Text Type:
Fact / Informational Text

Reading Level

Word Count:


Text Summary
How could anything survive in the desert? The Mighty Saguaro is an informational text about the saguaro cactus. It offers many facts about this fascinating plant, including physical characteristics, where it lives, how it grows, what it can be used for, and other interesting facts. The text is peppered with details about this unique cactus that even some desert dwellers may not know.

Content words

Worksheet 1-summarizing information from the text

Worksheet 2-antonyms, multiple meaning words

Lesson Objectives

You will likely address a number of comprehension skills as students work to understand the text. The targeted comprehension strategy for this lesson is: Restating facts and details in the text to clarify and organize ideas.

Word Work

Identify and list antonyms

Identify and list synonyms

Visual Literacy
Read and interpret a map

Read and interpret a bar graph

Before Reading

Before handing out the book, introduce it by showing the front cover.

Ask: What do you see on the cover? What do you think the book will be about?

Turn the book over to the back cover. Ask: What other information does this give us about the book?

Elicit Prior Knowledge and Build Background
Make a mind map with students about the saguaro cactus. A mind map is a map of ideas all related to a central topic. In this case, the focus is on the saguaro cactus. Write Saguaro Cactus in the middle of the chalkboard. Draw lines from the center word and write ideas that students brainstorm on or attached to the lines. Have students suggest what they already know about saguaro cactuses.

Skim and Scan
Have students turn to the contents page.

Explain that a contents page shows where they might find information on a particular subject within the book.

Ask: In what chapter might you find information on how the cactus survives in the desert? What page does that chapter start on?

Have students find the word pollinates on page 10. That a glossary is similar to a dictionary, but that it defines special or difficult words used in a book. A glossary appears at the back of this book. Ask: Where might we find the meaning of this word?

Have students find the glossary by looking up the page number in the contents page. Have them find the word and read the meaning from the glossary.

During Reading

Set the Purpose
Introduce Worksheet 1. Explain to students what the worksheet requires them to do.

Say: You will need to read the text The Mighty Saguaro Cactus and then fill in the spaces on this worksheet. It may be easier to read one chapter at a time and fill in the area relating to each chapter as you go.

Hand out the books and have students read quietly at their own pace.

After Reading

Building Comprehension
Refer to the questions on each section of the worksheet. Ask students to share their summaries of each section.

Ask students to restate facts and details in their own words.

Ask: What animals live in the desert in the same area as the saguaro cactus?

Ask: What is the Cactus Hotel and who stays there?

Ask: What is the Cactus Diner and what is served there?

Ask: What are three things the saguaro cactus uses to help it survive?

Ask: Where might you find a saguaro today?

Ask: What are some ways in which saguaros are killed?

Word Work

Explain to students that antonyms are words that have the opposite meaning.

Use the following example: dry / flood, page 6.

Ask: Can you think of any other words that are antonyms to these words? Can you find any other words in the book that are antonyms?

Explain to students that homophones are words that sound the same but have different meanings and are spelled differently.

Use the following example from the story there on page 11. Say: Read the sentence on page 11 with the word there in it. Ask: What is the meaning of the word in that sentence? How is it spelled? Are there words that sound the same, but are spelled differently? What are they? What do they mean?

Write students' suggestions on a chart.

Ask: Can you find any other words in the story that are homophones? What are they? What are their meanings?

Introduce the second worksheet. Explain to students that it is related to the work just covered on antonyms and homophones.

Learning through Visual Devices

Read and Interpret a Map
Point out the map of the Sonoran Desert on page 7. Explain to students that there are features of maps that make them easier to read and get information from.


Title: Tells what the map is about.

Legend or key: Shows what particular markings on the map stand for.

Using these features, ask students to suggest information they can see in the map.

Ask: Using the features we have talked about, what information can you see in this map?

Read and Interpret a Bar Graph
Point out the bar graph on page 11. Explain to students that there are features of graphs that make them easier to read and get information from.


Title: Tells what the graph is about.

Title for each axis: Tells what each axis represents.

Bars: Represent the information.

Using these features, ask students to suggest information they can see in the bar graph.

Ask: Using the features we have talked about, what information can you see in this bar graph?

Writing Link
Have students write a letter to a friend after a visit to the Sonoran Desert.

They should think about the information they wish to share with the friend.

Students should include information such as the following:

Where they went

What they saw

How they felt


  • Review students' completed comprehension worksheet in order to assess whether they understood the reading.
  • Have students write sentences or paragraphs using selected words from the vocabulary list, or word work examples from the lesson, in order to demonstrate their understanding of word meaning.
  • Assess students' knowledge of antonyms and homophones.

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