Valentine’s Day was always one of the most enjoyable days for students when I taught kindergarten, and Anna Dewdney’s Llama Llama books were popular with this age group. Llama Llama Be My Valentine! is a Penguin Young Reader book based on an episode of Llama Llama’s animated Netflix television series.
Below are some of the ways I used this selection recently with groups of kindergarten and first graders of varying skill levels. (Please note K or 1st next to the activity to show which grade level of students I used the activity with.) Modify as you wish, depending on your goals/objectives and students:
- (K-1st) Read the selection for enjoyment.
- (K-1st) After reading...
I put the character icon on the white board and asked students to try to remember all the characters in the story (any order will do). Responses were recorded in list form.
- Then, go through the book and check the list to make sure students thought of all the characters.
- Count the characters and write the number.
- (1st) Circle Gilroy Goat’s name. Tell students that you will go through the story with them and map it out from Gilroy’s view. Put the icons on the board and have students name them as you do so. Go through the story and map out—similar to the one shown—with the students participating. Reread and show pictures as you proceed to help with the mapping.
(K-1st) Make a simple goat horn headband to wear during the retelling of the story (retelling with the above Complete Map with first graders). Emphasize that this is what Gilroy did in the story, which is why we have the headband. (If you want, make a Gilroy headband for Braidy, too!)
(1st) Keep the white board available. Give students a pattern for the horns and help make/assemble them. Ask students to wear the headband and take turns retelling the story with a partner while wearing the headbands. Several student groups used the Braidy Checkers to aid in this process.
(K-1st) Place the Character icon on the white board and write Gilroy Goat next to it. Place the heart icon under it and tell the student we will use the book to answer the question, “How did Gilroy feel?” Go back through the story, noting and rereading the pages listed… sad, worried and proud are written in the story; disappointed is one of the feeling words I added. This is an opportunity to share the text and picture of Gilroy to explain what disappointed means.
- (1st) Show students that Gilroy’s feelings changed from the beginning of the story to the end (below left). If you have saved the Complete Map from above, circle the words in the completed map. How the feelings of characters change in stories is frequently explored in all grades.
(1st) You may expand on feelings by prompting, “The story tells us that Gilroy felt proud" (reference page 31, “Gilroy smiles proudly.”) “How else do you think he was feeling?” Here, responses may include glad, happy, and/or pleased. Introduce the word, content. Again, this is a great opportunity to expand on unfamiliar feeling words.
- (1st) I also talked about what Gilroy learned at the end of this story: To use what he was good at… in his case, writing! This was added next to the resolution icon.
The use of Braidy and SGM icons allows students to engage in discussing stories. The icons are powerful in building knowledge of story grammar elements and academic vocabulary!
Other resources for Valentine’s Day lessons
Making a Valentine
Check out this blog by Sean Sweeney aimed to help students create a valentine: Happy Valentine’s Day!
Clifford Art Project
Preschool and kindergarten students will enjoy this art project of Clifford using hearts… a perfect project for our younger students after reading one of the featured Clifford books: Clifford’s Valentine’s Day Character Activity.
This blog is one of my favorite group of lessons using Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson. The lessons use perspective taking of multiple characters and the Critical Thinking Triangle® to explicitly show the thinking/feelings/plans of characters and to predict how one might act in the future. If you work with students in grades 3-6, take a few moments to review this blog: “Each Kindness” For Valentine’s Day and Black History Month.
Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch
Another favorite book of mine for Valentine’s Day is the book Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli. Check out these blogs related to this selection covering a wide variety of objectives:
Feelings, Perspective Taking, Theory of Mind, Empathy
PART 2: Feelings, Perspective Taking, Theory of Mind, Empathy and Mr. Hatch!
PART 3: Feelings, Perspective Taking, Theory of Mind, Empathy and Mr. Hatch!
PART 4: Feelings, Perspective Taking, Theory of Mind, Empathy and Mr. Hatch!
And from our “Free Lessons Page”- “Somebody Loves You. Mr. Hatch” Handout
Happy Valentine’s Day! Enjoy!
Sheila Zagula works with MindWing Concepts in product development, drawing on her expertise and talents as well as many years of implementing the Story Grammar Marker® and related materials. Her teaching career spans thirty-eight years, most recently as literacy coach in the Westfield Massachusetts Public School System. Sheila has experience as an early childhood educator, a teacher of children with special needs, and a collaborative instructor within an inclusion framework serving children in grades K-5.
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