The Disappearing Moon
Level J 

About the Book 

Text Type: Fiction/Pourquoi Tale
Page Count: 16
Word Count: 470

Book Summary
The animals are afraid the moon is disappearing, and they're very worried. They think their fears have come true until they get a lesson about the moon and its phases from wise old Owl. Students will learn facts about the moon through this enjoyable story. Pictures support the text.

About the Lesson

Targeted Reading Strategy

  • Connect to prior knowledge


  • Use the reading strategy of connecting to prior knowledge to understand the text
  • Identify cause and effect
  • Identify and discriminate the final r-controlled /er/ sound in words
  • Recognize and write the r-controlled er letter combination in words
  • Identify and use quotation marks
  • Understand and use content vocabulary


  • Book -- The Disappearing Moon (copy for each student)
  • Chalkboard or dry erase board
  • Cause and effect, quotation marks, content vocabulary worksheets

    Indicates an opportunity for student to mark in the book. (All activities may be completed with paper and pencil if books are reusable.)


  • High-frequency words: about, after, could, know, not, only, was, you
  • Content words: bigger, disappearing, Earth, full moon, half moon, lesson, new moon, scared, smaller, three-quarters, worry

Before Reading 

Build Background

  • Ask students whether they have ever looked at the moon in the sky at night. Discuss what they know about the moon and whether they have ever noticed that it does not always look the same.

Book Walk

Introduce the Book

  • Show students the front and back covers of the book and read the title with them. Ask what they think they might read about in a book called The Disappearing Moon. (Accept any answers that students can justify.)
  • Show students the title page. Discuss the information on the page (title of book, author's name, illustrator's name).

Introduce the Reading Strategy: Connect to prior knowledge

  • Explain that good readers make connections between what they already know and new information they read. Remind students that thinking about what they already know about the topic of the book will help them understand what they read.
  • Model connecting to prior knowledge using the information on the covers.
    Think-aloud: When I look at the picture on the cover, I see a squirrel with its hands on its face and its mouth open. When people make a face like that, they are often frightened or worried. I think the squirrel might be scared or worried. Since the title is The Disappearing Moon, I wonder if the squirrel is worried about the moon disappearing.
  • As students read, encourage them to use other reading strategies in addition to the targeted strategy presented in this section. For tips on additional reading strategies, click here.

Introduce the Comprehension Skill: Cause and effect

  • Explain to students that one way to understand information in a story is to think about what happened and the reasons why something happened. Point out that an effect is something that happens, and a cause explains why it happens.
  • Model how to identify an effect and its cause.
    Think-aloud: When I read, I think about things that happen and try to figure out the reason why they happened. For example, if a character in a story falls down, I read to find out reasons why he or she fell down. The character might have tripped over a toy on the floor. The effect would be falling down, and the cause would be tripping over a toy.
  • Invite students to suggest possible causes for a character getting wet (getting caught in a rainstorm, falling in a puddle, swimming in a pool).

Introduce the Vocabulary

  • While previewing the book, reinforce the vocabulary words students will encounter in the story. For example, while looking at the picture on page 5, you might say: The other animals look as though they are asking Squirrel why he is so worried. They want to know what is the matter.
  • Remind students to look at the pictures and the letters with which a word begins or ends to figure out a difficult word. For example, point to the word worried on page 5 and say: I am going to check the picture and think about what would make sense to figure out this word. The picture tells me that Squirrel is scared about the moon disappearing. When I look at the first part of the word, it starts like /w/. However, the word scared starts with the /sc/ sound, so this can't be the word. I know that sometimes when people are scared they are also worried. The word worried starts with the /w/ sound. The sentence makes sense with this word. The word must be worried.
  • For additional tips on teaching high-frequency words and word-attack strategies, click here.

Set the Purpose

  • Have students read to find out whether the moon disappears. Remind them to use information they already know about the moon to help them read the book.

During Reading 

Student Reading

  • Guide the reading: Give students their copy of the book. Have them read to the end of page 6 and then stop to think about what has happened so far in the story. Encourage students who finish before others to reread the text.
  • Model connecting to prior knowledge and identifying cause-and-effect relationships.
    Think-aloud: As I read, I thought about the events that happened and what caused them to happen. On page 6, I read how Squirrel was worried. Since the moon kept getting smaller, he thought that it would disappear. This is what caused him to be worried. This reminded me of times I have looked up at the moon at night. I know that the moon changes shape. Sometimes there is no moon. However, the moon always comes back. I wonder if the moon will really disappear in this story.
  • Introduce the cause and effect worksheet. Have students read to page 10. Discuss with students what caused the animals to think that the moon was disappearing (it was getting smaller). Have students record the cause and effect on their worksheet.
  • Check for understanding: Have students read to the end of page 12. Ask them to write on their worksheet what caused the animals to only see part of the moon (the moon moved around Earth). Encourage them to share how they connected to prior knowledge as they read. (Accept all answers that show students understand how to connect to prior knowledge.)
  • Have students read the remainder of the book. Remind them to use what they already know about the moon to help them understand information as they read.

    Have students make a small question mark in their book beside any word they do not understand or cannot pronounce. These can be addressed in the discussion that follows.

After Reading 

Reflect on the Reading Strategy

  • Ask students what words, if any, they marked in their book. Use this opportunity to model how they can read these words using decoding strategies and context clues.
  • Think-aloud: When I read page 13, it reminded me of the times when I don't see the moon at all. They sky is very dark and it is easier for me to see the stars. I know that the moon never really disappears. However, the animals in the story don't know this. I know that sometimes it is easier to get scared about something when you can't explain what is happening.
  • Have students draw a picture on a separate piece of paper showing how they connected to prior knowledge while reading. Invite students to share and explain their picture with the rest of the class. Ask students to explain how thinking about what they already knew helped them to understand and enjoy the story.

Reflect on the Comprehension Skill

  • Discussion: Review the effects and their causes that students recorded on their worksheet.
  • Independent practice: Have students complete the cause and effect worksheet. If time allows, invite students to share additional cause-and-effect relationships in the book.
  • Enduring understanding: In the story, the animals became scared when they couldn't explain why the moon seemed to be disappearing. After owl explained to them some facts about the moon, they felt better. Now that you know this, how might you react when something is worrying you?

Build Skills 

Phonological Awareness: Discriminate r-controlled /er/

  • Say the word matter aloud to students, emphasizing the final /er/ sound. Have students say the word aloud and then say the final /er/ sound.
  • Say the word small aloud with students. Have students add the /er/ sound to the end of the word small. Ask them to say the new word aloud (smaller). Repeat the process with the word big.
  • Check for understanding: Say the following words one at a time and have students give the thumbs-up signal if the word ends with the /er/ sound: later, moon, after, looked, sliver, other.

Phonics: Identify r-controlled er

  • Write the word matter on the board and say the word aloud with students.
  • Have students say the /er/ sound aloud. Then run your finger under the letters in the word as students say the whole word aloud. Ask students what letters together stand for the /er/ sound in the word matter.
  • Circle the er letter combination. Explain to students that the letters e and r together stand for the /er/ sound at the end of the word matter. Have students practice writing the er letter combination on a separate piece of paper as they say the sound the letters stand for together.
  • Check for understanding: Write the following words that end with the er letter combination on the board, leaving off the final er: other, gather, better. Say each word, one at a time, and have volunteers come to the board and add the er letter combination to each word.

Grammar and Mechanics: Quotation marks

  • Have students turn to page 5 and locate the first sentence. Read the first sentence to them aloud. Point to the quotation marks. Explain to students that these marks are called quotation marks--they go around the words that characters say in a story.
  • Point out the word asked after the quotation marks. Explain to students that this word signals who is speaking. Tell them that Raccoon is asking Squirrel a question in this sentence.
  • Turn to page 6. Read the first sentence aloud and explain that quotation marks are not used because a character is not speaking in this sentence.
  • Have students point to the second sentence on page 6. Ask them to tell who is speaking (Raccoon). Repeat the process with the third sentence.
  • Have a volunteer describe what the animals think is happening to the moon. Write the sentence in dialogue form on the board, leaving off the quotation marks. Have a volunteer come to the board and add the quotation marks in the correct locations.

   Check for understanding: Have students find and highlight other sentences in the story that contain quotation marks. Discuss who is speaking in each sentence.

  • Independent practice: Introduce, explain, and have students complete the quotation marks worksheet. If time allows, discuss their responses.

Word Work: Content vocabulary

  • Write the following vocabulary words on the board: new, crescent, half, three-quarters, full. Say the words aloud with students and explain that these words are used to describe how the moon looks at different times of the month.
  • Discuss the meaning of each word with students. Draw and label each phase on the board.
  • Check for understanding: Point to each picture of the moon in the book. Have students tell the name for the moon phase illustrated in the picture.
  • Independent practice: Introduce, explain, and have students complete the content vocabulary worksheet. If time allows, discuss their responses.

Build Fluency 

Independent Reading

  • Allow students to read their book independently or with a partner. Encourage repeated timed readings of a specific section in the book. Additionally, partners can take turns reading parts of the book to each other.

Home Connection

  • Give students their book to take home to read with parents, caregivers, siblings, or friends. Have students explain the causes and effects in the story to someone at home as they read the book together.

Extend the Reading 

Narrative Writing and Art Connection
Have students draw a picture of something that has worried or scared them. Have them write a paragraph describing the event.

Science Connection
Have students observe the moon for three weeks. Have them draw what the moon looks like each night. Each day, discuss with students what they observed. Create a class log of the moon phases. Draw, label, and date a picture of the moon each night for three weeks.


Monitor students to determine if they can:

  • accurately and consistently connect to prior knowledge to understand text
  • accurately identify cause-and-effect relationships during discussion and on a worksheet
  • accurately discriminate words that end with the /er/ sound during discussion
  • accurately recognize and understand that the letters e and r together stand for the /er/ sound
  • accurately identify and understand the use of quotation marks during discussion and on a worksheet
  • understand the meaning of content vocabulary; demonstrate understanding on a worksheet

Comprehension Checks

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