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Author's Purpose With Freckleface Strawberry

By Danielle Mahoney on September 28, 2010
  • Grades: 1–2, 3–5

 It's not always easy being a kid. All of us can relate to the feeling of being teased about something that made us stand out of the crowd.

 It's not always easy being a kid. All of us can relate to the feeling of being teased about something that made us stand out of the crowd. Maybe we even did some of the teasing ourselves. Figuring out how to love the unique and amazing person you are, imperfections and all, can take a lifetime. When I saw the cover of Julianne Moore's book Freckleface Strawberry, I knew I had to add it to my classroom library. (Yes, I was a freckle-faced kid myself.) Check out how you can use this book in your own classroom to teach author's purpose as your students learn that everyone is different . . . and THAT is what makes each one of us so special.



Getting Started




First, have your students get set up for the work they are about to do. They will need two post-it notes, a clipboard (or in this case, a notebook), and a pencil. Once the students write their names on each post-it, call them over to the meeting area so that you can get started on the work right away. 










The Read-Aloud


Introduce the book and make your expectations clear. Authors write to teach, to entertain, or to persuadeWriting a focus question on chart paper will help keep kids on track during the read-aloud. Think! Why did the author write this story? Read the book aloud to the students. When you reach the end of the book, ask your students to record their thinking on the first post-it.  



Jottingthoughts  Thinkhard

Be sure to give your students enough time to get their thinking on the post-it. Consider providing a little extra support by restating the question: "Why do you think the author wrote this story?" Once everyone has finished writing, have students share their thinking as they help you categorize their post-its on the chart paper. The results will be pretty impressive. 


After working with an amazing group of 3rd graders on this strategy last week, we found two major categories for our thinking. The first line of post-its communicate the idea that the author wrote the story because she wanted to teach her readers a lesson. The second line of post-its express the idea that the author wrote the story because the same thing happened to her as a child. Your chart may have additional categories, depending on the responses of your students. You may even find that one or two students have responses that stand alone. 



Informal Assessment

As a quick informal assessment of comprehension, you can look at the results to decide which students really understood the message of the story. You can also refer back to this chart for spelling skills, grammar, and clarity. Although these were quick notes, they should be legible, sight words should be spelled correctly, and their writing should make sense.   

Pick a Page! 


After having a discussion about what most of your students were thinking, ask them to decide which page of the book really showed why the author wrote this story.This is another way to assess your students' understanding of the book. Do a quick picture walk to allow your students to take another look at how the story unfolded. Using the second post-it, have students represent the page they feel shows why the author wrote the book by using words and sketches.


Next, repeat your picture walk and ask your students to place their post-its on the pages of the book as they come up. Flip through the book to examine the results. 


Here are some examples from our exploration with this lesson.


Some pages had a few post-it notes . . . 





While others were almost totally filled up . . . 



This activity can be a great springboard for discussions.

  • Which page had the most post-its? Why? 
  • Which page had the least? Why?
  • Which pages had none? Why?
  • What was it about that page that made you decide that it represented why the author wrote this story?

What a wonderful way to learn a valuable life lesson while understanding the author's purpose. 


Freckleface Strawberry: The Musical


PlaybillLast Thursday, Camp Broadway invited me to a preview of Freckleface Strawberry: The Musical during a special Educator's Night at the theater. What a show! The characters were lovable, the acting was great, and the singing and dancing blew me away. The show officially opens in early October. If you are a teacher in the New York City area, you may want to inquire about special group pricing for class trips. Download the AMAZING study guide to help you make the most of your trip. 


I hope that you will consider using this book across grades and for many purposes. Freckleface Strawberry has the power to teach our students some important life lessons.


It took me a long time to love my freckles . . .  




Comments (10)

Yes, Jen, they ARE superstars and will continue to be! Thank you for having good routines and management in place. I really love working with them. They are a great bunch. I look forward to coming in again very soon for some partner work!

=) Danielle

My babies are superstars! Thank you so much Dan for giving my kids the opportunity to work with you and have their work posted here. They are so excited and proud. One more way to stress the importance of your work, you never know who may read it.

Hey Eve!

You know, sometimes it just takes some getting used to!! I'm glad to hear that you've found a way to keep your kids focused! And yes, the book is really cute. I seem to be drawn to books that have a positive message. . . or those that make me cry! I have a pile of wonderful books that I can't wait to share in future posts. Thanks for your kind words!

=) Danielle

Hi Danielle, I used to be in the HATE camp when it came to Post-it notes but I have changed my mind! I love to use them as quick assessments. This year using Post-it notes has kept my students involved during my mini lessons. I love your post and the book looks fantastic!

Hi Amanda,

When it comes to using post-it notes during reading lessons, I find that people either LOVE them or HATE them. I happen to be a huge fan, too. If they are used as tools to help build reading comprehension in a meaningful way, how can you go wrong?! Oh, and of course you need a copy of the book! Especially if you are a Freckleface Strawberry yourself!! ;)

Let me know how it works out with your students!

=) Danielle

I love sticky notes, and this lesson is right up my alley. I can't wait to try it! I also can't wait to nab a copy of this book as a former strawberry blonde, freckle-faced little girl. Thanks for sharing!

Hey Kate! =)

Thanks so much for the wonderful feedback. I really appreciate it. As far as the freckles go, I'm sure that you are perfect, just the way you are, although I still have a few I could give away!

;) Danielle

Hi Christina,

I look forward to hearing about how this turns out with your reading groups. Your kids are lucky to have a teacher who is willing to bring new things into their reading program!

=) Danielle

What a great post Danielle...use of sticky notes was efficient and effective! I always admired the kids with freckles--and wished I had a few!

Great idea for assessing! I love the two post-it idea. I am going to try this with my reading groups. Thanks for sharing, Danielle!

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