them where they are by using developing or simple questions.

Example: If you ask your student, “Why are the little boy’s eyes so big, and why is he sweating and clutching his body?” and they respond by retelling the story without answering the question, try asking simpler questions using the recorded read on mute so they can see the illustrations. “What is happening here?” “Look at his face – what do you see?” “Is he happy or is he is appalled – shocked – that his teeth are coming out?” “Do you think he knew that children lose their baby teeth?” 

When you do this, you give your students confidence in their thoughts and help them to think deeply and critically, building comprehension skills necessary for later reading!

Paving the Way to Reading Check-In

Word Awareness

For the last several weeks, you have been working with your students to help them understand that sentences are made up of separate words. Next week, we will be moving to syllable awareness, but let’s first monitor where your students are with word awareness.

Here is an easy assessment to help you gauge where your students are with word awareness: Assessing Children’s Progress – WORD AWARENESS.

Were your students able to segment all the sentences, or just the single syllable ones? Use this information to continue supporting your class in the needed area(s). Even if all your students haven’t mastered this skill yet, you can still move forward with us next week. Remember to loop back occasionally and review these skills, even if your class has mastered them. Repetition is key to deeper understanding.

Alphabet Knowledge

Continue to have fun with your students recognizing and naming the letters of their first name. Their name is very important and being able to recognize it makes them proud! 

Play a sorting game – you can write the letters on paper and cut them out (or use manipulatives you already have) and let your children sort out all the letters of their names – all the M’s, all the A’s, all the R’s and all the Y’s. Talk about each letter. Remember letter orientation when playing this game.

Paving the way to reading takes time. We will continue to build on these skills, and by the end of the school year, your students will have a whole new skill set geared toward supporting their journey to reading.