This witty story by Toni Buzzeo, illustrated by David Small, is a must-have! “One Cool Friend” is structured around a “misunderstanding” between Elliot and his father. When Elliot reluctantly visits the aquarium with his father, he falls in love with the penguins and asks his father if he can bring one home. His father agrees, thinking he means a plush penguin from the gift shop. I know my students will love reading about Elliot’s secret adventures with his new pet penguin. The surprising revelation at the end will make students ask to read this charming story over and over again. They will want to comb through the illustrations to find details and clues they missed the first time. Luckily, I planned 4-5 days of lessons so my students will have time to immerse themselves in this story.
The first day we read “One Cool Friend,” I will ask text dependent questions to ensure my students understand the key ideas and details from the story. If you are not familiar with text dependent questions you can read more about them here. We will complete a basic story map to record the beginning, middle, and end of the story. For the middle, students will need to remember three ways in which Elliot took care of Magellan when he got home from the museum.
This book is wonderful for teaching character traits. The illustrations complement the text perfectly by helping to depict Elliot and his father. The second day, we will revisit “One Cool Friend” to look for character traits of Elliot and his father. We will carefully study the text and its illustrations to help us describe the characters. I will ask text dependent questions that require my students to focus on certain pages of text and accompanying illustrations to help us with this task.
Because “One Cool Friend” has such purposeful illustrations, I want to focus on the Reading Literature Integration of Knowledge and Ideas standard 7-using illustrations to understand characters, setting, or plot. I will ask the students a series of text dependent questions that require them to really study the illustrations and text to make connections.
Finally, we will have some fun making “Backwards Portraits.” As a class, we will talk about animals we want to take home from a zoo or aquarium. Students will choose an animal and complete a writing sheet, telling which animal they chose and why. They will illustrate their idea by making a backwards portrait of themselves carrying their animal in a backpack. We ask students to share their writing in small groups using these speaking and listening strategies.
For detailed lesson plans, and all the materials to do these reading and writing activities with your class, visit our Teacher Pay Teacher store.
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