One of our challenges as primary teachers is being able to distill the “big ideas” contained in the standards into reasonable, developmentally appropriate concepts for children ages five to eight. Great literature and rich conversation during read alouds are key. For example, to develop children’s understanding of finding evidence in a text to support an idea, you might have the following conversation using the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Carle, 1969/1987):

Before Reading

Set the purpose for reading and share the learning target by saying, “The title of this book is The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Let’s read to find out why Eric Carle chose to give this book that title. Let’s see if we can find any evidence in his illustrations or words that the caterpillar is ‘very hungry.’ Evidence is when you find proof  or a reason to believe that something is true. Are you ready to be a reading detective and see if you can spot some evidence or proof?”

During Reading

One Sunday . . . page: Ask, “Did you hear any evidence on this page? Was the evidence in the pictures or words? [words]  Is that enough proof to make you believe the caterpillar is very hungry or do you need more evidence?”

Continue that conversation as you read the Monday-Friday pages.

On Saturday . . . page [where the caterpillar eats ALL the different foods]: Ask, “Hmm! What are you thinking now?”

Guide students to see that this page is full of text and illustration-based evidence by posing the following questions/prompts:

  • “How did you figure that out?”
  • “Show us where you saw that in the illustrations.”

After Reading

Wrap up the experience with, “Now that you’ve had time to search for evidence, do you think The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a good title for this book? Why or why not? How did looking for evidence help you as a reader?”

For more great teaching ideas from Maria Walther, check out her latest professional book, Transforming Literacy Teaching in the Era of Higher Standards: K-2.