Kate Coombs

Lesson Ideas for Grades K-2

For Teachers | K-2 Lesson Ideas | 3-6 Lesson Ideas

Note: Academic standards listed below are from the state of California. Other states have similar standards.

  • Ask each student to make a list of five happy secrets and then illustrate his/her favorite one to share with the class.

  • One kind of happy secret is a nice surprise. Help your students come up with ideas for nice little surprises they can plan for someone in their families. Have them follow up with a journal entry or sharing activity in class.

  • Read the Greek myth King Midas's Ears, a very old (and very funny) folktale about secret keeping. Ask your students: Why did the barber have so much trouble keeping the secret? Have you ever had trouble keeping a secret? Should a secret ever be told?

  • In The Secret-Keeper, the people of the village keep kind of separate in the beginning, but they come together in the end. Read Stone Soup and compare the way those villagers do something similar. Discuss: Why is it nice to be alone sometimes? Why is it good to come together sometimes? When does it help to work together? What makes us stay apart? What brings us together? How is our class like a village?

  • One of the California state standards for first grade is to study plot, setting, and character in a story, as well as a story's beginning, middle, and end. [Reading 3.1] Have your students analyze these elements for The Secret-Keeper. Ask them which elements seem most important in this story, and why. Which do they like better, the story's beginning, middle, or end—and why?

  • First graders are also supposed to learn about the role of authors and illustrators in creating books. [Reading 3.2] Discuss: What is an author? How can the students in our class become authors? Follow up with a project in which students create and share folded 8-page books. It's okay if they're mostly pictures. Here are a couple of story starters:

    • What if you came to school and a dragon was sitting in front of your classroom door?

    • What if your best friend turned into a miniature elephant?

    • What if your parents said you had to move to the North Pole tomorrow?

    • What if you were the best basketball player in the U.S.?

    • What if your TV started talking to you?

  • One of the state standards for second grade is to study folk and fairy tale variations. [Reading 3.3] The Secret-Keeper is meant to read like a folk tale. With your students, find out why it isn't a real folk tale. What is a folk tale? (What about a fairy tale? Is there a difference?)

  • Another state standard for second grade is for children to generate alternate endings to plots. [Reading 3.2] Here are two fun ways to do that:

    • Ask "What if?" to change an important plot point. For example, "What if Cinderella didn't lose her glass slipper?"

    • Ask "What if?" to throw something fun into the mix. For example, "What if the seven dwarves in Snow White were a soccer team?"

  • Once your students understand that folk tales come from the oral tradition, have them address why the oral tradition of story telling was so important hundreds of years ago. What was different then? Who told the stories? Who listened? Did the stories ever teach a lesson? Why?

  • While studying folk tales and the oral tradition, it may amaze your students to know that they themselves are the keepers and perpetuators of a powerful oral tradition—jump rope rhymes! See how many jump rope rhymes your students can record from memory. Find out if some of the rhymes vary—if so, is it because one student learned his/her version from an older sibling or parent, or even at another school? Read Anna Banana: 101 Jump Rope Rhymes (Joanna Cole and Alan Tiegreen), Jump Rope Rhymes by The Lady with the Alligator Purse, and other books about jump rope rhymes. Your students might even write a class book of jump rope rhymes, inventing some fresh rhymes of their own for the occasion.

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