The Fantastic Pumpkin
Written by Jill Atkins
Illustrated by Chloë March
Overview: In this book, Dan and his grandma grow a very fantastic
pumpkin. I wonder how this pumpkin will grow to be fantastic.
DETERMINING THE PURPOSE
Matching Readers with Books ★ LITERACY SKILLS
This book is for children who can:
• developing and applying knowledge
Level 11 • read longer sentences of consonant digraphs
• read high-frequency words • identifying and segmenting syllables
Teaching Focus in spoken words
• using knowledge of vowel
Vocabulary ★ COMPREHENSION STRATEGY diphthongs
Opportunities • asking questions to understand • using knowledge of word families
key themes to decode
Use these words as a
guide to help children
with vocabulary. • vocabulary: garden words
Grandma’s soccer ball
Setting the Scene
Introduce the book and share an overview.To activate prior knowledge, ask
children what they know about seeds. Invite them to tell about a time when
ESL • ELL they planted a seed.
If possible, bring in some Talk about the cover. Read the title and the author and illustrator’s names
pumpkin seeds for children to to children.
look at. Either show them a real What do you think would make a pumpkin fantastic?
pumpkin or pictures of
pumpkins. Point out that if
planted, the seeds will grow into Reading the Text
pumpkins. Invite children to tell
the word for seeds and pumpkin Step 1: Book Talk
in their home language.
1. Have children read the title page and then look at pages 2 and 3.
This is Dan and Grandma. Grandma is giving Dan a seed. What do you think he will
do with it? What might grow from the seed? Let’s read these pages. What will Dan
have to do next if the seed is going to grow?
2. Have children look at pages 4 and 5.
Were you right? Have you ever planted anything? What did you have to do? What
does a plant need to grow? What do you think will happen next?
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3. Have children look at page 6.
Look what has happened. How does Dan feel when he sees the little plant? How do
you know? Has this ever happened to you? How did you feel? Let’s read page 6 to
see what helped the seed grow. What do you think will happen next? Coaching Point
4. Have children look at page 7. Have children find the word
What do you notice about the pumpkin? How big do you think the pumpkin will grow? shone on page 6. How did you
5. Have children look at page 8. know which word was
shone? When I say shone, I
What’s happened to the pumpkin? How big is it? hear the sound /sh/ at the
Have children read the page to find out. Be sure they make the visual beginning. The letters s and h
comparison between the soccer ball and the pumpkin. together stand for this sound.
6. Have children look at page 9.
Now how big is the pumpkin? Yes, it’s as big as Dan’s bicycle. What do you think is
going to happen next?
7. Have children read page 10.
How big is the pumpkin now? Have you ever seen a pumpkin this big? Look at the
first sentence again. Why do you think the words are bigger? Coaching Point
8. Have children look at pages 11–13. If necessary, explain to children
What has happened to the pumpkin? Look at page 13. Why do you think the people that the author has used the
from television have come to see Dan and Grandma? Let’s read the page to find out. bigger words on page 10 to
How do you think Dan and Grandma feel now? How would you feel if television emphasize how big the
pumpkin is growing and to add
people came to visit you? Find the word fantastic. How did you know that word was
excitement to the story.
fantastic? Where have you seen that word before?
9. Ask children to look at pages 14 and 15.
When will the pumpkin stop growing? Let’s read page 15 to find out. What do you
think Dan and Grandma will do with the fantastic pumpkin? What would you do
with such an enormous pumpkin? Coaching Point
10. Stop Book Talk at this point. Children might enjoy visualizing
Now you will have a chance to read the book on your own from the beginning to the humor in trying to cut such a
find out what Dan does with his fantastic pumpkin. pumpkin and perhaps make a pie
out of it. Help them to imagine
Step 2: Individual Reading some humorous scenarios.
Have each child read the whole book at his or her own pace while remaining
in the group. Observe children as they read.
✓ Think about and note, mentally or in writing, the following: ✓Assessment
• How did children use pictures to help them read words?
• Did children ask themselves questions about what they are reading?
• Which sources of information (graphophonic, semantic, syntactic) did
children use in their problem solving?
• How did children use their knowledge about syllables to help themselves
read longer words like fantastic?
Returning to the Text
1. Discuss the story. Use open-ended questions.
What was your favorite part of the book? What would you do with a pumpkin that
grew as big as the one in the book?
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2. Depending on children’s success with the book, address one or more of the
following teaching points.
★ COMPREHENSION STRATEGY
★ Asking questions to understand key themes Walk children through the
book. Encourage their spontaneous questions about the characters and
events to help them increase their understanding of the story.
What did you do when you came to a tricky word? Did you chunk any words? How
did that help you? Did the pictures help you understand the word?
★ LITERACY SKILLS
★ Consonant digraphs Have children find the word this on page 2.
How did you know which word was this? When I say this, I hear the /th/ sound at
the beginning. The letters t and h together make this sound. What other words can
you find in the story that begin with the sound /th/? What other words do you
know that begin with this sound?
★ Vowel diphthongs Have children find the word house on page 14.
Let’s say this word. What letters spell the ou sound in house?
Invite children to name a word that rhymes with house and that means “a
small animal with round ears and a long tail.” (mouse) Have children suggest
other words with the ou sound.Write their suggestions on the chalkboard.
★ Word families Have children read the first sentence on page 6. Direct
them to the last word, fell.
Do you see the letters ell? Let’s take away the letter f from fell and add a t. (Do this
on the chalkboard.) What is the new word? What is the same about fell and tell?
Continue substituting initial consonants and helping children recognize
that the words rhyme.
★ Syllables Say the words fantastic and pumpkin, clapping out the syllables in
each word.Then have children do it with you.
How many syllables do you hear in fantastic? How many do you hear in pumpkin?
Can you think of some other words that have two syllables? Three syllables?
3. Invite children to reread the story in pairs.
Responding to the Text
Practice fluency by helping Optional independent response activities are listed below.
children preview the text and
decide ahead of time where to ✓ Reread the book. Invite children to reread The Fantastic Pumpkin on
take breaths when reading long their own.
sentences. Encourage children
to read smoothly.
✓ Write about the book. Invite children to write about this book in their
journals or to suggest their own writing projects. For instance, children
could pretend they are Dan and write their daily observations about the
✓Assessment pumpkin, or they could write about what Dan and his friends do inside
the pumpkin playhouse.
✓ Experience the book in a new way. Invite children to think about the
sequence of events in the book.Then have them pretend they are Dan and
write five diary entries about the pumpkin.
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Day 2 Optional Further Practice
Revisiting the Text
1. Review the story The Fantastic Pumpkin.
What happened to the seed Dan planted? What things were compared to the
pumpkin as it grew?
2. Have children reread the story independently or in pairs. In pairs, one
partner can read the narration and the other the dialogue.Then children
can switch roles.
Reinforcing the Text
Reinforce the ideas and skills featured in this story, using any of the
Using the book for writing Select any follow-up activity from the list below,
or invite children to provide their own writing project based on the book.
• Have children write a television news flash telling about the fantastic
• Children can create a story about a garden plant that kept on growing.
• Have children write a letter to the author with questions or suggestions.
• Mini-lesson 19: Punctuation: • Rhyme Chart 16: Cheer
quotation marks for Jean! A take-home book is available
• Strategy Card: Writers • Teaching Card 16A: Long e: for this title.
daydream and imagine. ea, ee
• Rhyme Chart 13: Lazy Mule
• Teaching Card 13B: Initial and Final
Responding to the Text A first-grader came home from
his first day of school and
Optional independent follow-up activities are listed below. announced, “I ain’t going back
• Select a different activity from the choices listed under Responding to the to school tomorrow, Mom.”
“Why not?” his mother asked.
Text for Day 1. “Well, I can’t read and I can’t
• Finish the writing project started in the small-group writing lesson. write, and the teacher won’t let
• Continue working with the Wonder Writers or Word Works materials me talk, so what’s the use?”
used in the small-group lesson. —Unknown
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