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October 20, 2011 The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza By Michelle Sullenberger
Grades 1–2

    October is National Pizza Month, which means it's the perfect time for a pizza unit. Your students’ favorite food originated around 3,000 years ago.   The pizza we are most familiar with was invented in Naples, Italy, by a chef who combined basil leaves, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese to a make a pizza with the colors of the Italian flag. Each day Americans eat enough pizza to cover about 100 acres of land. This is about 350 slices per second. The book The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza, a unique retelling of the classic tale by Philemon Sturges, is the perfect centerpiece for a pizza-themed lesson that will stoke your students’ learning appetites. Let’s get baking.    

    Before-Reading Activities

    Graph Your Favorite Pizza. As part of your morning warm-up activity, graph your class's favorite pizza toppings. Make a large butcher-paper bar graph or design a bar graph on your interactive whiteboard. Create paper or electronic shapes to represent the pizza choices, and have the students tape their favorite toppings to the paper or clone the electronic shapes on the SMART Board.  Then prompt a discussion about the graph with questions about the class’s favorite pizza, its least favorite pizza, or how many more students like pepperoni than cheese pizza.

    Learn About Being a Pizza Maker. Help your students understand the job of a pizza maker using this great Listen and Read activity. Students will readily share their prior knowledge, and you will be able to make a text-to-text connection with The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza after you read it.  

    Sing a Song of Pizza. Have your students sing this song to the tune of "Bingo":

    There is a treat

    That is good to eat

    And Pizza is its name-o


    Yum! Yum!

    Make sure to include this song in your students’ poetry notebooks. It's great to use for transition or clean-up activities.

    Build a Pizza Word Wall.  Add all of the relevant words from the Little Red Hen book to a pizza-themed word bank for future activities. Key words may include "lovely," "pizza," "scratched," "cupboard," "tomato sauce," "rummaged," "hardware store," "flour," "supermarket," "mozzarella," "pepperoni," "mushrooms," "dough," "delicatessen," and "kneaded."


    Reading the Book

    Complete an Interactive Read-Aloud. The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza finds the Little Red Hen looking for help to make pizza only to hear the expected “Not I” response over and over again. In this funny retelling, the students can't wait to find out what happens next, and they'll love the surprise ending. The book is best read by having the students actively listen, turning and talking with a partner about the events and illustrations and then making predictions about what will happen next.  Engage your students during the read-aloud with questions such as

    • How would you describe the duck, the cat, and the dog?
    • What words can you use to describe the Little Red Hen?
    • What do you think the duck, dog, and cat will say when the Little Red Hen asks them to run to the store to buy flour?
    • What do you think the duck, dog, and cat will say when the Little Red Hen asks them to run to the store to buy mozzarella?
    • What do you think the duck, dog, and cat will say when the Little Red Hen asks them to help her make the dough?
    • How do you think the Little Red Hen feels when the other animals will not help her make the pizza?
    • Do you think the Little Red Hen will share her lovely, large pizza?  Why or why not?
    • Why do you think the duck, cat, and dog offered to do the dishes?
    • What lesson did the animals learn? Do you think they will be more willing to help out next time? Why or why not?
    • How would the story be different if all the animals had agreed to help the Little Red Hen with the work?
    • What does this story make you think about? 

    After-Reading Activities and Extensions

    Make a Pizza Chef. In this fun art and writing project, have the students make their own pizza chef complete with a paper plate where they write about their favorite pizza. To make the chef, students trace a chef hat pattern and a circle pattern for the face, both of which you provide, and then they cut and glue their own designs onto the shapes. Students will need assorted colors of construction paper to make the face and markers to complete the design on the paper plate. Be sure to make your own example ahead of time to share with the students.


    Retell the Story. Divide an 11" X 17" sheet of construction paper into thirds. Label the sections with the words "beginning," "middle," and "ending." Then ask your students to write about and illustrate the important events in the story. 


    Write About the Favorite Part of the Story. Ask the students to write about and illustrate their favorite part of the story and tell why that part is their favorite. 

    Complete a Venn Diagram. Read the original Little Red Hen story and have the students work together to complete a Venn diagram to compare and contrast the two stories.

    Try a Readers Theater. Have your beginning readers work on fluency and expression while having fun with reading. Check out this Scholastic Teacher Share resource for a possible script. Listen to a podcast of my students’ readers theater. 

    Author a New Little Red Hen Book. Have your students write their own Little Red Hen story. Have them share their versions of the story with the class. Be sure to check out the blog First Grade Fanatics for the ready-made resource that I used with this writing activity.   

    Make Pizza Dough. Of course, you could also have the class make pizza dough from scratch and celebrate with pizza.

    Be sure to visit Scholastic Printables for more pizza-themed resources

    Enjoy your lesson, and bon appétit.


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