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Weston Woods
For 50 years Weston Woods Studios has been the principal innovator in the translation of picture books into the audiovisual media. Our adaptations are faithful reflections of classic children's picture books designed to motivate beginning, struggling, reluctant and limited English language proficient readers to WANT to read.

Max's Words Discussion Guide

In Max's Words, Max's brother Benjamin collects stamps. His other brother Karl collects coins. Neither of them will share with Max. Max racks his brain to come up with something that he can collect. He decides on words. As Max's collection grows, he finds that it is much more dynamic than either of his brothers'. He uses his words to start a thought, and then a story. Soon Benjamin and Karl get involved and Max discovers the rewards of collecting something and the fun of sharing it with others.


  • Students will collaborate to create stories
  • Students will differentiate between nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs and articles
  • Students will practice the comprehension strategy of sequencing events

Before Reading Activities

Discuss collecting with students. Guiding questions:

  • Do you collect anything? What?
  • Does anyone you know collect anything?
  • Why is your collection important to you?
  • What do you learn from your collection?
  • Do you ever share the items from your collection with anyone else?
  • How long have you had your collection? How did it start?

After the discussion, tell students that they will be reading about brothers with different kinds of collections. Encourage students to make text-to-self connections by reading for which character they, or someone they know, are most like.

Introduce parts of speech to students: nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs and articles. Define each part of speech and guide students through thinking of examples of each type of word. Create posters with these definitions and the students' examples for each. Next, introduce a color to signify each part of speech. Suggestions are: nouns - yellow, verbs - orange, adjectives - blue, adverbs - purple, articles - red. Give students examples of sentences and have them underline each type of word with the appropriate color marker, crayon or colored pencil. This is a useful type of activity to practice daily to teach the students parts of speech.

After Reading Activities

Supply students with magazines, newspapers and scissors. Divide the students into groups of four or five. Give each group five shoe boxes, labeled with the five types of speech (to reinforce the color codes, cover each shoe box with the appropriate colored construction paper). Ask each student to search through his or her magazine or newspaper for words. They should cut the words out and put them into the appropriate shoe box. After students have collected a reasonable amount of words in each box, give groups the opportunity to share some of the words that they found. If any words are new for most of the class, copy them onto a piece of chart paper, entitled "Our New Words." If students are unsure of the definition, help them locate the word in a dictionary and review the meaning with the class.

Using the words that the students have collected, ask each group to put together a story. Like Max, Karl, and Benjamin, the students should take turns creating sentences. If there are words that a student needs but cannot find in the box, he or she can write the word on a small piece of paper and cut it out for the sentence. Once the story is complete and laid out on a piece of construction paper, it should be checked by the teacher. Encourage students to "revise" the story by substituting words or the order of sentences. When the story has been checked and revised, students should glue the words onto the construction paper. As a final step, students can search magazines for pictures to cut out to complement the story. These should be glued onto the construction paper also, creating a collage-like effect. Display the students' stories in the classroom.

Have the students practice the comprehension strategy of sequencing events. On sentence strips, write the following events from the story:

  • Max's family admired Benjamin's stamp collection.
  • Max's family admired Karl's coin collection.
  • Max decided to collect words.
  • Max collected small words, bigger words, and words that made him feel good.
  • Max's collection grew too big for his room.
  • Max used his words to make a story.
  • Max's brothers decided that they wanted to make stories too.
  • Max gave his brothers some words and they gave him a coin and a stamp.

Mix the sentence strips up and have the students rearrange them into the correct order. Provide each student with a worksheet that has the same sentences written out of order. First, students must put the sentences in the correct order by numbering them. Next, students will rewrite the sentences in the correct order and draw a picture next to each sentence that corresponds with the sentence.

Other Weston Woods productions about language and writing include:

Max's Words by Kate Banks, ill. by Boris Kulikov

Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin, ill. by Betsy Lewin

Diary of a Spider by Doreen Cronin, ill. by Harry Bliss

Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin, ill. by Harry Bliss

Emily's First 100 Days of School by Rosemary Wells

Giggle, Giggle, Quack by Doreen Cronin, ill. by Betsy Lewin

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback

Wild About Books by Judy Sierra

TO ORDER: For Public Library sales call 800-243-5020 / For School Library sales call 800-621-1115.

This guide may be photocopied for free distribution without restriction.

Copyright 2008 Weston Woods.

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