First Grade - Literature - Sayings and Phrases - December

Baltimore Curriculum Project Draft Lessons

Introductory Notes

These lessons generally follow the grade-by-grade topics in the Core Knowledge Sequence, but they have been developed independent of the Core Knowledge Foundation. While the Core Knowledge Foundation encourages the development and sharing of lessons based on the Core Knowledge Sequence, it does not endorse any one set of lesson plans as the best or only way that the knowledge in the Sequence should be taught.

You may feel free to download and distribute these lessons, but please note that they are currently in DRAFT form. At this time the draft lessons on this web site do NOT have accompanying graphics, such as maps or cut-out patterns. Graphics will be added to this site later.

In participating BCP schools, these lessons are used in conjunction with the Direct Instruction skills programs in reading, language, and math. If you use or adapt these lessons, keep in mind that they are meant to address content and the application of skills. You will need to use other materials to ensure that children master skills in reading, language, and math.

"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."

Identify an accomplishment that required persistence.
Make a self portrait.

Paper and crayons, markers, or other media

This saying can easily be confused with Practice makes perfect. Help the children to see that one means to do an activity consecutive times to improve it, while If at first... means having the courage and fortitude to attempt something and, if unsuccessful, to try it again.

Ask the students to name activities that they can now perform easily that were once difficult. Remind them that they learned to crawl, walk, skip, jump, talk, whistle, tie shoelaces, etc. Discuss the many falls they probably took when taking first steps, the gum flying out of their mouths when they tried to blow bubbles, the knots and untied laces when they tried to tie their shoes. Tell them that they still have many things to master. Explain that most people continue to learn and master things their entire lives.

Read the saying If at first you don't succeed, try, try again to the class. Tell the students that this piece of advice means that you don't give up the first time you attempt something and are not successful. Tell the students that this saying doesn't simply mean practice, it also means sticking to something like trying out for a part in a play, not getting the part and trying for another one; or applying for a job, not getting it but applying for another; or trying out for a team or the cheerleading squad and not making it, but practicing and trying out again. It means not giving up.

Now ask the students to recall historic figures or literary characters who became successful because they tried doing something again and again. List the names that the students provide. Accept the names of sports figures if they are suggested, but help the children to see that this saying applies to skills those people tried or accomplishments they made after overcoming some obstacle.

Remind the students of Thomas Edison's accomplishments. Tell them that he was certainly someone who tried over and over again when working on his inventions. Point out that most inventors have to be very persistent when working on their ideas. (Be sure that the children understand what persistent means.)

Ask the children to think about something they can do that was accomplished after several unsuccessful attempts (riding a bike, manuscript or cursive writing, shooting a basket, etc). Have as many children as possible share their accomplishments with the class.

Tell the children that you are very proud of them and would like to make a gallery of self portraits of your class and their accomplishments. Have the students recall what a portrait is (a drawing or painting of a person) and ask them if they can tell what a self portrait is (emphasize self). Help the children to recognize that a self portrait is a drawing or painting of a person by that same person. Tell them that each of them will be the artist and the subject of a picture.

Say: Think of the accomplishment you mentioned just a few minutes ago, and then think of yourself doing that particular thing. Did you wear any special clothing when you did it? Think of a snapshot of yourself and your accomplishment. Remind the children to make their drawings large and to make themselves the center of attention. Tell them that it isn't necessary to fill in a lot of background, that you are most interested in having the pictures show them.

Provide the students with paper and crayons, markers, paints or whatever media you choose. Have them complete the pictures and hang them in a special area with an appropriate heading, or have each student write I can _____________ because I didn't give up! and attach it to the picture.

Suggested Books

Keats, Ezra Jack. Whistle for Willie. New York: Penguin, 1964.

Willie tries and tries to learn to whistle.

Keats, Ezra Jack and Pat Cherr. My dog is lost. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1960.

Juanito must overcome speech barriers and a new city as he searches for his dog.

Steig, William. Brave Irene. Toronto: Collins Publishers, 1986.

Irene faces a blizzard to deliver a special gown.

Literature Activity

Read a story from the list of suggested books and discuss the accomplishments mentioned. The students may recognize similarities in characters' lives.


First Grade - Literature - Sayings and Phrases - December

"the more the merrier"

Suggested Books
Hutchins, Pat. The Doorbell Rang. New York: Greenwillow Books, 1986.

Rylant, Cynthia. The Relatives Came. New York: Bradbury Press, 1985.

Rylant, Cynthia. This Year's Garden. New York: Bradbury Press, 1984.

Ask the children if they have ever had visitors come to their house right when their family was getting ready to eat. Tell them that sometimes when this happens people will say, "Come join us. The more the merrier." Their parents may have said that. Or it might be that some people are going to a movie or the playground and they say to some friends they see, "Come along with us. The more the merrier."

Tell the students that the phrase the more the merrier means that the more people who take part in something, the more fun it will be. Ask them to think about occasions when it is fun to have a large group. Suggest a birthday party or roller skating or a visit to a play center as times when it is fun to have a group of people participating.

Remind the children that when a group participates in doing chores it takes less time than when someone works alone. When people join together to play music it makes the music sound more complete when several instruments are played. Good comes when we share what we are doing with others.

Ask the children if they can think of any stories where the number of people participating has grown and grown. Can the children think of times when the more the merrier is not a good idea? Ask the children if they think Noah and his family felt the more the merrier as the animals came on board.

Share one of the suggested books sometime and see if the students recognize the number of characters included. Ask them if the story would have changed if fewer were involved. Would it have made a better story? Start keeping a list of times the children can think of that were enhanced by having a group take part.


First Grade - Literature - Lesson 10 - Poetry

Sing a Song of People

Follow the wordless story of the boy and his dog within the book.
Identify things you see in the city.
Make a mural of the city (optional).

Materials (optional mural)
Various types of paper and fabric, continuous white paper
Glue, scissors

Suggested Book
Ferris, Helen. Favorite Poems Old and New. New York: Doubleday, 1957.
Contains number of poems about the city.

Required Book
Lenski, Lois. Sing a Song of People. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1987.

The poem Sing a Song of People needs to be introduced in the book format. Do not simply read the poem to the children without sharing the wonderful art of Giles Laroche. The setting of the book is Boston and as you look at the illustrations you will see the Swan boats of Boston Common, the Fenway sign (Fenway Park) on the double decker bus, and the red brick Freedom Path.


Tell the children that the book you will be reading today has a poem for its story. This poem is written by a woman named Lois Lenski who enjoyed writing about people and the places they live. You may enjoy reading the poem "People" (included below) to the class before continuing the lesson. Ask the children if they can picture the people the poet describes.


Tall people, short people,
Thin people, fat,
Lady so dainty
Wearing a hat,
Straight people, dumpy people,
Man dressed in brown;
Baby in a buggy --
These make a town.

Ask: Does the poet tell us the names of the people? (no) How does she describe them? (appearance, clothing) Could these be people anywhere? (yes)

Tell the children that before you read the book Sing a Song of People, you'd like them to think about the city and the buildings and people you see there. Have the students predict the kinds of buildings and places they will see in this book. Make a list on the board.

Next, read the book. Do not take time to point out all the buildings and people but simply read the book and show the pictures.

After you have read the poem through once ask the children if they noticed anything special in the book. (Some may have noticed the story of the boy and his dog illustrated within the poem.) If no one mentions it, tell them to look for a boy and his dog in the illustrations. Tell them that the boy has a problem and ask them to identify the problem (dog escapes leash), then see if the problem gets solved (yes).

As you read the book a second time looking at the story of the boy and dog, also look at the scenes of the city and check these against your list. Were the predictions the class made accurate? What other buildings should have been included? Ask: Why don't we get to know all the people in the city? (too many)

Be sure to mention the artwork that is used in this book. The illustrator chose three dimensional paper construction and made the pictures by actually layering the paper to make everything including the buildings, trees, and people.

If you choose to have the students make a mural take additional time to study the pictures in the book. Show the children how it is possible to layer pieces of paper to make figures, buildings, etc. Look at the ways Giles Laroche made windows appear lit (yellow paper inside) and groups of people appear to be a crowd (overlapping pieces). Decide which buildings to include in your mural and put groups of students to work on various sections.

The words to the poem Sing a Song of People are included here so you might select some lines and print them with the mural the students illustrate.

Sing a Song of People Lois Lenski

Sing a song of people
Walking fast or slow;
People in the city,
Up and down they go.
People on the sidewalk,
People on the bus;
People passing, passing,
In back and front of us.
People on the subway
Underneath the ground;
People riding taxis
Round and round and round.
People with their hats on,
Going in the doors;
People with umbrellas
When it rains and pours.
People in tall buildings
And in stores below;
Riding in elevators
Up and down they go.
People walking singly,
People in a crowd;
People saying nothing,
People talking loud.
People laughing, smiling,
Grumpy people too;
People who just hurry
And never look at you!
Sing a song of people
Who like to come and go;
Sing of city people
You see but never know!


First Grade - Literature - Lesson 11 - Poetry

The Purple Cow
Create and illustrate a picture of a nonsense animal similar to the purple cow.
Listen to nonsense rhymes for enjoyment.

Drawing paper and crayons or markers

Suggested Books
Cole, Joanna. Anna Banana - 101 Jump-Rope Rhymes. New York: Scholastic, 1989.
Includes short, easily memorized rhymes.

Cole, Joanna and Stephanie Calmenson, ed. A Pocketful of Laughs-Stories, Poems, Jokes & Riddles. New York: Doubleday, 1995.

Includes many short, funny poems.

Ferris, Helen, ed. Favorite Poems Old and New. New York: Doubleday, 1957.

Wonderful collection, includes "The Purple Cow."

The students should be able to memorize this rhyme rather quickly, simply by listening to it several times. It should be presented as a rhyme to learn just for fun. Encourage the children to use their wildest imaginations when creating their own creatures.

Introduce as many short funny poems and rhymes as are reasonable for your students. Children should be able to see poetry for its pure enjoyment value, as well as study its form.



Tell the students that you will be reading (or reciting) a short poem about a rather strange animal. Read the poem and if you feel comfortable, accompany it with animated facial and body expressions.

The Purple Cow

I never saw a Purple Cow,
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I'd rather see than be one.

Gelett Burgess

On a second or third reading encourage the children to join in. Suggest other unusual animal and color combinations and insert these in the poem. You may wish to list colors on the board (Don't forget silver and gold!) and then ask students to suggest animals to pair with them. Try a red giraffe, a blue lion, a pink rattlesnake, etc. Write these on the board or on a chart where they can be saved for later use.

Share other nonsense rhymes with the children (some are included with this lesson), taking time to enjoy each one and, if possible, recite as a group.


First Grade - Literature - Lesson 11 - Poetry

The Purple Cow

When you have completed reciting for this day, tell the children that they are to do an illustration of their favorite nonsense animal. Display the list you made earlier in the lesson and review the combinations. Remind the children to make their illustrations large, showing them a sample you have made. Hand out paper and have the children work with crayons or whatever media you choose.

Display the pictures with the poem written out on sentence strips. Leave out the words purple cow and position the pictures in this space (see diagram).

I never saw a

I never hope to see one; But I can tell you anyhow, I'd rather see than be one.

You're Nasty and You're Loud

You're nasty and you're loud,

You're mean enough for two.

If I could be a cloud,

I'd rain all day on you.

Jack Prelutsky

As I was walking near the lake,

I met a little rattlesnake.

He ate so much of jelly-cake,

It made his little belly ache.

Jelly in the dish,

Jelly in the dish,

Wiggle, waggle, wiggle, waggle,

Jelly in the dish.

Joanna Cole

Only My Opinion

Is a caterpillar ticklish?

Well, it's always my belief

That he giggles, as he wiggles

Across a hairy leaf.

Monica Shannon


First Grade - Literature - The House at Pooh Corner


Identify character traits for story characters.

Match characters to given situations based on behavior exhibited in stories.

Suggested Books

Milne, A.A. The House at Pooh Corner. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1956.

Milne, A.A. Now We Are Six. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1927.

Milne, A.A. Pooh's Bedtime Book. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1980.

Milne, A.A. Winnie-the-Pooh. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1926.

Milne, A.A. When We Were Very Young. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1924.


Milne, A.A. Winnie-the-Pooh. read by Peter Dennis, a collection of 9 cassettes that include all 20 stories and 79 poems (available through Delta Education).


Milne, A.A. Winnie-the-Pooh. told by Willie Ruston. BBC video, 57 minutes, color, 1974.

Uses Shepard's illustrations, includes the episode on Poohsticks.

Milne, A.A. Winnie-the-Pooh. Set of productions by Walt Disney Studios Home Video.

Vary in length and content.


Hirsch, E.D. and John Holdren. What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know. New York: Doubleday, 1996.


The children first meet Christopher Robin, Winnie-the-Pooh and the other animal friends in Kindergarten when they are read selections from Winnie-the-Pooh. ("In Which Pooh Goes Visiting and Gets into a Tight Place" is included in What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know.) The theme of friendship should be familiar as well as the names of the characters.

You may want to tell the children that the author, Alan Alexander Milne (1882-1956), wrote the stories for, and somewhat about, his son, Christopher Robin. The animal friends were based on stuffed animals that Christopher had, with only Rabbit and Owl created by Milne. The Hundred Acre Wood resembled the area around Cotchford Farm, Surrey, England, where the Milne family lived.

The children will notice some differences in words and their meanings in this story. Have them find England on the map and tell them that the stories were written there. Tell them that words like "Hallo" which is the same as our "Hello," and "braces" which means "suspenders" are examples of words from England.

Because of the popularity of Pooh and the commercialism that puts the Milne characters on a line of baby items, clothing and countless toys, the students should already be familiar with the animal characters at least. You may wish to allow the students to bring stuffed animals, etc. one day when you are reading.


First Grade - Literature - The House at Pooh Corner

The students should recognize that the problem solving that is not done by the animals is left up to a child, Christopher Robin. These stories allow the child complete control.


Select a story from The House at Pooh Corner and begin reading. If possible read all the stories in this book. The stories are not very long and are wonderful for read aloud. The characters routinely deal with problems and find child-like solutions.

Make sure that the students are introduced to all the main characters. When you have finished this book the children should know Christopher Robin, Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet, Owl, Rabbit, Tigger, Kanga and Roo. They should be able to tell you something about each character as well. For instance, they should be able to tell you that Piglet was a very small pig who worried about his size, and had a fear of offending someone either through his words or actions.

The students will probably enjoy the poems made up by Pooh. While the poems do not always rhyme, they are rhythmical and sound the way a child might make up a song to sing to him or herself. The children may enjoy Pooh's advice about writing poetry, "It's the best way to write poetry, letting things come." (p. 33-House at Pooh Corner) Have the children close their eyes and imagine Pooh saying the poems to himself.

After you have read a number of selections from the book (or the entire thing), ask the students to name the characters and list them on the board. You may wish to draw a web with Hundred Acre Wood in the center and the characters listed around the perimeter as you would see on an overview map. Web descriptions and character traits the children suggest around each name.

Next, ask the children to identify a favorite scene in a story. Have the children recall the characters involved. Ask: What do you know about ___________ because of what happened? Ask what is special about that incident and how did the character act? Add any insights the children may have to the web you did together.

Finally, ask the children to choose characters to put in a number of different situations (see below), and to explain why. Use the questions below and add any others you may wish. The students should be able to predict how a character might act based on the behavior in the Pooh stories.

Which character would you choose to help you select new foods to eat?

Kanga, based on her knowledge of what animals eat; Christopher Robin, Rabbit and Owl, because they are wise; certainly not Tigger who thought Tiggers liked everything even when he did not know what the thing was.


Which character would you choose to help you build something?

Anyone but Eeyore and his disastrous building of a house.

Which character would you choose to go with you to a new place that might be strange?

Anyone but Piglet who was too afraid of anything.

Which character would you ask to help you write a poem?



First Grade - Literature - The House at Pooh Corner

Which character would you ask for advice?

Rabbit, Owl, Kanga, Christopher Robin, etc. it all depends on what you want advice about.

Which character would you ask to play if you were playing a running, bouncy game?


You may also wish to ask the children to suggest situations based on their knowledge of the characters. Be sure to ask for the rationale behind each answer suggested.


First Grade - Literature - Hansel and Gretel


Evaluate the problem solving in the story.

Make a model of the witch's house.

Listen to the opera Haensel and Gretel (optional).



Construction paper, crayons, scissors, glue

Beads, small candies (optional)

Classroom size world map

Patterns for witch's house (attached)


Suggested Books

Grimm, Jakob Ludwig Karl. Hansel and Gretel. New York: Julia MacRae Books, 1981.

Illustrations by Anthony Browne are modern and rather dark.

Jeffers, Susan, retold by. Grimm's Hansel and Gretel. New York: Dial, 1986.

Illustrations by Susan Jeffers.

Lesser, Rika, retold by. Grimm's Hansel and Gretel. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1984.

Illustrations by Paul O. Zelinsky are delicate and portray an older tale of Hansel and Gretel.

Marshall, James, retold by. Grimm's Hansel and Gretel. New York: Dial, 1990.

Marshall interjects humor throughout his illustrations and text.


Goldish, Meish. 28 Folk and Fairy Tale Poems and Songs. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1995.

Story of Hansel and Gretel sung to "Hush Little Baby, Don't Say a Word."

Lawrence, Robert, ed. Haensel and Gretel-The Story of Humperdinck's Opera. New York: Silver Burdett Co., 1938.

Thematic Units Collection. Greensboro, Carson-Dellosa Publishing Co., 1994.

Hansel and Gretel Unit pp. 133-147.

Information on the Authors

Quackenbush, Robert. Once Upon a Time! A Story of the Brothers Grimm. Englewood Cliffs, Prentice-Hall, 1985.

Biography of the Brothers Grimm, portions good for read aloud.


Before you begin this story you may wish to review the elements of fairy tales found in an earlier lesson. The fairy tale chart, character traits, and the newspaper report may all be adapted to Hansel and Gretel.

The lesson on Tom Thumb contains information on the Brothers Grimm if you wish to refresh your memory. The Quackenbush book provides a great reference, too.

Versions of this story vary as to the fate of the witch but the essence of the story remains intact. The children in this story solved their own problems. They were clever and resourceful in spite of great adversity. The children first faced an evil stepmother and an ineffective father who


First Grade - Literature - Hansel and Gretel

planned to dispose of them; and then when they believed themselves saved, met a witch who planned a more horrible fate for them. These children were lost in a dark forest and spent two days and nights alone. This was another frightening challenge for them to face. Finally, after managing to save themselves once with the pebbles, and then believing themselves saved by the old woman, they find that they must not merely survive but escape. Each of the children saves sibling and self by outwitting the evil adult. Be sure that the students take this away from this lesson.

If you decide to include Humperdinck's opera in your study, see the information and activities at the end of this lesson.


Ask the children to recall stories that you have read together this year. They should remember the Cinderella stories, the tales of tiny characters, Little Red Riding Hood, Pinocchio, and Jack and the Beanstalk. As they tell you the names, ask them to identify the villain in each tale. If necessary, explain that the villain is the evil character in a story who tries to do harm to others.

After the students have named all the stories and evil characters tell them that the story you are about to read has two evil characters and one who isn't very nice. Tell them that an evil stepmother is one villain and a witch is the other. Ask the students to identify the not-so-nice character once you start reading.

Tell the name of the story. Tell the students that the names Hansel and Gretel are German and have them find Germany on the map. Ask for suggestions for the names of the characters if the story were told in the United States. Read one of the versions of Hansel and Gretel making sure that students know the meaning of the word famine.

After reading the story tell the children that they have the job of being problem finders in the story. Tell them to think back to the story and recall all the problems that happened. List the problems in one column on the board. In the next column write the word solution. Ask the children to tell how each problem is solved. In the last column write good or bad idea. Have the children decide and give reasons.


Problem Solution Good or Bad Idea
famine lose children bad
lost in forest pebbles good
lost in forest bread crumbs good/bad
lost in forest walk to find help good/bad
find cake and candy house stay with old woman good/bad
get fat for witch to eat stick out bone good
heat oven to cook Hansel trick witch inside good
cross the river get a ride on duck good


First Grade - Literature - Hansel and Gretel

When you have completed the chart with the students (yours may vary slightly from the one enclosed), ask them to look at the problems faced by the children in the story. Next, ask them to look at the solutions and the ratings they have given. The students should see that the children in the story made wise decisions.

Because Hansel and Gretel made such wise decisions ask the students what advice they think this pair would give Red-Riding-Hood when the wolf approached (don't talk), Pinocchio when the fox and cat, or the puppets talked to him (don't talk, do what you are supposed to do).

What advice would they give Goldilocks or the Three Pigs?

Witch's House

Talk to the children about how delightful the house must have appeared to Hansel and Gretel. Remind them that it looked like the delicious gingerbread houses we see this time of year. You may wish to show pictures of decorated houses or make suggestions for decorating. Make sure that you attempt the house construction before demonstrating to the children.

Patterns for the witch's house are attached. It is not necessary to make a copy of the roof pattern if you prefer to use construction paper instead. Simply cut a piece of paper 6" by 8" and fold in half width-wise to make a roof with 4" on each side.

To construct the house each student will need two house patterns. If it is possible to duplicate the patterns on heavier weight paper, the finished product will be more sturdy. You may wish to allow the students to use beads or small candies as part of their decorations. After decorating and coloring the two pages, instruct the students to cut on the solid lines and fold on the dotted lines. The tab that extends from the house should be joined to the wall of the other section (see diagram).

After the house is freestanding, place the roof on top. Display in your own gingerbread land or allow the students to take theirs home to share.

Engelbert Humperdinck's Opera

Engelbert Humperdinck's Haensel and Gretel is available from Heliodor, 89751/52 ST 33.


The opera Haensel and Gretel was written in a very unusual way. Mrs. Adelheid Wette, Humperdinck's sister wrote a play for her daughters to perform based on the German tale of a boy and a girl who were lost in the forest. Humperdinck set the play to music. The first performance took place in 1893 and was well received by both children and adults.



Before playing the opera be sure that the children know that an opera is a play having all, or most of the text set to music. Explain that these are not just songs put into the play, as in some Disney films, but in an opera the actors and actresses sing instead of talking.

If possible play "The Children's Prayer" which is included at the beginning of the overture and the song that is played as Hansel coaxes Gretel into dancing. The children may enjoy hearing the witch's song.

If you cannot play the opera for the children tell the story. It differs from "Hansel and Gretel" by the Brothers Grimm in that it is a much less frightening story. The gingerbread children who return to normal are a much more pleasant thought than those who were devoured


First Grade - Literature - Hansel and Gretel

by the witch. Also, parents who love their children and are merely frustrated by them are far better than those who try to do them harm. Of course, the students will still be able to see how clever Hansel and Gretel are. As a culminating activity the children may enjoy comparing the two versions.