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Students will be able to add or substitute individual sounds to a rime to make new words.

Big Idea

Change a letter – make a new word.


15 minutes

Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.

In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet go.” By saying walking feet I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.

When all of the students are seated on their dot in the rug area I let the students know that we will be watching a short video clip on camouflage. I ask the students, “Does anyone know what the word camouflage means?”

Here in St. Mary’s County, MD there are a lot of military children and also lots of children who have parents who hunt so I find I often have at least one or two students who already know the meaning of the word. If your school district area is very urban then you may not have students who are familiar with the term so you will need to explain that camouflage is a physical adaptation used by animals. The animals use coloration to hide by blending in with their surroundings.

In my classroom I select one or two students to respond to the question. I do not take too many responses as this is just a brief introduction to the lesson.

“Those were great responses. Let’s watch this short video clip to see two of the main reasons animals would use camouflage.”

Once the video is over I ask the students, “So what are two main reasons animals use camouflage?”

“That’s right Owen; they hide to hunt or stalk their prey and others use it to hide from their predators.”

 “We are now going to read a book about animals that use camouflage to hide in the forest.”

I use this video to begin developing some conceptual knowledge about the topic we are going to explore. Watching the video helps the students begin to understand how animals use camouflage as a way to hide. This hiding can be advantageous to both predators and prey. Once students understand why animals hide they become familiar with the word and this can help students feel more comfortable with word manipulation.   


40 minutes

“This book is called I See Animals Hiding. The book is written by Jim Arnosky. Looking at the cover of this book can anyone tell me what they see or think?”

“Alex says the book is probably going to be about animals and it could be a non-fiction book.”

“Emily thinks the book is a non-fiction book and we might see some Maryland animals in it. Why do you think it is a non-fiction book?”

“We certainly have read lots of non-fiction books lately.”

“Adam thinks the book is not going to be a non-fiction book. Why is that Adam?”

“He says it is not non-fiction because it does not have a real picture on the cover. Do you mean a photograph? Well let’s take a very quick picture walk through the pages to see if there are real pictures inside.”

We quickly flick through the pages making a brief stop on each page.

“Adam is right there are no photographs in this book. But does that mean it is not non-fiction?”

“That’s right Finnley. Non-fiction books do not necessarily have to have photographs. Long before cameras were invented scientists had to rely on drawings and paintings to make visual recordings of their observations. That is why I will often say to use to “scientific coloring” when you are recording your observations.”

It is important for students to recognize the difference between a non-fiction and a fictional book because eventually they will be doing research projects and they will need to be able to make sure they are getting information from creditable factual sources; not story books.  

Now we go ahead and read the book.


I make sure to read the large print and also the smaller print which asks the reader to find certain animals. I allow the students’ time to take part in the activities.

Example of book page     Example of large text     Example of small text

We will discuss new vocabulary words as we come across them in the text; words such as, protective, wariest, squint, speckled, sneak, sway, etc.


Once the story is over I ask the students again, “What does camouflage help animals do?”

“That’s right – hide.”

“Can anyone tell me how I might spell the word hide?” While I am talking I place the book to one side and open up a new blank screen on the SMARTBoard.

I select one student to respond. As the student tells me the letters I sound them out and write them on the board. Many students will forget to place the silent letter e on the end of the word.

“Let me sound out the word we have written on the board here. /h/ - /i/ - /d/ (I use the short /i/ sound). I have the word hid here. Can anyone tell me what I need to do to this word to change it into the word hide?”

I will occasionally have a student who already knows about the silent letter e. If not I simply tell the student, “I need to put an e on the end of the word. The silent e at the end of this word tells the other vowel in the word to say its long sound – its name – instead of its short sound.”

I write the letter e at the end of the word and sound it our again, only this time I use the long /i/ sound. “/H/ - /i/ - /d/. Hide. Great now we have the right word.”

“Now if I were to take away the /h/ sound and replace it with the /r/ sound, what word would I have?”

“That’s right Alice. I would have the word ride. Can anyone use the word in a sentence?”

“Fantastic Finn. I like to ride my bike. That was a great sentence. Can anyone give me another letter we could try at the beginning of our –ide chunk to give me a new word?”

We do words like side, tide, bide, wide, and then move onto blends such as, bride, glide, slide, etc.   Importance of word families   

I will have students who may give me words such as tried, shied, died, etc, and I will briefly mention these words because they do have the same ending sound. I will show the students the difference in the spelling and quickly move on.


“Those are all great words you gave me. You can see that by simply changing the beginning letter, or letters, at the beginning of a chunk we can get a whole new word. Today you are going to make a word wheel using the –ide word family chunk. You will find all the pieces you need to make your –ide word family wheel as well as scissors, brads, crayons and pencils. What is one thing you will need to remember to do before you take your word wheel home?” 

Turn to Learn Word Family Wheels   ISBN - 10: 0590643762   ISBN - 13: 9780590643764

“That’s right; write your name on the back of the word wheel. That way if it falls out of your cubby I will know whose cubby to put it back into.”

“I will be working with you at this station to ask you to give me an –ide word family word.”

“Does anyone have any questions?”  


Once the students understand the directions I send them over to the work stations one group at a time to maintain a safe and orderly classroom environment. It sounds a bit like this:

“Station number one go have some word wheel fun.

Station number two you know what to do.

Station number three hope you were listening to me.

Station number four shouldn’t be here anymore.”

These are not always done in that order so the students have to pay attention to when their station actually gets called.  

-ide word family    Students working on -ide wheels     Students working on -ide wheels 2     Student working on -ide word wheel      Student working on -ide word wheel 2     


10 minutes

When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look listen” technique mentioned above. “When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair, and use walking feet to go and take a spot on your dot.”

I remind students to put their completed work in the “completed work” bin and those that are not complete go into the “under construction” bin.

Once everyone is seated on their spot I tell the students that their “exit slip” to get their snack is to tell me an –ide word family word. They will need to tap out each sound for me and then tell me the word as a whole. Since the –ide word family is limited I let the students know that it is okay to repeat some of the words or even make up a nonsense word (I sometimes call these Doctor Seuss or make believe words) 


5 minutes

Call the each student over during a time which fits into your classroom schedule. I call my students over to work with me during free choice centers time or at integrated work station time (only if I have enough parent volunteers and I am not working a station myself).  

Use a copy of the recording sheet for the students to work on. Write the chunk being worked on in the center on the top line. Word Family Work Recording Sheet

Use a copy of the assessment sheet to write anecdotal notes on. Word Family Work

Point to the –ide word family paper on the table and tell the student, “These letters make the –ide sound. Listen /i/ /d/ -ide. The letter e is a silent e. The job of the letter e is to make the letter i say its name. Can you please add a letter to the beginning of this sound to make a word?”

I have higher functioning students write the words themselves directly onto the paper.

With students who have difficulty writing, I have them verbally tell me the words and then I write their responses. Sometimes I have the students try and write the words on dry erase boards just to see what they can do.  Once he/she has made one word I would ask the student to change the beginning sound to make another word. “Can you please change the first letter to make a new –ide word?”


I have the students write about how they would use camouflage if they were an animal. Would they use their camouflage to hide so they could hunt, or hide to be protected?


Make a fawn paper bag puppet and discuss how the fawn’s spots help it hide from predators. “The fawn’s spots look like the dappled sunlight shining through the trees onto the forest floor. All the fawn has to do is lay down on the forest floor in a thicket and it is very hard to spot.” 

Fawn paper bag puppets


At recess we play the Game-and-Go-Seek. Another game is Predator-Prey.

In this game one student pretends to be an owl sitting in the tree. The owl closes their eyes and counts to 20. The other students are the prey. They have to hide as close to the owl as possible. When the owl opens their eyes they are allowed to turn 360 degrees on their spot and try to “spot” all the animals within sight. Anyone spotted by the owl simply stands up. The student closest to the owl but not “spotted” is the winner and becomes the next owl.


At the computer station I have this page set up from the Sheppard Software website. I adapt the activity so the students do not have to worry about reading the little informative sentences (they are too hard for many of my students to read). I just show the students how to click on the Next Question button so they can move onto the next image.   


Another good computer game is on the pbskids.org website. This one is a little easier.