Predict Using Characters' Actions and Rhythm

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SWBAT predict how a character will develop over the course of a text and describe how rhythm and rhyming supply meaning to a story.

Big Idea

Characters' motivations and rhythm - they help students predict!



This is one of my students' FAVORITE books. It has really great rhythm and rhyme and there's a great ending to predict. I will warn you that there is a page where the word 'butt' is inferred, but the author switches the word. I read it for fun, let the kids laugh for a minute and then moved on.

This is one of the lessons in the middle of my prediction unit and my students have used the SEE/KNOW/READ strategy and are familiar with using rhythm and rhyme in stories. For more background on these strategies, take a look at Peek Inside and Predict (Lesson 1 of 2)Peek Inside and Predict (Lesson 2 of 2)Predict the Ending - It Goes Around and AroundPredict the Ending and Use the Characters' VoicesMaking Shadows with Foreshadowing While We PredictGo Figure with Figurative Language and Tie it Together with Transition Words.

Let's Get Excited

10 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.

Bring in student interest

  • "I have some pictures to show you of different characters. When we read, it helps us to understand better if we can anticipate how the characters act. Certain characters respond to events in ways that we expect. They have certain motivations  (put the word up on the board) - reasons why they act like they do."
  • Show all of the powerpoint slides and prompt with ideas about animals and people have certain ways of acting.
    • "Look at these pictures and tell me some ideas about these characters. When we see a grandma, how does she act?  What is her motivation? - is she usually helpful or nice?" 
    • Continue discussion - focus especially on the little boy who's dirty.
  • "Today I have a literature story about one of these characters.  My story is SUPER fun to read because it has lots of rhythm and rhyming. Reading a story with rhythm and rhyming is makes it sound like a song! These stories are also easy to predict because the rhyming gives them a pattern."


The examination of character motivation was new to my students. We are examining how they respond to events and challenges and analyzing how and why character develop and interact over the course of the text. (RL.2.3) I am looking for students to develop content literacy expertise by examine the characterization and author's purpose in developing characters. By examining the character's motivation and how they react to situations, students are doing 'close reading', going beyond simple enjoyment of the text to examination of how the characters develop and interact.

Teachers' Turn

15 minutes

Introduce the concepts

  • Here's a video of my introduction where I reviewed the pre-reading strategy and discussed characters.  Characters always change over the course of a text and it helps if we understand how those characters usually act."
  • "Today we'll make some predictions based on some evidence from the text and background knowledge."
    • "the little boy's character and his motivation" 
    • "the mom in the story and her motivation"
    • "how and why the characters change"
    • "the text in the beginning of the story, illustrations, rhyming and repeated words.
  • "We will then verify or check our predictions based on the text evidence."


The Core Standards also include an emphasis on figurative language as a way to convey meaning. (RL.2.4) Looking at rhythm and rhyme and describing how these words and phrases supply meaning to a story allow the students to practice 'close reading' and looking in the text for evidence, a key shift in the Common Core State Standards toward independent reading and comprehension.



  • "Let's use our SEE, KNOW, READ strategy to preview the text and get some evidence."  Refer to the chart on the board.
    • "On the cover I see the illustration of a little boy with paint.  I see."  Add those to the chart.  
    • "I know that dogs and little boys can be friends and I know that paint makes a mess.  I know…"  Add to the chart. 
    • "Let me read 2 pages and see what I learn."  Read a few pages.  "I'll write…..on the chart."
  • "What about the rhyming?  Did you hear the words/phrases that were repeated?  I can predict words because they rhyme or look for repeated phrases."
  • "There is a rhythm to this story that makes it enjoyable.  Listen to me read this without rhythm..." Read a section again without expression.  "How does that sound? When the author adds rhythm, repeated words and rhyming, it’s easier to feel the tone of the story and to understand the meaning."
  • Pass out the 'Predicting' worksheet.
  • "I'll try some predicting based on my evidence now from the beginning of the story.  I'll write an idea on my chart and check to see if it’s right.”  
    • Read to the page where the mom puts the paint in the closet..."Based on what I see in the pictures, what I know about the characters and the rhyming words that I read, I predict that the boy will have the dog get the paint..." This is incorrect so the kids can see you verify and revise.  
    • "Let me check the text and illustration on the next page to see if the prediction was correct. Actually the picture shows the boy getting the paint." I'll write 'no' in the second box and change my prediction based on that evidence."

The Students Take a Turn

15 minutes

Guided practice

  • "Now its your turn to predict!  I'll read the story as you make predictions on your chart."
  • "Each time that I stop, write down a prediction.  Think about the motivations of the mom and boy. Look at their motivation and use the rhythm and rhyming to predict."
  • I stopped on the pages where it has the word 'rest'. "Take a minute and predict. Does the rhyming help you?  What rhymes with 'rest'?"  Let's check - some of you guessed 'chest' and some of you did not? Was there background knowledge that helped you - parts of the body or the boy talking about his body from the top down?"


One of the groupings of standards in the ELA Common Core Standards has to do with author's purpose and story structure. As students examine characters and events changing over the course of the text, they are recognizing that stories have structure – a beginning, middle and end – and that each part of the structure relates to each other and the whole. (RL.2.5)


Independent practice

  • “I'll read more and you can verify your prediction - were you right or wrong?"
  • Stop every few pages.....let kids write predictions and stop again so they can verify.
    • I stopped at back, feet, and right before the last page.
  • "You have lots of predictions and many were right.  I was glad to see you verify those predictions with the illustrations and words. Sometimes, what we predict is correct. But other times, we have to change our predictions."  
  • Here's an example of a student's worksheet.

Apply It!

10 minutes

Explain and direct as students work

  • "Let's show how your character developed over the course of the text.  When we can illustrate the changes to show that we really understand what we've read."
  • Pass out the character template. "Fold it like an accordian and cut out the figure, careful not to cut the folds.  It will create connected figures."
  • ""What did the little boy look like at the beginning of the story?  Draw some details on your first character."
  • Walk around as students are coloring and ask questions to check understanding and prompt as needed.  Here's how I checked my students' work.
  • "Now let's look at the character when he had painted his head and arm.  Illustrate that one. Now draw him with his feet painted.  The final picture should be of the boy after he gets out of the tub.  You'll have to infer -what will he look like after his bath?"
  • "Let's add the rhyming words or repeated words on the back of the character chain: 'heck and 'neck', 'arm' and 'harm' ..."
  • Here's an example of a completed student artifact.



  • "You did a great job predicting today.  This story had some much rhyming, it made it easier to predict."
  • "It was a fun story to read because you could see how the character developed over the course of the text!"
  • Ask some questions to get feedback... "What helped you predict most? The boy's motivation? the rhyming? the illustrations?"


Scaffolding and Special Education

This lesson can be easily scaffolded up or down, depending on students' levels.  

For my special education students, I chose to read the book so the barrier of sounding out words or identifying unknown words was alleviated.  For any 2nd grade student, I believe it's better to read this story aloud so you can use the correct rhythm, pausing, and expression.  If students are to appreciate good literature written in this genre, they must hear a good example.  During the writing portion of the lesson, I paired up my students with a buddy so they could quietly work together. You can also give them some vocabulary on a slate at their desk so they can write as well.

For students with greater academic abilities, you should expect richer predictions with higher level vocabulary.  Instead of 'he paints a knee' the student could be expected to write a longer detailed sentence, such as 'the boy will paint.... (describe what kind of art - there is some predicting to do there...) on his knee next.'

Extra Resource/Idea

If you have time, it would be fun to sing the words to this book to a familiar tune "It Ain't Gonna Rain No More."  Here's a disney video with lyrics to that song. You could have the kids sing with his guitar and change the words to fit the book.