Clifford the Big Dog Literacy Lesson Plans

Kinderplans integrates literature in all the lesson plans.  Well-known and loved literature selections are chosen to incorporate key learning outcomes within a balanced literacy approach to learning.  This approach has proven to be the most effective in teaching young learners.  This specific unit uses the Clifford series by Norman Bridwell.
Clifford Literacy Lesson Plans


Modeled Reading

All alphabet letters/sounds and sight words begin with using  popular literacy selections for modeled reading.  In this set of lesson plans, the teacher would use any of her favorite Clifford books to read during modeled reading time.


Shared Reading Follow-Up

The companion emergent reader “Fox and the Big Dog” would be used as a follow-up to model the reading process and to introduce the following:


Alphabet Letters:  Dd for “dog” and Xx for “fox”


Pre Primer Sight Words:  big, jump, play, funny


Clifford Follow-up Emergent Reader

Cliford Emergent Reader Follow-up B:W








Alphabet and Rhyming Literacy Center Games and Activities

Spin and Print

Playing partners spin and print the letter of the focus initial letter sound represented in the picture they landed on.


Draw and Print

Students draw a picture card and print the letter of the focus initial letter sound represented in the picture.


Picture Mnemonic Printing Activity

Students will be involved with focus letter picture mnemonic printing activities as displayed in the photograph below.


Phonemic Awareness, Phonological Awareness and Rhyming Activities

Rhyming, phonemic and phonological awareness activities are always addressed within the units.  This Clifford unit includes suggestions and activities in relation to developing these skills.

Alphabet Clips copy


Sight Word Literacy Center Games and Activities for 

Spin and Print

Playing partners spin and print the focus sight word.


Roll and Print

In this game focus sight words are printed on a blank die.  Students roll the die and print the focus sight word on the templates provided.


Roll, Move and Say

Playing partners take turns rolling a die and moving their game players accordingly on the game board provided.  They must say the sight word that they landed on.


Draw and Say

Playing partners take turns drawing a word card and saying the word displayed.  They get to keep the card if it is read correctly.

Clifford Sight Word Games


Writing Activity

All lesson plan units include a follow-up writing and craft activity. The students would complete the craft/writing activity displayed below.  The templates to complete the craft are provided within the unit.  The writing template is also included.

Clifford Wirting Craft


Where Can I Access These Resources?

You can access the resources from the link below


Access Clifford Literacy Unit



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Winter Theme Activities

This is a Science lesson plan related to the “Winter Theme”.  I will be introducing the concept of hibernation.  The video below captures the concept of hibernation effectively for young learners.  Click on the words “Hibernation Video” to view it.

Hibernation Video

Follow-Up Activity

A discussion will follow about what the students learned in the video.  After, students will complete the worksheet found in the link below.  The worksheet requires them to identify animals that hibernate and those that don’t.  They will cut and paste the pictures accordingly.  The worksheet will also be used to further the discussion.

Hibernating Worksheet

Hibernating Worksheet

Hibernation Worksheet



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Lesson Plans – Emotions

Emotions-Book-CoverIn my school we teach personal development for an hour each week, which I mentioned in the previous blog post.  I am sharing my plans with newsletter subscribers.  Below you will find my plans based on the theme “My Emotions”.  The lessons include books to use that were accessible in my school library, online books and videos.


Emotion One – Sad


1.  “When I Feel Sad” by Cornelia Maude Spelman

2.  “My Friend Is Sad” by Mo Willems

3.  “Franklin’s Bad Day” by Paulette Bourgeois (online video)



On chart paper the teacher scribes what students orally dictate to complete this sentence “I feel sad when ….”.  Do a few together. Students complete the sentence independently in their My Book About Emotions, which is found in the link below.Howard Wilgglebottom


My Book About Emotions – Version 1 – Complete the Sentence


My Book About Emotions – Version 2 – Dotted Lined Sheet


Emotion Two – Happy


1.  Howard B. Wigglebottom Listens to His Heart by Howard Binkow 

2.  My Heart is Laughing by Rose Lagercrantz



On chart paper the teacher scribes what students orally dictate to complete this sentence “I feel happy when ….”.  Do a few together. Students complete the sentence independently in their My Book About Emotions.


Emotion Three – Anger


1.  Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns to Back Away by Howard Binkow I Feel Scared

2.  When Sophie Gets Angry–Really, Really Angry… by Molly Ban




On chart paper the teacher scribes what students orally dictate to complete this sentence “I feel angry when ….”.  Do a few together. Students complete the sentence independently in their My Book About Emotions.


Emotion Four – Scared


1.  Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns About Fears and Courage by Howard Binkow 

2.  When I Feel Scared by Cornelia Maude SpelmanWigglebottom Courage



On chart paper the teacher scribes what students orally dictate to complete this sentence “I feel scared when ….”.  Do a few together. Students complete the sentence independently in their My Book About Emotions.


Emotion Five – Jealousy


1.  When I Feel Jealous by Cornelia Maude Spelman


 Video – Understanding Jealousy


Video Snow White Fairy Tale



On chart paper the teacher scribes what students orally dictate to complete this sentence “I feel jealous when ….”.  Do a few together. Students complete the sentence independently in their My Book About Emotions.


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Making Friends

In our school we have Personal Development for an hour a week. I have begun my preparation and will be sharing these with my

Scaredy Squirrel Makes A Friend

Scaredy Squirrel Makes A Friend

subscribers.  Here are my first month’s plans.  The focus for the first month is “Making New Friends”.  I hope you find these ideas helpful!


Lesson Plan One 

Read the book “Scaredy Squirrel Makes A Friend” or watch the video below:


Scaredy Squirrel Makes A Friend


Discuss the book “Scaredy Squirrel Makes a New Friend” and how they can make friends by just giving others a chance as shown in theOutdoor Activities Pictures book. Discuss how enjoying common activities is a way in making new friends. Display the pictures found in the link below. Each child chooses one of their preferred outdoor activities. Children with the same choice activities gather in a group. The group goes outside together partaking in the chosen activity. After, they must report their findings. Focus on the concept that making new friends often involves meeting somebody who enjoys similar activities and giving others a chance to be a friend.


Outdoor Activity Pictures


Lesson Plan Two

Students watch online audio book “Franklin’s New Friend” found in the link below:


Franklin’s New Friend Franklin's New Friend


Again, reiterate the importance of being open to meeting new friends and giving them chances as stressed in the book. Review how finding people with similar interests allows them an opportunity to meet a new friend. Have them brainstorm for words or phrases that complete the following, “I like to…..” and scribe these onto chart paper. Have the students complete the sheet below by continuing the sentence as was done in the classroom. The students could use the chart as a guide.  After, have the students share these to learn who enjoys similar activities. These can be viewed as possible new friends. 


Writing Template 1


Lesson Plan ThreeWriting Template 2

The focus will be on “What Makes A Good Friend”?  This will be followed-up by discussion.  View the videos below and discuss.

Video 1


Video 2



Read book “I’m A Good Friend”  by David Parker. Brainstorm for words or phrases that complete the sentence “A Good Friend…..”  and scribe the phrases on chart paper.


Lesson Plan FourWriting Template 2

Students draw a name from a container to partner with and choose a free time activity (puzzles, blocks, etc.) to do together.  Allow about 15 minutes of free time partaking in the chosen activity. Discuss their experience.


After, add more ideas to the chart “A Good Friend……”


Students complete written page below.


Writing Template 2


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Common Core Planning

After so many years of experience, I rarely create a lesson solely based on meeting curriculum outcomes. I found this often led to rather stilted lessons.  I prefer to create engaging lessons related to a specific topic or theme with related reading selections and follow-up activities.  From there, I would evaluate all the core outcomes that would be met from the lessons I developed.


Choosing A Topic or Theme

During the later part of October I like to focus on the theme of Pumpkins, which is used in conjunction to the Fall and Halloween themes.  The video below outlines how I employ integrated activities that meet many core outcomes related to this topic or theme.

Common Core Planning

Common Core Planning



Meeting Core Outcomes Planning


Read Alouddownload

One of the reading selections chosen for this topic is How Many Seeds In A Pumpkin? written by Margaret McNamara.   This specific book is great to use for integrating math and literacy.  It addresses the math outcomes outlined below:


1.  size comparisons

2.  estimation

3.  one-to-one number counting correspondence

Pumpkin Counting Emergent Reader

Pumpkin Counting Emergent Reader

4.  skip counting


The students can engage in the activities found in the book.


Shared and Guided Reading

There are a number of emergent readers found within the Fall/Halloween theme unit but the one I chose integrates math. In the black and white version of the reader “Down At the Pumpkin Patch”, the students were to draw the correct amount of pumpkins as identified in the text.  Both the number word and written as a numeral versions are available.

Interactive Component of Black and White Version of Reader

Interactive Component of Black and White Version of Reader

I display the color version of the reader on the Smart Board, which is used for shared reading.  During this time we count words, identify sight words and work on other related beginning reading skills.  During guided reading time the students work in a small group to complete the interactive component where they are required to draw and color the correct amount of pumpkins according to the text.  After they complete the interactive component, they read to me and a partner.


 Related Art/Craft Project

The students drew and colored with wax crayons their own pumpkin patch as displayed below. After, I washed over their picture using thin black paint.  The wax crayons resisted absorbing the paint.


pumpkin patch art

pumpkin patch art

pumpkin patch art

pumpkin patch art


Common Core PostersCommon-Core-Retelling 2

On the Kinderplans site you will find posters that can be displayed in the classroom as a reference to what standards you are working towards meeting.


Common Core Posters


More Ideas

More Fall/Pumpkin theme ideas can be found in the link below:


More Fall/Pumpkin Theme Ideas


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Substitute Plans

My students really enjoy hearing all the “Pete the Cat” stories.  I decided to create an emergency substitute lesson plan based on the story “Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons” written by Eric Litwin.  The emergency lesson plan is found in the link below:Pete the Cat Activities


Pete The Cat And His Groovy Button Mini Unit


Importance of Read-Alouds

The purpose of read-alouds is for students to be exposed to rich literature, to develop comprehension strategies through teacher reading, questioning and vocabulary development.  The selection can be read numerous times with focus on different comprehension strategies and vocabulary development.  The success of read-alouds depends on how the teacher structures carefully crafted questions.
I always begin a lesson with a read-aloud.  In this lesson the book is “Pete the Cat and His Groovy Buttons”.
The video of the book can also displayed on your interactive board.


Video of the Book


Pre-Reading Activities

-Discuss with the students a problem they may have experienced.  Discuss how they solved the problem.

-Do a picture walk of the literature selection and predict what the problem might be by viewing the pictures.  How might the problem be resolved?

-Read each page and predict how Pete will react to his problem.  Discuss how he reacted to his problem.

-Discuss the lesson that the author wishes to convey in this story.


Interactive Component

Interactive Component

What Is Shared Reading?

The purpose of shared reading is for the teacher to model the reading process. She/he points to words and demonstrates how text moves from left to right and top to bottom. The text should be large enough so all the students can see the words. Shared reading selections should also be repetitive so that young learners can participate. In the initial stages of learning to read the students will be reading from memory rather than using decoding strategies. This is the reason the text is kept repetitive and simplistic. All emergent readers found on the Kinderplans site have been designed to be used for Pre-Kindergarten to develop early reading skills.


Shared Reading the Interactive Reader “My Groovy Buttons”

Many of the Kinderplans lessons use an emergent reader that is related to the “Read Aloud” selection as a means to teach many of the curriculum outcomes.  The emergent reader found within the mini-lesson was created for the purpose of shared and guided reading activities related to the read-aloud.

-Project emergent reader “My Groovy Buttons” on the Smart Board or in a pocket chart with the words enlarged.

-Read the title of the selection.  Do a picture walk of the selection and discuss what might be happening on each page and how it might relate to the story you just read to Color-Number-Buttonsthem, “Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons” by Eric Litwin.  Discuss the interactive component, which is to color, add facial features and the correct amount of buttons.  The photograph above displays a completed page.

-Read the selection to the children modeling the reading process completing the interactive component as you read (add buttons and facial features to each picture).

-Read again, choosing different students to be the word pointer.


Guided Reading

I meet with small groups of students working through the following activities:

-students add correct amount of buttons on the shirt and complete drawing their facial features on the emergent reader “My Groovy Buttons” reader.

-practice reading the book to themselves, then when ready can read it to the teacher.

-After, can read the book to another student.


Writer’s Workshop
-Students write what they think of “Pete the Cat”.  Complete the pattern: Pete the cat is ____________.Button-Subtraction
-Share what they wrote



Review Numeral Identification

-Distribute small math manipulatives.  Display numbers found on page  7 and the children display that many.  After, can complete sheet found on page 8.


Introducing Subtraction

-Print subtraction sentences on the board.  After, each sentence have the students use their manipulatives to act out the sentence (start with first number and take away the other number).  Explain how this is related to the story you read this morning “Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons” by Eric Litwin


Independent Seat Work
The students could complete the subtraction sheet.  They would cross out the buttons that need to be subtracted in order to find the answer.  The teacher may need to do this work together as a class.

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First Week Pre-Kindergarten

Ideas for First Week

In this blog post I have outlined ideas that you can incorporate for your first week of school.


Play Centers

Kissing Hand Emergent Reader

Kissing Hand Emergent Reader

When the students first arrive they must locate their name tag placed on a table.  They are assisted with putting their name tag on. They are directed to a play center of their choice prior to meeting for circle time. The “Play Centers” could include playdough, different construction toys, craft materials, puzzles, computer, math manipulatives,  etc.


Name Game During Circle Time

We get in a circle and each child rolls the ball to a different student.  Each student introduces themselves when the ball is rolled to them.


Exploring the School – Treasure Hunt

I explain to the children that I found a mystery letter.  I read it to them.  We explore the school looking for the treasure.  At each location there is a heart-shaped letter directing us to where we should look next.  This is a fun way to have the students become familiar with the school.   I have a treasure box that was packed with stickers from Scholastic that is placed at our final destination.  I put decorative rocks in it (one for each student).  I explain that it is their lucky rock to hold when they feel a little scared or miss their parents.

Name Activities

Name Activities


Read Aloud

I always use the book “The Kissing Hand” by Audrey Penn for the first day because it relates well to how some of the children might feel.


Shared Reading

I project the simple retelling emergent reader of the story on the Smart Board (found in your Free Sample Friendship theme).  We read this together as I model the reading process.  I will do this for a few days before sending it home with the students.  Sign-up form on page link below:


Sign-up Form


Name Activities

The first week of the school year the focus is on learning and recognizing names within the classroom.  In the new Pre-K Curriculum you will find name activities that would be incorporated in the first day and week of school.  In the link below you will find the first few pages of the teacher’s guide that outline these activities.  You will also find more activities in your free “Friendship” theme unit that you should have received when you signed-up for the bi-weekly newsletter.


First Few Pages of Pre-K Teachers Guide


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Pre-K Curriculum

I have been asked to create a Pre-K curriculum that addresses the “National Standards” but also meets the needs of ESL learners.  I am excited about this opportunity, but I know it will be a considerable amount of work.  The resources will be reproduced in hardcopy and distributed to places that do not necessarily have access to quality resources.  This is the reason for the different books.  I will also have an online version.

Note:  The curriculum only includes activities that address learning outcomes.   It does not include play center a ideas, which should still be included in the bulk of the curriculum.

Teacher's Guide

Teacher’s Guide

Teacher Resources

Teacher Resources

Student Workbook

Student Workbook

Student Resources

Student Resources









Your Input After Viewing Free Resources

I have created the first unit of study which is based on greeting each other and becoming familiar with names within their learning environment.  Please view and use the free resources.  I would really appreciate your input!!!


Pre-K Curriclum

Pre-K Curriculum


Teacher’s Guide

Teacher’s Resources

Student Workbook

Student Resources




Future Units of Study

All About Me

My Five Senses

My Body (taking care of it)

My Emotions

My Home and Family

My Family

My House



Food and Nutrition

Zoo and Animals



Numbers and Shapes


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Working With Struggling Readers

The Logics of English

The Logics of English

I just read the book “The Logic of English” written by Denise Eide.  This is a great resource for teachers in terms of assisting you with integrating phonics instruction into your program. I intend to use this resource to strengthen my phonics instruction within my grade one class. She advocates that all students should be taught reading within a systematic phonics program and this would result in improving the nation’s reading scores and reduce the amount of struggling readers. This is debatable but I do believe that phonics instruction is important and should be integrated into a balanced literacy framework.  I learned to read and started my teaching career based on phonics programs that included rules, worksheets and where most of the phonics instruction was taught in isolation of text. This became obsolete once the “whole language approach” emerged.  Experienced teachers such as myself remained teaching phonics in conjunction with using a “whole language approach.”  In 2000 the “International Reading Panel” tried to settle the wars between the two opposing philosophies and out of this was born a “balanced literacy” approach to learning.  I feel that all classrooms today should be using this framework to guide their reading and writing instruction.


The link below from John Hopkins School of Education outlines the reasons some children struggle with reading and possible intervention programs.  It does note that these students do benefit from a systematic phonics program. However, most of these programs are meant to be used within a small learning group setting.


Reasons Students Struggle With Reading and Intervention Suggestions


How I Tackled My Dilemma in Teaching Phonics

I have always believed that phonics instruction is very important but I struggled for many years on how to incorporate it effectively.  Teaching in isolation of text seemed very disjointed and not that meaningful to my learners.  When I started incorporating phonics instruction within my reading selections, I started to enjoy teaching phonics and it just flowed naturally.


Zoo Escape Reader

Zoo Escape Reader

Example of Phonics Instruction For Hard “Gg” Sound

I introduce the letter “Gg” and its related sound through reading the book “Good Night Gorilla” by Peggy Rathmann.  This is followed by reading the reader “Zoo Escape” as a shared and guided reading instruction (based on a balanced literacy model).

At the beginning of the Kindergarten year I only teach the hard “Gg” sound and later the soft “Gg” sound.


Importance of Follow-up Activities – Word Work

Literacy Center Games

Literacy Center Games

Literacy Center Games

It is obvious that just introducing the letter is not enough for the students to fully internalize the concept. Follow-up activities are crucial in fully grasping how this sound works in conjunction to printing and reading.  The literacy center games are meant to be used for this purpose.  The link below outlines the process in which I go through for my students to fully grasp the concept of learning new letters and their related sounds.


 Follow-up Activities 


Dictation – Extending Word Work

“When writing by hand, the movement involved leave a motor memory in the sensorimotor part of the brain which helps us recognize letters.  This implies a connection between reading and writing, and suggests that the sensorimotor system plays a role in the process of visual recognition during reading.”

Word Dictation

Word Dictation


Anne Mangen Univeristy of Stavanger, Norway


The above statement supports the idea that students do not internalize the connection to the letter and sound until they are able to print that letter. This has also been my experience. For this reason, each day I have a short dictation period where my students print on their erasable whiteboards.  I will dictate words and they must print the initial letter that represents that word.  By the end of the year, most students can print the entire word (usually CVC words). This is part of my word work and phonics instruction and is a very important one.


Extending the Concept To “Soft Gg” – Later In The Year

When doing the fairy tale theme we read different versions of the book “The Gingerbread Man”.  This is followed-up by looking at the letter “Gg” and introducing the other sound it makes.  The reader “Gingerbread Man Perseveres” is used as a shared and guided reading follow-up.

Gingerbread Man Perseveres Reader

Gingerbread Man Perseveres Reader


Spelling Rule

You may introduce the following spelling rule as outlined in the book “The Logic of English.”

Gg may soften to /j/ when followed by e, i, or y.  Otherwise it says /g/.



Phonics instruction is important especially for those students who are not strong visual learners.  These students are auditory learners and need phonics instruction.  For me, I like to teach phonics in conjunction with the stories that I am reading and incorporating into my word work blocks.  For kinesthetic learners, printing the letter(s) in conjunction with learning the phonograms is an important step in internalizing how they are used in representing sound units within writing and reading.

The book “The Logic of English” will provide you with all the different phonograms that we use in the English language.  It also provides you with all the different spelling rules that can be applied when learning to spell English words.  It is a great book to read to provide guidance on how you can approach your phonics lessons and spelling instruction. I would tend to stick with teaching the consonants and the two vowel sounds (long and short) initially at the pre-k level.


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Christmas Concert Idea

Christmas Concert Dilemnas

Christmas Concert Ideas

Christmas Concert Ideas

Each year my school puts on a Christmas concert.  Each teacher is responsible for their own little performance (no longer than five minutes from walking on the stage and off) as all the different grades perform.  Since I am not very musically inclined this is challenging for me.  I decided to write this blog post in the hopes of helping others that are in a similar situation.


The problem I always encounter is that most of the children’s Christmas music songs are sung by adults or are too complicated for my little ones.  I like the background music to blend in with my student’s voices and this is not possible when an adult is singing.  It is for this reason I specifically had the “Alpha Tunes CD” sung by children.  I did find a few online songs that were sung by children and are appropriate for our little learners.


Recipe For A Happy Christmas Narrative

Recipe For A Happy Christmas Narrative

Children Christmas Songs Sung By Children And Are Appropriate For Young Learners

I really like the site outlined below and specifically all the songs that are sung by W.L.A. Children’s Music Choir as the choir consists of young voices.


Appropriate Christmas Songs 


My Idea For This Year

I chose “The Ha Ha Holiday Song” found in the link above and sung by the W.L.A. Children’s Music Choir.  During the laughing part I was going to have the audience join in.  This is a simple and fun song for the children.


Additional Narrative Part – Recipe For A Happy Christmas

Prior to singing the song above a pair of students are going to come forward to the microphone and say a very short line each about what ingredients are included for making a “Happy Christmas Recipe”.  They will add these ingredients to a large mixing bowl held by students dressed as bakers.  These verses can easily be changed according to the number of students you have and what you feel is important to include.  My ideas and lines are presented in the document below:

Christmas and Five Senses

Christmas and Five Senses


Recipe For A Happy Christmas


More Christmas Ideas

More Christmas ideas that can integrate into your classroom learning in conjunction with math, literacy and Science (five senses) can be found in the link below.


More Christmas Ideas For Classroom Learning

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