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Teaching Strategies and Examples: Teaching Vocabulary Using Storybooks

Critical Design Features of Storybook Instruction

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How to Select Words to Preteach

Selecting Words to Preteach: Example Books and Target Words

Book: Vocabulary taught: Synonym/Definition
Harry, the Dirty Dog
by Gene Zion (1956)
buried Put in the ground and covered with dirt
strange Someone (or something) that you don't know
furiously Fast and wildly
Pete's a Pizza
by William Steig (1998)
mood How you act or feel
kneading Pushing and squeezing
giggling Silly laughing
Hush! A Thai Lullaby
by Minfong Ho (1996)
nearby Close
ceiling Top of a room
dozes Sleeps lightly
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie...
by Laura Numeroff (1985)
probably Most likely
trim Cut
sign Write your name
Caps for Sale
by Esphyr Slobodkina (1940)
peddler Someone who travels and sells things
stamped To put your foot down hard
disturb To move out of place
See References for all books

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Storybook Estimated Time and Sequence

Estimated time (minutes) and sequence of a 3 lesson storybook sequence

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Storybook Reading Lesson 1

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Storybook Reading Lesson 2

  • Story Introduction (3 - 4 minutes)
    • Title, author, illustrator
    • Recall questions emphasizing story elements
    • Review 3 target vocabulary words by showing words in context
  • Reading (4 - 6 minutes)
    • Pauses for target vocabulary words
    • Definitions and students responses to extend content
  • Discussion (3 - 5 minutes)
    • Reconstruct story with elements and target words
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (1963), see References

Lesson 2 Vocabulary Activity

Lesson 2 Vocabulary Activity: Target Words in Context

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Storybook Reading Lesson 3

Guess the Word Game

"You are going to tell me which word goes with another word. If you get it right, I will give the group a star."

  1. "Which words go with terrible? Very bad or very nice?
  2. "Which words go with rumpus? Playing dolls or wild play?
  3. "Which words go with mischief? Naughty things or helpful things?

What is the Magic Word? Game

"See if you can tell me what I am talking about. I will give you a star each time you are right."

  1. "The dog barked a very bad bark. What is our magic word for very bad?" (terrible) If incorrect or no response ask, "Was it terrible? Yes, terrible. The dog barked a terrible bark. Say that." (The dog barked a terrible bark.)
  2. "Max was sent to his room for doing naughty things. Which magic word am I talking about? (mischief) If incorrect or no response ask, "Was it mischief? Yes, mischief. Max got sent to his room for doing mischief. Say that." (Max got sent to his room for doing mischief.)

Prompted Retell

"Now try your best to remember what happens in the story. I will help you by asking questions and showing pictures. Be sure to tell me the names of the characters, where the story takes place, and the problems the characters have. Tell me the story as if you were telling it to a friend who has never heard it."