Based on Diary of a Worm
by Doreen Cronin
About the Book
Recorded from March 20th to August 1st, this is the diary of a worm with a busy life. If he's not trying to teach Spider how to dig (no luck there), he's doing the hokey pokey at a school dance (a partial success). Often attired in a distinctive red baseball cap, this little brown worm has endearing adventures at home, at school, and on the playground.
Set the Stage
Get students ready to read by showing the cover and talking about the title and pictures.
- What kind of animal is holding the pencil? What is the worm doing?
- The worm in the story keeps a diary. What is a diary? Have you, or anyone you know, kept one? What kinds of things (dates, thoughts, feelings, pictures) are written or drawn in a diary? Why do you think people keep diaries?
- What do you know about real worms?
After students have enjoyed the book, lead a lively discussion with these questions:
- Which page(s) made you laugh? Why?
- What do you notice about the illustrations on the inside front and back covers? Why do you think the illustrations are in frames, with tape on the corners, and with captions under each?
- Why are the illustrations important to the book?
- What kind of research do you think the author and illustrator did to create this book?
This reproducible will help children check their understanding of the sequence of events from the story.
To extend students'enjoyment of the book, try these:
- Curtain Going Up: Have students use brown paper bags and crayons to create puppets of the worm and other characters in the story. (Have children hold the bag with the opening at the bottom. Use the flap on the bag for the mouth. Children insert their hands into the bag, opening and closing the flap as the character talks.) Ask students to put on a show about the life of the worm in the story.
- Dear Diary: As a group, write some diary entries by an animal other than a worm, such as a bee or a bird. Include a date and an illustration for each page. If you like, create a Big Book called Diary of a ______ and place it in the class library.
- Act It Out: Worms crawl, but how do other animals get around? Play a pantomime game: Create a stack of cards, each card showing an animal in motion (bird flying, snake crawling), along with the name of the animal. Have a student select a card and act out for the class the animal on the go. Have students in class identify the animal. The child who correctly identifies the animal gets to act out the next one.
- Book Report Card: Talk about the worms report card (which is illustrated on the inside front cover of the book). Then create a report card for Diary of a Worm, giving it letter grades for Story, Illustrations, and other categories students suggest.
- Watch Them Go!: Order real worms from an approved educational supply company. Keep a class journal of observations: size, color, means of locomotion, diet, and behavior. Later, through research, find out about worms natural habitat. Talk about the ways in which worms help the earth. Record the information on a chart.
- Animal Mural: As a class, create a mural of animal life in your school neighborhood. Using a large sheet of butcher-block paper taped to a wall, divided into three horizontal sections: above ground, on the ground, below the ground. Discuss which animals live or work in each area. Then ask volunteers to use crayons and markers to illustrate the animals and other things in nature.
- We Want More!: Do students like books by Doreen Cronin? If so, try: Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type and Giggle, Giggle, Quack.
Lesson Developed by Dr. Susan Shafer
Dr. Susan Shafer is a former elementary school teacher with more than twenty years of classroom experience and a doctorate in education from Teachers College, Columbia University. While teaching she received special recognition for her innovative, theme-based teaching methods. The author of two books for children and numerous articles for adults, Susan is presently a freelance writer, editor, and educational consultant.