A couple of days prior to teaching this lesson, I send a note home to parents to let them know we are having a pajama day at school. The children can wear their PJ's, bring a small blanket, and a "snuggly" (stuffed animal or such). When we get to the literacy block in our day, I let the children bring out these items and find a comfy place in the room. As long as their attention is focused on me reading the story, they may choose where they would like to "campout".
Today we are going to listen to a story by the author, Jane Yolen. Ms. Yolen wrote the book, How do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? Is this something you do at your house? Do you say good night? Do you say good night to dinosaurs? As you listen to this story, decide if you think these parents are really saying good night to the dinosaurs or if you think the dinosaurs mean something else.
I read the story through without interruption because I think the children loose some focus if I ask questions throughout the story. When time allows, I like to read the story a second time so I can ask the questions and tie them in to the pages.
Students enjoy the illustrations from this book for a couple of reasons. One, they love dinosaurs at this age. Most students know more about dinosaurs than the adults around them. Secondly, the children love seeing dinosaurs in an at-home setting. Like so many things that we read to young children, we ask them about whether the events in the story are real or imaginary. For children to understand the difference between reality and fantasy, they need to gain real world experience. If a child is continually exposed to fantasy with no real world experience to compare to it, it can be harder for her to tell the difference.
Boys and girls, do you think that there could really be dinosaurs in someone's house? If there could be, do you think that the dinosaurs would understand or listen to the parents? Who do you think the dinosaurs represent? Who are the dinosaurs acting like?
Do you ever give your parents a hard time about going to bed? Do you try to get out of going to sleep? That's what the dinosaurs were doing. What are somethings that you do to try to stay awake longer? How do you say good night?
To be successful in school, students need to be equipped with strong thinking skills. When a student has developed strong thinking skills, they are capable of utilizing, applying, and evaluating the knowledge they absorb. I ask my students challenging questions to help develop strong thinking skills.
Today you are going to write about how you say good night. Instead of writing, "How do dinosaurs say good night," you are going to write about how you say good night. I will write an example on the board.
The example says, "How does ________ say good night? I say ______________________." In the first blank you will write your name. In the second blank, you will tell me what you say. I would like you to try to sound-out the words that you are unsure about spelling. If you get really stuck, you can ask a friend for help. I want you to try to do this without asking me to spell words for you, but I will help you sound them out.
I am going to give you some very special paper to write out your story, because I know you are going to do your best work and best work needs special paper. This paper has a section at the top for a detailed picture as well. The more detailed the picture, the better your reader will understand what you are saying. You are now authors of your own stories!
After the children have written their own stories, I like them to practice their reading and understanding of what they have written by sharing with other students. If they can convey their ideas to their friends, they seem to develop better comprehension. As the children share their writing, I walk around and listen in on their reading and conversations. This gives me tremendous insight into what their abilities and understandings are of the lesson content. All three of these examples are pretty good, and meet the objective.
Since we are already having a fun-filled day in our PJ's reading How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? , I love to introduce my students to the "Dinosaur Stomp". This is a loud, rowdy song that is great for a brain break. It has lots of motions and encourages roaring, so if you have students who are noise sensitive, you might want to give them a heads-up. As always, it is a good idea to preview any video clips to know what you are showing and watch for youtube ads.