Sequencing With "Strega Nona"

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SWBAT sequence the events in the story "Strega Nona".

Big Idea

In this lesson, I have taken a boring worksheet and turned it into an engaging project that combines the comprehension skill of sequencing with an art project.

Teacher Background Knowledge and Preparation

Sequencing is an important skill that students need to master in order to understand how events in a story unfold and deepen comprehension.  In today's lesson students will sequence the major events in a story that they've previously read.  When students sequence they are addressing standard RL1.2. 

What excites me about today's lesson is that students will start by sequencing events through the use of pictures with events that they've already had experience with, such as getting ready for school.  Then students will get to do some independent practice sequencing a complex and classic story, and they will be able to create an art project as well. 

To prepare for this project you will need:

  • The book "The Carrot Seed" by Ruth Krauss.
  • The Book "Strega Nona" by Tomie Depaola. (I had several copies on hand).
  • Enough student work packets Strega Nona Sequencing.pdf for each student in your class.
  • 9x12 pieces of construction paper (any color) for your students to mount their work on. 
  • Long white or yellow pieces of yarn so students can make pieces of pasta to go over their pasta pots.
  • Either the Smartboard Story Sequencing Guided Practice.notebook or Activboard Story Sequencing Guided Practice.flipchart lesson for the guided practice section of the lesson.

Introduction and Guided Practice

20 minutes

Oral language development plays a large role on a student's reading success. The more you have students talk throughout the day, the more their reading skills will be impacted. I try to have my students speak as much as they throughout the day. I try to change my partner groups as much as possible so my students get used to working with every classmate. I try to find fun ways of creating partner groups, and I've included these resources for you here: Fun Ways to Group Students, here: Partner Picking Cards, and here: Sorting Sticks. .

I partnered my students up and then had them sit on the floor in front of the Smartboard. Partners took about 20 seconds to decide who would be partner 1 and who would be partner 2.  I have partner groups number off so each student can take turns being the speaker and the listener.  By doing this, students don't monopolize the conversation and are held accountable for their role in the conversation.

I said, "Today we are going to learn how to sequence events in a story.  When we sequence a story, we put the events in the correct order from beginning to end.  We will start by sequencing some pictures from experiences I know you've already had and from a book that I know you've already heard.  Let's get started."

I pulled up my Smartboard lesson and turned to slide 2.  I said, "Let's look at these pictures.  The boy is getting ready for school.  Person 1 - tell your partner how you think you should sequence these pictures.  When Person 1 is finished Person 2 can tell Person 1 what they think." Partners took turns to talk and then I called on a volunteer to come up to the board and sequence the pictures.  I asked the class, "What do you think?" Students verbalized their thinking until everyone was happy with the order of the events. We continued in the same manner with the next two slides.

Then I read the story "A Carrot Seed".  It's a simple book that only take about 5 minutes to read.  After reading we sequenced the pictures to the story on slide 5 of the Smartboard lesson using the same partner talk as we did with our other slides.

Reading and Discussing the Story and Independent Practice

45 minutes

After our guided practice I brought out "Strega Nona" and said, "We've read this book before but I wanted to make sure you knew this story well so we would be able to sequence the story after we've read it one more time."

We read the book and discussed it.  The kids enjoy this book and it was good practice to practice listening to complex text.  After reading the story I showed the students the work packet where the picture cards were.  I said, "You will go back to your seat with your partner.  You will cut out each of the pictures and then discuss how the pictures should be sequenced.  I have extra copies of the book, so if you want to check your work, you may."  Just as I would expect my students to go back into the text to look for evidence if I was asking text dependent questions about the text, I also expect them to go back and look for evidence to confirm their thinking.

Once the students thought the order of their cards was correct I let them glue their cards in the correct order on their pasta pots.


3 minutes

To close this lesson I said, "We've finished the comprehension part of our lesson.  What important comprehension skill did we work on today?  Why is it important that you are able to sequence the events in a story?  What would happen to your understanding if you weren't able to sequence?"

Extension Activity - Finishing Up the Art Work

The guided and independent practice parts of the lesson was how we addressed today's standards.  You will still need to allow your students time to finish the art project part of the activity if you choose to include this part (and I encourage you to do so! The kids LOVE it!).

Students will color their pasta pots and the pictures on each pasta pot.  They will sequence the pots one one top of each other in the correct order.  Then they can staple the pots together like a mini book.  After that, they can glue their pasta pot and the Strega Nona character onto their construction paper.  Finally, they can white or yellow yarn, cut it into small pieces and glue this over the pot, simulating the pasta. 

I have a video Our Thoughts On Strega Nona of 3 of my students explaining why they thought sequencing was important.  You can get a good idea of what the finished product will look like from the video.