Lesson Plans for TO THE CIRCUS Level K

Text Type:
Fiction / Serial

Reading Level:

Word Count:


Text Summary
This is the fourth book in the Hoppers series. The Hoppers want to go to the circus, but the family can’t afford to go. Grandpa Grizzly comes to the rescue. But then, Snubby Nose decides he wants to join the circus. Instead, the clowns give him musical instruments so he can play music at home instead. 

Lesson Objectives

Reading Strategies
Students should use a variety of strategies to determine word meaning and comprehend text. The target strategy for this lesson is: making connections between what they are reading and what already know. 

Word and Print Skills

Variant vowel long /o/
Word Work

Content Words
trapeze artist, elephant, lemonade, popcorn, show, flute, horns
These are words that are associated with the topic of the circus. You may want to review and discuss the words and have students add them to the classroom word wall or dictionary. 

You will likely address a number of comprehension skills as students work to understand the text. The target comprehension strategy for this lesson is: the effect of character actions on the problem and solution. 

Before Reading

Build Background
Involve students in a discussion about the circus to elicit prior knowledge and build background. If students have read other books in the Hoppers series, help them make connections between what they have read and what they are about to read.
Ask: Have you ever been to a circus? What are some of the things that you would expect to see at a circus?
Write students’ ideas on chart paper and refer to the list after reading. Talk about the Hoppers and previous books.
Ask: What can you tell me about the Hoppers family? Do you think the Hoppers would want to go to a circus? What happened in some of the other Hoppers stories? Who had a problem in the story about the umbrellas? Who solved the problem? Who had a problem in the story about the kites? Who solved that problem?  

Introduce the Book
Show students the cover illustration and have them read the title to make initial predictions about the main idea or topic. Have students draw on past experience with the Hoppers stories to make predictions about this one.
Ask: What do you see on the cover? What do you think might be happening? Do you think Snubby Nose might have a problem or get into some kind of trouble in this story? What might happen to him? 

Reading Strategies
Ask students what strategies they will use to read the text. Ensure that they suggest the following strategies:

  • Ask the questions: Does it make sense? Does it sound right? Does it look right?
  • Reread any sentence or page that was difficult, to make sure that they understand the text
  • Use what they know about letters and sounds to read new words
  • Connect the text with what they already know

Discuss how connecting information in the text to what they already know can help them understand the text.
Say and ask: You know something about the Hoppers from reading other books about them. How do you think knowing this might help you when you read this book? 

During Reading

Student Reading
Have students read the book independently. Tell them you want them to read to see what problem the Hoppers have in this story and who has the problem.
You may suggest they read the book twice. If the book is being used as a consumable, you may have students mark or highlight words that were difficult or places where they have questions. 

After Reading

Reflect on Reading Strategies
Discuss the strategies students used while they were reading.
Ask: Were there any words you had trouble with? What strategies did you use to work them out? Did you use what you already knew about the topic and the characters to work out some new words? Show me a word that you were able to figure out. Did you find that knowing what the Hoppers were like helped you read the story? 

Comprehending the Text
Have volunteers retell the story. Then discuss the problem and the solution and what effect the characters had on both.
Say: In stories, the writer introduces a problem for the characters. This is what makes the story interesting and keeps the plot moving along. What was the first problem in this story? (The Hoppers didn’t have money for the circus.) How was it solved? (Grandpa Grizzly gave them the money.) From what you already know about Grandpa Grizzly, did you expect that he would be the one to help the Hoppers? What can you tell about what kind of character Grandpa Grizzly is by his actions in this story? Were you expecting something to happen with Snubby Nose? Why? What can you tell about Snubby Nose from what happened in the story? Would it have made sense if Grandpa Grizzly had cried and refused to go home? Why? In a series where the characters are used over and over, the reader comes to expect that certain characters will act in certain ways. The writer must be careful to make the characters consistent all the way through the series.
Give students worksheet 1 and tell them that you want them to write the problem in the first column, how the problem was solved in the second column, and what the solution tells them about the characters in the third column. 

Building Skills

Variant Vowel long /o/
Have students look on page 3 to find two words that have long /o/. When students have found the words, write knows and nose on the board. Discuss the two spellings of the long /o/ sound. Challenge students to find other examples of long /o/ words in the story: know, home, go, so, don’t, show, over, told. Write these on the board next to knows and nose and discuss their spellings. Have students brainstorm a list of words with long o. Have them tell you under which word you should write the words, according to their spellings. Discuss which seems to be the most common spelling of long /o/. Remind students that words can have one of these spellings but not be long /o/. As an example, point out the word some on page 8. 

Word Work

Have students turn to page 4 and reread the last sentence on the page. Point out the word couldn't and remind students that this is a contraction. It is made up of two other words. Ask students what the two words are (could, not) and write them on the chalkboard. Then show students how the apostrophe replaces the o to make the word couldn't. Have students find other examples of contractions in the text: I'm, didn't, don't, can't, you'll. Have them tell you what two words make up each contraction. Give out worksheet 2 and have students write in the two words that make up the contractions listed and provide the contractions for the second set of words. 

Write the words nose and knows on the board and have students read them. Explain that there are some words that sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings. Have students tell you the meanings of these two words. Then have students turn to page 4 and read the last sentence. Highlight the word wait and ask students what it means in this sentence. Ask them to think of another word that is pronounced the same but has a different meaning and is spelled differently (weight). Give students worksheet 2 and have them write another word or words for each that is spelled differently and has a different meaning. The word list is taken from the book, and the page number is provided for students to use as a reference. 

Content Words
Create a topic web on the subject of the circus. Refer to the list made prior to reading. Have students look through the book to find words that relate to the topic of the circus and add them to the web. Talk about the meaning of each word and its importance to the topic of the circus. Then have students brainstorm other circus words to add to the web. They may suggest: hoop, high wire, camel, juggler, stilts, big top, tiger, horses, etc. Have them refer to the web when they do the writing activity.

Expand the Reading

Writing Connection
Have students write an advertisement for a circus event. The ad should say when and where it is happening and provide a description of some of the acts that people will see. Have students refer to the circus web to find vocabulary to use in their ads. 

Social Studies Connection
There are different points of view on having animals as part of a circus. You may want students to explore the question of having performing animals. Call for ideas on whether animals should be kept in cages and made to perform. Discuss whether it is possible to have an entertaining circus without animal acts. Students could go online to research the issue from different points of view. 

Reading Independently
Invite students to reread the book independently or with a partner. Students may also take their books home to read with their families. 


  • Monitor students' responses in the Comprehending the Text section to assess how well they understand the problem and solution of the story. Note if they see the connection between the characters and the problem. Review their completed worksheet 1 to assess their ability to identify problem and solution. Note if they understand how the character plays a part in solving or creating the problem.
  • Review students' completed worksheet 2 to assess their understanding of contractions.
  • Listen to students' responses during the Reflect on Reading Strategies section to note the kind of reading strategies they use to make sense of the text.

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