Connecting to a Mentor Text:
Reading: I Was Walking Down The Road
by Sarah E. Barchas and Jack Kent. This is a wonderful predictable rhyming tale that my students always adore. The repetitive language pattern has rhythm and cadence, and the illustrations are engaging and humorous. Children can read this book early on in the school year. If you have a big book version of this story, it’s ideal for shared reading.
Talking: This lesson is appropriate the first half of the school year once the students have learned all the letter sounds and symbols, but I do it in the spring to coincide with a unit on insects.
1. We begin by reading “I Was Walking Down the Road,” enjoying the predictable language pattern and rhythm in the short repetitive sentences. On the second reading the children can easily jump in with the rhymes and with… “I caught it. I picked it up. I put it in a cage.”
2. We discuss and clap the rhythm of the words in the story, at first focusing only on the predictable sentences… “I caught it. I picked it up. I put it in a cage.”
3. Later we focus on the rhythm of the rhyming sentences (i.e., I was walking down the road. Then I saw a little toad.) We practice reciting the sentences choppy in order to easily hear & feel the beats. We make this fun by adding marching around the room while tapping the rhythm. Then we say the sentences smoothly, as we would normally speak them, to practice sentence fluency, but continue to tap the beat. We identify words with one and two syllables.
4. We decide to make our own class book using this same language pattern with its engaging rhythm. We count the beats in the rhyming sentences and notice each line has seven beats. We must follow this pattern.
5. We brainstorm a list of insects and then try our best to come up with rhymes for a few. The rule is we must use different insects than the author uses in her story.