Gus Gets Scared Storia Teaching Guide
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2
About this book
Gus has a new tent in his backyard. He loves it so much that he never wants to leave. His mom brings out his lunch. Gus brings out his toys. Even when it gets dark and cold, Gus wants to sleep in the tent.
His mom and dad say that he is very brave. But soon, Gus doesn’t feel so brave. It’s dark and there are strange sounds. Gus goes inside to get his dad. Dad falls asleep in the tent, but when Gus gets scared he goes inside and crawls into bed with his mom. When the sun comes up, Gus’s dad wakes up. Where’s Gus? Safe and warm inside!
The simple text and bright illustrations make this a perfect book for students just beginning to read.
Teaching the Book
Gus is an adventurous little rhino who has just gotten a new tent. Will he be brave enough to sleep outside all night? Gus Gets Scared teaches young readers a lesson about the excitement and fears of trying new experiences. The book provides an opportunity to teach students how to “read” illustrations and how to identify story elements. Activities include retelling the story, playing an opposites game, and creating book covers.
Theme Focus: Picture Book
Comprehension Focus: Story Elements
Language Focus: Opposites
Get Ready to Read
Model for young readers how to look closely at the illustrations in this picture book to learn about what is happening in the story. Project the title page of the book onto a whiteboard or screen or have students look at their own copies. Explain that this title page tells the name of the book and the name of the author. It also shows a picture that begins the story. Ask students to study the picture carefully.
Prompt students to “read” the illustration by asking the following questions: Who do you think Gus is? Who do you think the other characters are? What is Gus’s mom doing? What is Gus’s dad doing? Where is Gus and his tent? How do you think Gus feels? Encourage students to add any more ideas they have about the illustration.
Preview and Predict
Ask students to read the title of the book and think about the picture. What do they predict might happen in the story?
Introduce students to these opposite words from the book. Ask them to watch for these vocabulary words as they read. Tell them to use clues in the pictures to help them figure out what the words mean.
Use Resource #1: Vocabulary Cards and distribute copies to students.
Words to Know
Have students cut apart their vocabulary cards. Read aloud each word meaning below. Ask students to hold up the vocabulary word that matches the meaning. Ask students to say the word and to use it in a sentence.
- brave having courage
- scared being frightened
- outside outdoors
- inside indoors
- day when the sun is out
- night when the sky is dark
Next, tell students to put all their vocabulary cards on their desks and mix them up. Then have them sort the cards into pairs of opposite meanings.
As You Read
Reading the Book
Read the book aloud with fluency and expression. Have students follow along in their own books, looking carefully at each illustration as you read a page. Ask students to connect what they hear in the story to what they see in the pictures.
Reread the book, and ask students to read their copies at the same time. Cue them to read aloud certain words and phrases that you omit from your reading. If students are able, encourage them to read the text aloud along with you.
Big Question: Critical Thinking
Ask students to think about this question as they read. Write the question on chart paper or the whiteboard. Will Gus stay outside all night? Why or why not?
Guide students to identify the characters, settings, and major events in the story. Model asking questions to identify the story elements and prompt students to fill in the story elements graphic organizer with you. Project Resource #2: Story Elements on a whiteboard or screen.
First, I’m going to ask myself: Who are the characters in this book? I know that the first character is Gus. I’ll write his name in the first row. Who are the other characters in the book? That’s right. Mom and Dad.
Next, I’ll ask myself about the story’s setting: Where and when does the story take place? At the beginning, the story takes place outside during the day. I’ll write that in the first row. What are some of the other settings in the book? That’s right, outside during the night and inside Mom’s bedroom.
Next, I’ll ask myself about the story’s important events, or plot. What happens in the story? Well, first, Gus plays all day in his new tent. What else happens? Gus asks his dad to sleep in the tent with him. Then Gus gets scared and goes to sleep inside with his mom.
After You Read
Questions to Discuss
Lead students in a discussion of these focus story elements.
1. Picture Book
Find the picture that shows when Gus gets scared by a sound. Explain what is happening in the picture. (Answer: It is dark out and an owl begins to go “Whoooooo.” Then Gus gets scared.)
2. Story Elements
Where is the story set when Gus goes inside? (Answer: Gus is in his mom’s bedroom.)
What is in the sky during the day? (Answer: the sun) What is in the sky during the night? (Answer: the moon)
Questions to Share
Encourage students to share their responses with a partner or small group.
1. Text to Self
Would you like to spend a night in a tent outside? Why or why not?
2. Text to World
What are other times that kids like Gus might get scared?
3. Text to Text
Do you think that a little rhino named Gus really lives in a house and wears clothes? Is this a true story or a make-believe story?
Content Area Connections
Tell students they are going to play a game about opposites. Read the examples below and have students fill in the last word.
1. The opposite of up is __________________.
2. The opposite of tall is __________________.
3. The opposite of dry is __________________.
4. The opposite of hot is __________________.
5. The opposite of hard is _________________.
Write the opposites on cards and have students play matching games.
Gus, Mom, & Dad
Assign students the roles of Gus, Mom, and Dad. Project each page of the book onto a whiteboard or screen. Ask students to make up what Gus, Mom, and Dad might say on each page. For example, on the first page, Gus might say: “My new tent is so cool!” Go through the book with the students as actors making up dialogue. Change roles so everyone has a chance to contribute.
Make a Tent
Give students construction paper, tape, and crayons or markers. Ask them to make a tent. Allow time for trial and error and have students share how they folded the paper and set the tent up. Next, encourage them to decorate the tents to make them their own special places.
Ask students what animal Gus heard at night. Explain that an owl is a night animal, or a nocturnal animal. Other night animals are raccoons, bats, and crickets. Read a book with nocturnal animals sounds.
A Creepy, Cumulative Story
Tell students that you are going to create a group story about Gus. Only this time, Gus will be scared by several different things. The beginning of the story is:
Gus was sleeping in his tent. He woke up and heard: an owl going “Whoooooo!” Gus got scared!
Ask students to add one scary things to create a cumulative story. On example:
Gus was sleeping in his tent. He woke up and heard thunder in the sky. Then he heard an owl going “Whoooooo!” Gus got scared!
Give each student an opportunity to add to the story. Prompt everyone to say their cumulative parts and then the last two lines together.
Don't Forget the Big Question
Give each student a turn to answer the big question. Encourage students to give examples from the story or their own lives to support their answers. Will Gus stay outside all night? Why or why not?
My Book Cover
Show students the cover of Gus Gets Scared. Explain that they will create their own book cover for a story about a little animal of their choice, who is scared of something, just like Gus. Give them these directions to follow.
1. Pick an animal character.
2. Name the character.
3. Fill in the title and author (you).
4. Draw a picture for the book cover.
Pass out copies of the Big Activity: My Book Cover for students to complete. When they are finished, post the book covers in the classroom and ask students to talk about their characters and what scares them.
About the Author
Frank Remkiewicz is best known for his illustrations of the popular Horrible Harry series by Suzy Kline and the bestselling Froggy series by Jonathan London. He has also written and illustrated several books of his own, including Gus Makes a Gift, The Last Time I Saw Harris, and others.
Remkiewicz says, “I’ve always been drawn to the field of humor. Since I’m writing and illustrating my own stories now, I try to make them funny in an outrageous or off-the-wall way. During classroom presentations, it’s a thrill to watch my own book being read by a group of children and I like it when they smile, but I love it when they laugh.”
For more information about Frank Remciewicz and his books, visit: www.remki.com/.
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