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A Fancy Nancy Valentine, Part 1: Reading Lesson Plans

By Meghan Everette on January 20, 2015
  • Grades: 1–2, 3–5

After reading Fancy Nancy by Jane O'Connor and illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser, I knew my girls would instantly fall in love with the sassy personality and sparkly pages. I promptly made a Fancy Nancy series book box in the library and the titles were a hit. When a co-worker thought of a fancy party for Valentine’s Day, it was natural to pick the Nancy books as the read-alouds, but the challenge was to create interesting investigations boys and girls alike would enjoy and learn from. Using a variety of books and topics, we explored author’s purpose, exciting vocabulary, poetry, and more in the week leading up to Valentine’s Day. The big surprise? The boys loved Nancy as much as the girls!


Get started by downloading the entire set of lesson plans to make your lessons extra fancy! 

Fancy Nancy Lesson Plans



Fancy Nancy Character WebThroughout reading, students added to a character web featuring Nancy. With a picture of Nancy in the middle, words to describe Nancy and her likes and dislikes were added with each reading. Students learned what makes a full character and how each book led to more discoveries about Nancy.


Author’s Purpose

Students were introduced to author’s purpose and the four main reasons an author writes. As we read, we identified the reasons the author wrote each book. While the original Fancy Nancy is obviously entertaining, other books in the series teach about the importance of recycling or how poetry can explain emotions, and other important subjects.


Fancy Nancy the original

Fancy Nancy original book

Fancy words are the focus activity for this original book. As Nancy uses words like plume, she also explains it is a fancy word for feather. We created a list of “fancy” words and added to it when we read other books. Students used fancy words in sentences. When they wrote the word, they added color, swirls, and extra doodling decorations to make the words extra fancy. The lesson was a hit and students used the fun new words in writing and speaking well after we were finished with the unit.


Fancy Nancy vocabularyFancy Nancy fancy vocabulary words


Fancy Nancy Aspiring Artist

Fancy Nancy Aspiring Artist

Nancy’s best friend Bree is out of town, and Nancy is glum. Her mom comes to the rescue with new glittery markers. Nancy begins making works of art while telling readers about famous artists and works of art. After reading, students used 12" x 18" construction paper and fancy craft supplies to decorate placemats to be used at our Valentine party. I laminated the work when finished so it would be protected during the celebration.




Fancy Nancy placemat


Fancy Nancy Poet Extraordinaire

Fancy Nancy Poet

Nancy knows every kind of poem there is, but she gets writer’s block when her teacher assigns writing a poem. Complete with a poetry anthology, written by Nancy herself, students learn about all kinds of poems and how to overcome a creative block. After reading, students worked on several different poetry forms including a cinquain and an acrostic using their own names. The poems were written on big pink leaves and added to a poet-tree. The fancy vocabulary list was a big help in boosting vocabulary used in poems.




Fancy Nancy Explorer Extraordinaire

Complete with how to make a pinecone birdfeeder, fancy lemonade, and a map of the yard, students loved the Explorer Club Nancy and Bree create. There are a few good safety lessons for exploring and lots of nature in Nancy’s fancy world. Students picked up on the informative reasons the author wrote the book and learned about captions and diagrams. A love bug craft finished off the reading and the bugs adorned our poet-tree and classroom during our Valentine’s party.

Love Bug Craft


Fancy Nancy and the Mean GirlFancy Nancy and the Mean Girl

Now thorough Nancy fans, students were riled up when she encounters a girl being a bully. Not only did they learn some conflict resolution skills and how to stick up for yourself, students also tied the theme in this book to a lesson. To build each other up, students each wrote their name on a large postcard. We passed the postcards around, adding kind words and accolades to each person’s postcard. Students learned that they are truly cared about by their classmates, which is a great way to kick off Valentine’s Day.



Fancy Nancy and the Dazzling Book ReportFancy Nancy and the Dazzling Book Report

Nancy slaps some work on a page and calls it done, but then realizes that she didn’t do her best, or fanciest, job. She recreates the report with all the effort she should have used the first time. Students examined the cause and effect relationships in the story, and also had a good reminder about using full effort. Then they wrote about their favorite Fancy Nancy book we read. Some of them even used books they had explored on their own after being inspired by the class lessons.


Fancy Nancy Book Report


Fancy Nancy Tea Party

The day of our Valentine party (complete with a fancy theme) we read the tea party story. There are fun menu suggestions and details for how to use your best fancy manners. Students thought it was funny to keep their pinkies in the air and practice all their fancy words throughout the Fancy Valentine Day.

Fancy Nancy is a true girly girl with just enough sass and silly to interest the boys. After a full week of engaged learning and reading, students were pulling all the Fancy Nancy books they could find from the library shelves. Not only did students learn, but they were able to use all the Valentine-themed fancy craft materials and fun coloring items in the classroom to get ready for our Fancy Valentine Party day. See next week’s post A Fancy Nancy Valentine, Part 2: A Fancy Party for All.


What other ways have you used Fancy Nancy, or other typically girly books, with the whole class?

Do you have any other Valentine book favorites?

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Comments (2)

What great Fancy Nancy ideas, but I LOVE the photos of you "fancied up" most of all! Hilarious! My students have enjoyed the Clementine books, even though the main character is a girl, (albeit not a girly-girl.)

Thanks! The boys actually liked Nancy too, even though they might not admit it. They all really got into the books. That's the benefit of first graders - they don't know it isn't "cool"!

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