Predict the Ending - It Goes Around and Around!

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SWBAT describe how words and phrases supply rhythm and meaning in a story and help the students to predict an ending based on how the characters change over the course of a text.

Big Idea

Some stories are cyclical - the ideas go around and around! That makes it easy to predict the ending!


  • If You Give A Cat A Cupcake by Laura Numeroff
  • ‘Predicting Around’ worksheet 
  • Set up the whiteboard
  • paper plates for each student (optional)
  • a few pencils that are dull and some paper
  • Lesson vocabulary words from the Reading/Writing word wall: predicting, characters, events,  beginning, end, literature


I chose this book because my students LOVE this series and it is very cyclical. The ending mirrors the beginning. I did take a few moments at the beginning of the lesson to talk about the other books in the series - If You Give A Moose A Muffin, If You Give A Pig A Pancake, etc. and a few commented that the end of the story was like the beginning. The students may have already read this story - that's fine, they'll still enjoy predicting and they probably don't remember all of the details.

This lesson is in the middle of my predicting unit. I have used several of the strategies for reading comprehension, story structure, and figurative language in the other lessons. Here are links to those lessons for your reference: Peek Inside and Predict (Lesson 1 of 2)Peek Inside and Predict (Lesson 2 of 2)Predict the Ending and Use the Characters' VoicesMaking Shadows with Foreshadowing While We PredictPredict Using Characters' Action and Rhythm, Go Figure with Figurative Language and Tie it Together with Transition Words.

Let's Get Excited !

5 minutes

Underlined words below are lesson vocabulary words that are emphasized and written on sentence strips for my Reading & Writing word wall. I pull off the words off the wall for each lesson, helping students understand this key 'reading and writing' vocabulary can be generalized across texts and topics.  The focus on acquiring and using these words is part of a shift in the Common Core Standards towards building students’ academic vocabulary.  My words are color coded ‘pink’ for literature/’blue’ for reading strategies/’orange’ for informational text/'yellow' for writing/’green’ for all other words.


Gain student interest

  • "Today we are going to do some predicting.  I want to act out a situation, and then I'll stop part way and you can predict what I'll do next.  Ready?"
  • Get a pencil that's dull, try to write, act frustrated and put it down.  Grab another pencil that's dull, try to write, put it down, grab another pencil  ... stop.
  • "What do you think will happen?  Take ideas.  "How did you predict that?"
  • "That was a cycle of events.  Today we're are going to read a story about a cat and cupcake.  The events in the story are in a cycle - the beginning of the story follows around to the end." Refer to the whiteboard.
  • "In stories, the events are connected.  Today we will look at the ideas in a book and see how they or how they change over the course of the story."


I want the students to look at story structure in this lesson. In this lesson, we'll talk about how the beginning introduces the story and the ending concludes the action and then analyze the structure of the story and how they relate to each other. (RL.2.5) I'll model the skill and guide them through the practice, but then I expect active participation from all students as they complete the worksheet, which has been a big emphasis in my classroom as we transition to the Common Core State Standards.

Teacher's Turn

10 minutes

Introduce the ideas:

  • "Here's a literature book that you may have seen before.  It's part of a series of books that have a cycle of events."  Refer to the whiteboard



  • “Before I read, I always 'pre read'.  Let’s think about what we SEE, KNOW, and READ.  Look and the cover and illustrations and let’s read just a page or two and let’s put down some ideas.” Here's our SEE/KNOW/READ chart on the whiteboard.
  • "Now that we have detail, let's use those ideas to write down how the character changes with the main events in the story and see if they make a cyclical story."
  • Pass out the 'Predict Around' worksheet.
  • “The first event of my story cycle should have details about the beginning of the story. The characters or setting.  What happened with cat on the first page?- 'Cat wants a cupcake'.  Write that on one of the boxes and put #1. " Use this SPECIFIC wording because that will come up in the end of the story too.
  • "Let's read a bit more and look at the illustrations" ....Read the first few pages, emphasizing the repeated word, 'he'll and also you'll"..Pause a moment and think.... "What is he'll and you'll mean?" 
  • "Now I only have 4 boxes, so I can't tell about each page."


Teachable moment - "What is a contraction?  What does that mark mean - apostrophe?" I thought my kids knew these, but they were not secure on those.  I wrote the words and explained them, adding 'she'll' 'we'll'.


Guided Practice

  • "Let's figure out the problem. What problem happens again and again? This helps the kids identify the main problem, not just an event. 
  • "I'll read some more and you can help me add another idea about what is happening with cat."
  • "Let's add another event-what is cat doing now? This event is what happens once or twice. Is he responding to the events in the story? He's finding things and then changes him mind about what he wants to do.  Cat wants to go to the beach, the museum, the lake...."  What can we write? 'He wants to go many places'.  Let's add that to another box and write #2."
  • Here's the partially completed whiteboard (with the 3rd box completed)

The Students Take a Turn

20 minutes

Explain the task:

  • "Now its your turn to finish the cycle."
  • "I'll read the last part of the book, and you'll fill out the remaining squares. Think about what happens to make the character change. Listen for the rhythm and repeated words that the author uses. Make sure to number your boxes."
  • "We'll check the ending of the story to see if the events are in a cycle."


Read and Students work

  • Read more and stop at the page that says ... 'When you get home, he'll empty the sand from his shoes.  He might spill some on the floor.' Don't show the next pages!!
  • "See what 2 events you can add?  I'll add some too."  (see my reflection - I had to prompt my students quite a bit) Here's what the whiteboard looked like.
  • "The squares are done but I didn't quite finish the end of the story. Can you predict what happens?  What do you know about cyclical stories?"
  • Take ideas….”I'll read the story and see if it was cyclical.  Remember we always monitor and adjust our predictions - if your ideas were not quite right, we can change them."  Finish the story and query for ideas... 
  • "He'll got sprinkles and got the cupcake again.  We're back at the top of the cycle!" 
  • Here's what the completed whiteboard looked like.


As students retell the stories, they are summarizing the key ideas and supporting details. (RL.2.2) This is hard for 2nd graders.  They tend to want to retell all the events and I specifically am forcing them to chose important details by providing a limited number of boxes to write details. Students have to choose the main events with text details and do 'close reading', thinking about what's REALLY important to retell the story.

Apply It!

10 minutes

Explain the activity: 

  • "Now that you have your events, cut them out. You have a choice, you can either glue them on the circle or the paper plate. The events show the structure of the story - the beginning, the events in the middle and the end."
  • "Take a moment to draw an illustration that show what happened in the story."   Give students time to cut and glue. – Some of my students put their circles on a paper plate but other students just glued the event to the circle.
  • Here's an example of a student project.



  • "Let's take a moment and reflect on the story."
    • "Did you like the story structure - that the beginning was the same as the end?"
    • "Why did the author use rhythm?  How did it make you feel when you read it?"
    • "How did the repeated words affect the story as we read it? Why do you think the author used those?"
    • "Think about how the 2 main characters changed in response to events. How did the girl feel when the cat wanted to go the beach? How did the cat respond when the girl brought things? How did the girl feel at the end of the story? How did the cat feel?"


Turn and Share (students turn to a friend and discuss)

    • "Ask you friend at least one question, such as 'What was your favorite part of the story? or Did you like the cat? or Did you think the story was funny? Can you think of any other cyclical stories?"
    • "Questions help us understand the story better and its interesting to ask friends questions."
    • "Asking these questions help us see how the characters change as the events change."


This discussion about how words and phrases supply rhythm and meaning in a story (RL.2.4) is a big part of the lesson, so take the students' ideas and use those as formative assessment. Are they able to interpret the words and phrases in the text and analyze how the author's specific word choices shaped the meaning or tone of the story?  It's hard for 2nd graders to analyze and interpret the author's purpose, so they'll need modeling and practice to dive into the text to make inferences and use ‘close reading’, a shift in the Common Core State Standards.  


Scaffolding and Special Education: This lesson could be scaffolded up or down, depending on students' ability.  For students with educational challenges, its important to include them in the discussion, but use prompting. I drew pictures on the board to help them with answers.  It's also helpful to check on their progress with the 'Apply It' activity, as its often difficult for them to write. I'll often write clues or word prompts on the slate at their desk.

For students with great educational ability, this lesson is great to challenge their thinking.  Can they think of other stories that are cyclical?  Suggest The Mitten by Jan Brett or other stories by the same author as the one in this lesson.