Lesson Plans for ATHUR'S BAD NEWS DAY level M

Text Type:
Fiction / Tale

Reading Level:

Word Count:


Text Summary
Arthur has been an only child for eight years and has just found out that he is going to have a little sister soon. At first, Arthur is unhappy about the many ways in which her arrival will disrupt his life. Eventually he decides that he will grow to love his new sister.

Lesson Objectives
Reading Strategies
Children should use a variety of strategies to determine word meaning and comprehend text. The targeted strategy for this lesson is: Asking does it make sense, does it sound right.

Children can use a variety of strategies for decoding words in this book. However, because it is told from a child’s perspective, asking does it make sense or does it sound right may be enough for children to realize they need to go back to reread and try again.

By making connections between what they are reading and what they already know, and through visualizing the story as they read, children will have a greater sense of comprehension.

Word and Print Skills

Vowel Digraphs vs. Vowel Diphthongs
Before children begin reading, talk to them about words that have two different vowels in them that are next to each other. Explain to them that these vowels are special and are called either vowel digraphs or vowel diphthongs. Explain the difference between the two. Digraphs are vowels that are next to each other but make up only one sound. Diphthongs are vowels that are together and make two sounds. Here are some examples from the story.

  • Digraphs (have a 2 to 1 sound): nearly, laugh, eat, mouth, friend, because.
  • Diphthongs (have a 2 to 2 sound): giant, going, our, ruin, beautiful (this is unique)

As children are reading the book, they should look for words that have two vowels together. If the book is consumable, you can have them underline, circle, or highlight the word. If they are not consumable, you can have them put post-it notes under the words or on the lines where the words are found.

Word Work
Throughout this book, contractions are used often. Although the title has an apostrophe s that is used in the form of a possessive, the majority of the others in the book are contractions. For more information and follow-up activities regarding contractions, see the Building Skills—Word Work section.

There are many words in this book that can be replaced with other words and the meaning would remain the same. Talk to the children about what a synonym is and have them look in the book for a sentence that they can place another word in and the sentence would still have the same idea or meaning. For example:
But then my parents told me some pretty disturbing news.
But then my parents told me some pretty
upsetting news.

You will likely address a number of comprehension skills as children work to understand the text. The targeted comprehension strategy for this lesson is: Summarizing.

After reading the story, children will have to summarize what the story was about. Even if you choose to have children read portions of the story rather than the whole thing at one time, which is recommended, you can have them summarize the portions they have read so far.

Visual Learning
As children are reading, looking at the illustrations will help them interpret what the author is saying as well as what Arthur is doing and feeling. The pictures do a great job of showing what the text is saying and will help readers interact with the story.

Targeted Vocabulary Words
Content Words

It is suggested that the following words should be gone over with children to increase their chance of a successful reading experience. By introducing these words, you may help children feel more comfortable with the text and any potentially difficult words they come to during their reading. These are only a few. You should look over the text to see if there are any other words that should be added to the list.
nearly, disturbing, tickling, syrup, usually, horrible, ugh, ruin, attention, crowded, diapers, peace, bundle, poking, decided

Before Reading

Introducing the Book
Introduce the book by showing the front and back covers and title page to children. Ask questions to get children interested in predicting what the story may be about. The covers are a bit misleading, so it will be interesting to hear what children have to say based on the title and the pictures you show them. Some children may also make a connection to other books they have read with similar titles. Take any and all predictions. There should be a lot at this stage.
Ask: What do you see on the covers? What does this tell you about the book’s contents? What do you think the book will be about?

Building Background
To help elicit prior knowledge and build background, ask questions to help children get in the right frame of mind for this story.
Ask: How many of you have siblings/brothers or sisters? Is anyone an oldest child? Do you remember what it was like when you were the only child at home with your parents? Do you remember when your parents told you that you were going to have a little brother or sister? How did you feel? Did you change the way you felt at any point? Why? Is anyone a youngest child? Can you imagine growing up without your older brothers or sisters? What do you think it would be like?
For only children, ask: How many of you are only children? How do you think you would feel if your parents told you that you were going to have a little brother or sister?

Book Walk
After introducing the book and building some background, you may want to briefly go through it by pointing out some of the words you reviewed with children earlier. This is not absolutely necessary. If you think that by going through a few of the pages you will help children feel more comfortable with the text, then you should.

Reading Strategies
Discuss any reading strategies children can use to help them read. Review any previous strategies that have been introduced to them in the past. Focus more on comprehension strategies than on word meaning strategies. Ask the following questions to help them remember strategies that will help them as they are reading independently.
  • How will the pictures help you understand the text?
  • How does what you read connect to what you already know?
  • What can you do when you come to a word you do not understand?
  • What can you do if you don’t understand a part you have just read?

If you feel it’s necessary, you can act as a role model to show how you might deal with a section or word that you get stuck on while reading. You can ask yourself questions aloud and show children how the strategies discussed will help them as they are reading.

During Reading

Student Reading
You might consider breaking up the text to be read over a series of three days rather than trying to complete it in one day. The first day children can read pages 3–7, the second day pages 8–12, and finally, pages 13–16. This will give children the opportunity to reread what they have read, complete the follow-up activities, and create meaning regarding what they have read so far. If children want to read on and are not overwhelmed or having difficulty, you can have them continue. Breaking up the text will benefit children who are still struggling and get easily frustrated as they are reading. Use your judgment as to what is appropriate; each group or child may be different. Once you have decided what is appropriate for the children you are working with, hand out the books and instruct them to read quietly, aloud, or silently at their own pace. Remind children to use their fingers to help them stay focused and keep their place. For children that are easily distracted, this is very important. If they have a finger on the word where they left off, they can always bring themselves back and remember where they were and what they were doing. Remind them that saying the words aloud, even at a whisper, will help them to listen to what they are saying to ensure that it is making sense.

As children are reading, they will be looking for meaning within the story. Throughout this story, Arthur has many reasons why he does not want a little sister. You can focus on main ideas as well as cause and effect when discussing this story. Have children underline, highlight, or use post-its to help them identify and remember important parts of the story for summarizing or discussing later. Depending on whether or not the books are consumable, you can advise children to use post-its or write within the pages of the books. Encourage children to make comments about what they are thinking as they read. This will add to the discussion and/or summarizing later. If applicable, using different colored highlighters or pencils will help children distinguish the different ideas they are identifying as they are reading.

After Reading

Comprehending the Text
After reading the story, through summarizing or discussing, have children explain what the story meant to them. By asking the following questions, you will find out what children are understanding about the story. If you choose to break the story up, some of the questions and the order may vary. Use your judgment as to what is appropriate depending on where children are within the reading.
Ask: What is happening/happened in the story? What is a typical day like for Arthur? What is the bad news that Arthur found out? Why is it causing Arthur to be unhappy? How is this news going to affect Arthur? What happens in the end and how does Arthur feel now? What do you think the author’s message to us is?

This is also an appropriate time to explore and discuss other print issues such as punctuation, abbreviations, vocabulary, figurative language, and all the other things children encounter as they read.
Ask: Did you notice anything interesting about the text in this book? Was there any punctuation in the book that you found interesting?

If it doesn’t come up, you can initiate a discussion about how the book was written from Arthur’s perspective. Ask if that made the book easier or more difficult to read. Did children like it or not?

Visual Learning
Much can be gained from illustrations in books. Ask questions to see how the illustrations in this book did or did not help children in their reading.
Ask: What does the picture of _______ tell you about his or her mood? How does the author’s description of the character match the illustrator’s depiction? How would you have drawn the character?

Building Skills

Vowel Digraphs vs. Vowel Diphthongs
After discussing the differences and similarities of vowel digraphs and vowel diphthongs, have children use letters of the alphabet on index cards or something similar to create words that have vowel digraphs or diphthongs in them. They can make a list and play with a partner or group. After a certain amount of time together taking turns, they can count up how many they have and compare with another pair or group. You can also make this like a form of "Scattegories" and have all the groups compare words and check off the words that each group has in common. Have them look for word that were not found by others and are considered "unique," "uncommon," or "rare."

Word Work
Review what contractions are from the earlier discussion with children. Have children give you a few examples of what a contraction is. Have children pair up and go through the book to look for all the apostrophes. Have one person write down the word as the other points to it. They do not need to rewrite duplicated words. After they have written all the contractions they found, they will need to write down the two words that make up the contraction on a separate piece of paper.

After discussing what a synonym is with children, have them look in the book for a sentence in which they can place another word and the sentence would still have the same idea or meaning. For example:
But then my parents told me some pretty disturbing news.
But then my parents told me some pretty
upsetting news.

Once again, in their pairs have children find sentences and think of, or use a thesaurus to help them come up with, a synonym for one or more of the words in the sentence.
Have children come up with sentences that have adjectives in them. (You will most likely have to explain that adjectives are describing words such as disturbing and upsetting above.) Then have them exchange papers with their partner. They will have to come up with a synonym for the adjective used in their partner’s sentence.

Expand the Reading

Writing Connection
Have children write about a time when they felt somewhat the same way that Arthur feels in the book. By giving these instructions, you are leaving it open enough that children can choose the feeling of sadness, worry, or happiness that Arthur is feeling during the course of the story.
You can also have them write an extension of what happens next in the story. Ask: What happens after Arthur’s sister is moved into his room? What were some things that Arthur was worried about that didn’t happen once his sister was actually there?
Remind children that if they are writing an extension, they will need to keep the same style that the author used, which is writing from Arthur’s point of view. They will also be responsible for proper grammar, capitalization, and punctuation.

Art Connection
Explain that since Arthur has now decided to keep his new baby sister, he wants to draw a picture to welcome her into his family and room. Explain to children that they are going to pretend they are Arthur and draw a picture for their new baby sister. Remind them that they are welcoming her into their family and into their room. If you want, you can display these drawings on a bulletin board.

Reading Independently
Have children read the book independently or with a partner. You can also encourage them to read other books of their choice at the appropriate level.

Home Connection
Send the book home to be read to or with parents and siblings. Once they are home, have them look around their house and think about what it would be like to have a new baby sister come to their home. Have them look at their room and think about what it would be like to share it with a new baby.

For some children, this may be a reality and it may be quite easy for them to imagine what the experience would be like. Unless their younger sibling is less than nine months old, tell them to imagine another baby sister coming home. This may make it slightly more challenging for them.

For others, this may be challenging enough and you won’t need to give them any more prompting. Then have them write a paragraph regarding how they felt when they imagined a new little sister at home. They should bring the paper back to school to use in a class discussion.

  • Monitor children’s responses in the Comprehending the Text section to assess how well they understand the text or story.
  • Monitor reading to see if children are using the effective reading strategies.
  • Assess children’s knowledge of projected objectives by asking them to give you three contractions and three synonyms. For the synonyms, you will need to give children three words in order for them to give you the synonyms—for example: hot, nice, and yummy.

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