Language Arts Lesson Addressing Benchmark 2.B.ECa

Ms. Jones has read aloud Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Erik Litwin several times at large-group time. The book tells the story of a cat whose new white shoes change color as he steps in different types of messes. The book uses repetitive phrases and songs.

Large-group read aloud

Ms. Jones has also placed a copy of Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes in the story area of the classroom so the children can read it independently and with peers.

Ms. Jones and her teaching assistant, Ms. Hernández, develop a small-group activity related to shoes and to Pete the Cat so the children can practice beginning language arts concepts and demonstrate their ability to “ask and answer questions about books read aloud.”

Ms. Jones has read aloud many books at group time so the children are aware of the meaning of print and how books are used. Felt board activities have also been used in the classroom before this lesson.

We will show how Ms. Jones and Ms. Hernández walk through the process of designing this activity while integrating the targeted benchmark.

About the Classroom

Ms. Jones and her teaching assistant (TA), Ms. Hernández, are responsible for developing learning activities that meet the needs of diverse learners and address the Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards (IELDS). Ms. Jones knows most children in her class will meet the standards and benchmarks. However, she will have to make adaptations for those children who need more individualized instruction.

Ms. Jones is the state-licensed head teacher in a monolingual classroom of 15 children with diverse ages (3–5 years old) and learning needs. There are 10 typically developing children with age-appropriate skills and behaviors in the class. These children act as peer models for the remaining children in the class. Three children, Raúl, Luis, and Esther, are dual language learners whose home language is Spanish. They started school with little understanding of English. Ms. Jones’ TA, Ms. Hernández, is bilingual and uses both Spanish and English in the classroom. Two children, Joey and Hailey, have special needs requiring an individual education program (IEP). Joey has significant speech delays and is learning to use an adaptive and augmentative communication (AAC) device. Hailey has cerebral palsy (CP) resulting in significant motor delays, especially on the left side of her body. She uses a wheelchair for mobility. On occasion, some children exhibit challenging behavior during small group lessons. Ms. Jones would like to implement strategies to address challenging behavior in the classroom.

In Ms. Jones’ classroom, the children are working on an ongoing project about shoe stores. They have the dramatic play areas of the classroom set up as the Shoe Store, with a cash register, money, bench, shoes, shoe boxes, and shopping bags. Children often use pennies in the Shoe Store to “buy” shoes, which have been labeled with prices such as “2.”

Ms. Jones’ district uses a state-approved developmentally appropriate curriculum. Ms. Jones and Ms. Hernández perform universal screenings three times per school year (fall, winter, spring) for preschool children.

Lesson Activity

Small group read-aloud of Pete the Cat accompanied by a felt-board activity. Children move colored shoes to a felt board, as described in the story. This is a 10- to 12-minute activity.

Materials

  • Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes
  • Felt board
  • Felt cut-outs: one cat and a set of four felt pieces each for brown, white, red, and blue shoes

This lesson addresses a primary benchmark. A secondary benchmark is included to offer ideas for addressing an additional benchmark within one lesson. Teachers are encouraged to be creative in thinking of ways to address multiple benchmarks within one lesson.

Felt board supplies

Note:

The felt pieces for shoes are created using one piece of felt for the front “pair” and one piece of felt for the back “pair” of shoes for the cat. Felt shoes are labeled with color words in English and Spanish.

Step 1

Primary Benchmark

Language Arts
2.B.ECa: With teacher assistance, ask and answer questions about books read aloud.

To introduce the small-group activity, Ms. Jones models the activity during large-group time. As she reads the story of Pete, the cat, she places corresponding colored shoes on the felt cutout of Pete as his shoes change color during the story.


Note:

Although the felt board activity does not address the benchmark directly, it is included in this lesson because it is an important visual strategy that can help children remain engaged with the plot of the story.

Step 2

Primary Benchmark

Language Arts
2.B.ECa: With teacher assistance, ask and answer questions about books read aloud.

While still at large group, for the last verse of the story, Ms. Jones chooses a child to demonstrate putting the correct color of shoes on the felt board.

Secondary Benchmark

Social/emotional Development
31.A.ECb: Recognize the feelings and perspectives of others.

When child places the correct color of shoes on the felt board, Ms. Jones says, “Let’s show our friend that we are proud of his work by giving him a thumbs up!” Children participate by showing a thumbs up.

Step 3

Primary Benchmark

Language Arts
2.B.ECa: With teacher assistance, ask and answer questions about books read aloud.

Ms. Jones dismisses children to centers. One of the centers is the felt board activity at a table. Ms. Hernández leads this center. The table has the book, a felt board with the cat on it, and colored felt cutouts of shoes on a tray.

Step 4

Primary Benchmark

Language Arts
2.B.ECa: With teacher assistance, ask and answer questions about books read aloud.

Ms. Hernández reads aloud the story and asks questions as she goes.

Ms. Hernández: “What color shoes is Pete wearing?”

José: “White.” (José may hold up the white shoe instead of replying verbally.)

Ms. Hernández: “How does Pete feel when his shoes turn red in the strawberries?”

Alicia: “Happy.”

Ms. Hernández: “What happens next?”

Bobby: “Pete steps in blueberries.”

Ms. Hernández: “What color do his shoes turn into when he steps in blueberries?”

Bobby: “Blue.”

Ms. Hernández: “What would you do if your shoes changed color?”

Lily: “I would clean them with soap and water.”

Secondary Benchmark

Social/emotional Development
31.A.ECb: Recognize the feelings and perspectives of others.

This question and answer exchange demonstrates how Ms. Hernández could address the feelings of the main character:

Ms. Hernández: “How does Pete feel when his shoes turn red in the strawberries?”

Alicia: “Happy.”

This question and answer exchange demonstrates how Ms. Hernández could address perspective-taking of the main character (i.e., Ms. Hernández encourages children to consider Pete’s point of view):

Ms. Hernández: “What would you do if you were Pete and your shoes changed color?”

Lily: “I would clean them with soap and water.”

Step 5

Primary Benchmark

Language Arts
2.B.ECa: With teacher assistance, ask and answer questions about books read aloud.

As Ms. Hernández reads the story and leads a discussion, the children take turns placing the corresponding colors of shoes on the felt cat.

Step 6

Primary Benchmark

Language Arts
2.B.ECa: With teacher assistance, ask and answer questions about books read aloud.

Ms. Hernández prompts the children to initiate questions about the book after she reads the story and leads the activity.

Ms. Hernández: “Whenever I need to know something, I can ask a question. Since this book was about a cat, I wanted to know more about who in our class has a cat in their home. I could ask a friend, ‘Do you have a cat like Pete?’ Let’s try asking our friends a question about the book. Raúl, you can go first. Ask Hailey.”

Raúl: “Do you have white shoes?”

Hailey: “No, my shoes are brown.”

Children continue to ask each other questions. Ms. Hernández provides encouragement and assistance when necessary.

Step 7

Primary Benchmark

Language Arts
2.B.ECa: With teacher assistance, ask and answer questions about books read aloud.

This center activity is available for children to return to throughout the week so they have the opportunity to experience continued success in the activity.

Monitoring Progress

Throughout the small-group lessons, Ms. Hernández collects anecdotal observations of the children answering and asking questions. She writes down the quotes to include in their portfolios. Ms. Hernández shares the data with Ms. Jones. As children demonstrate success with the activity, Ms. Jones documents that they are meeting the benchmark. When children experience difficulties answering and asking questions, Ms. Jones plans additional lessons targeting this benchmark.

Ideas to Extend Children's Learning

This small-group lesson provides each child with multiple turns to practice meaningful question-and-answer dialogue. During other parts of the day, Ms. Jones creates additional opportunities for children to practice relevant questioning and answering (e.g., at snack time she asks “Would you like bananas or crackers for snack today?”).

Ms. Jones thinks of other books that can be used for small-group felt board activities to facilitate question-and-answer dialogue. These include:

  • Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems (felt board cutouts: bunny, girl, locations)
  • Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh (felt board cutouts: mice, paint colors)
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (felt board cutouts: caterpillar, food items)

Individual Adaptations for Children in Your Classroom

This lesson was written in the context of Ms. Jones’ preschool classroom. We now offer some general suggestions for adaptations that you can use in your own classroom.

Individual adaptations for a young 3-year-old

Child characteristics

Child can successfully respond to basic comprehension questions (e.g., “What color are Pete’s shoes?”) but is not yet able to answer application questions (e.g., “What would you do if your shoes changed color?”).

Teacher action

Teacher differentiates instruction by asking only basic comprehension questions to this younger child. Child has the opportunity to observe higher level questions and answers from older children in the class. The teacher presents application questions later in the school year, when this child has been exposed to more models of higher order questioning.

Individual adaptations for an English-language learner

Child characteristics

Child speaks Spanish at home and knows words for colors in Spanish but not in English.

Teacher action

Teacher models color words in both Spanish and English during the felt board activity (e.g., “Here are Pete’s red shoes. Red, rojo—zapatos rojo—red shoes.”).

Individual adaptations for a child requiring mobility supports

Child characteristics

Child uses a wheelchair and has no use of her left hand but some use of her right hand.

Teacher action

Teacher uses strategies to support child’s motor abilities. While at small group, teacher places the felt shoes near the child’s right hand and stabilizes the felt board so the child can successfully place the felt on the board.

Adult stabilizing a felt board

Individual adaptations for a child requiring mobility supports

Child characteristics

Child has significant language delays and uses an AAC device to communicate. This can be programmed with up to four words and images at a time.

Teacher action

  • AAC device option: Teacher programs the AAC device with words and icons for the four main colors depicted in the book. Using the AAC device, the child participates in answering simple questions (e.g., “What color shoes is Pete wearing on this page?”).
  • Low-tech option: Teacher provides a laminated card with 10 icons (words and pictures) of vocabulary related to the lesson (red, blue, brown, white, strawberries, blueberries, mud, wet, Pete, cat). The child can point to the icons on the card to participate in the conversation. Other children in the group can use the cards as visual prompts to include more details in their responses.

Individual adaptations for a child exhibiting challenging behavior

AAC device with icons


Child characteristics

When the child is not fully engaged in an activity, the child may hit others. (This often occurs when other children are taking their turn to talk or participate and this child is waiting for a turn.)

Teacher action

Instead of using only one large felt board during the small-group activity, the teacher provides each child with a small felt board. Children do the activity together working on their own boards. This reduces wait time and enables the child and his peers to be fully engaged during the small-group activity.

Teacher creates a visual support card for this child, taped to his table area. It instructs the child to demonstrate the following appropriate behaviors while waiting for a turn: (1) feet on the floor, (2) hands in lap, (3) quiet mouth, and (4) eyes on the speaker. The teacher refers to this visual support during small-group time to remind the child of appropriate behavior.

Individual felt board
Visual support for directions

Note:

In the interest of providing inclusive supports and because these behavior guidelines apply to all children in the class, the teacher should provide everyone at the group with a reminder card.

Acknowledgements

This lesson plan was supported, in part, by a leadership grant from the Office of Special Education Programs (Project BLEND, h425D110037) and a grant from the Illinois State Board of Education for the Illinois Early Learning Project at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (D6548). Opinions reflect those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the granting agencies.