School Improvement in Maryland

Using the State Curriculum: Reading/ELA, Grade 2

Reading/ELA | Informational | Literary | Writing | Language | Listening | Speaking

Lesson Seeds: The lesson seeds are ideas for the indicator/objective that can be used to build a lesson. Lesson seeds are not meant to be all-inclusive, nor are they substitutes for instruction.

Standard 3.0 Comprehension of Literary Text

Indicator 2. Use text features to facilitate understanding of literary texts

Objective b. Identify and explain how text features, such as illustrations, punctuation, and print features, contribute to meaning


Begin by selecting a wordless picture book. Ask students if they prefer to read stories, poems and plays with or without pictures. Talk about ways that pictures help readers with understanding the text (may help with words they don't know, with a new idea, help keep track of story events, help visualize the setting or characters, etc.) Explain that sometimes pictures can tell the whole story. Divide the class into two rows that are facing one another. Identify the opposite students as partners. Tell them that today they will use only pictures to tell a story with their partner. The students will use the pictures on alternating pages of a text to tell the story to one another. For example, if the selected text were One Scary Night by Antoine Guiloppe, the teacher would open to the first two pages of the story. The teacher would stand behind one row of the students, exposing the picture to the students sitting on the opposite side. The students will begin the story by using the illustration on these two pages. In our example the students see a child walking in the snow on a dark night so they would say something like "One dark night a boy was walking in the snow". Next, the teacher moves to the opposite row and exposes the pictures on the next page to the students who listened to the start of the story on the first two pages. These students add to the story based on what they see on the next page. Again, in our example, the students see the child moving towards trees, so the story may continue "The little boy marched bravely towards the trees in the forest". The teacher would then move to the opposite row and the process would continue in this repeated pattern until the book is complete. The student pairs could then write the story that they made up based on the pictures. When all students have completed the writing of their story they can share with the class to see the different versions. The example text is a good choice for this type activity because there is suspense and a surprise ending. Other wordless books that this might work with include Breakfast for Jack by Pat Schories and The Red Book by Barbara Lehman.


Choose several literary texts related to the same topic or story line. For example, several books anticipating snow could be chosen (see list below for possible books). Over several days, read the texts with the students in a shared fashion (document camera or enlarged text). Have students examine the pictures along with the text in each book to determine how the pictures help the reader understand the story. Cover the words at times to see if the story line is clear without the text. Look at the differences in illustration style. Could the pictures tell the story without the text? Could the text tell the story without the pictures? Help students use these texts to draw conclusions about the importance of utilizing pictures to understand a story. Discuss why chapter books have fewer illustrations.

Books about Snow for Illustration/Story Discussion
The Snowman by Raymond Briggs Very few words; pictures and illustrations both tell the entire story; each could probably stand without the other
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats Pictures and words work together; text makes the meaning of the pictures more clear
Snow Day by Barbara M. Joosse Text carries the story and provides details; illustrations help set the happy, playful tone
Snow by Uri Shulevitz The text is simple and is very much enriched by the illustrations; the pictures and words work together to tell the story
The Big Snow by Berta and Elmer Hader The story is detailed and could carry itself without the illustrations; the illustrations elaborate on the author's words
White Snow Bright Snow by Alvin Tresselt The story is told through the words and the illustrations show the important ideas in the text
Snow by Cynthia Rylant Illustrations are detailed and prominent on the page; the text clarifies the action on the pages and holds it together

Rich discussion could center on the different ways that the authors represented the anticipation of snow, the beginning of the snow, snow falling, and after the snow. Each illustrator's approach helps create a mood for the reader.


Introduce students to the effects of punctuation and print features using picture books that tell their story with exaggerated examples. Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin is a story that the students are probably familiar with that uses both print features and punctuation for effect. The author changes the font style and uses bold print to indicate the animals typing. She uses an abundance of exclamation points when Farmer Brown speaks. The teacher may ask students to take parts and read this aloud in order to orally interpret the punctuation. Other books by this same author utilize print in interesting ways as well. Her Diary of a Worm and Diary of a Spider incorporate some of the text into the illustrations. Patricia Hubell's books about transportation (Trains: Steaming! Pulling! Puffing, Cars: Rushing! Honking! Zooming! &Trucks: Whizz! Zoom! Rumble) are also good examples for this study. In her books she uses a variety of punctuation marks (including ellipses and hyphens) and changes in print to keep her stories fun and interesting. Again, use teacher modeling to demonstrate how these choices impact the oral reading of the story. Explain that by using the print features effectively the reader makes it sound the way the author wanted it to sound and this leads to better understanding. Continue to note punctuation and print features in small group lessons. Use Marla Frazee's book, Roller Coaster to show how the author uses a combination of language and punctuation to slow the action as the roller coaster goes up the hill, building the anticipation of the roller coaster reaching the top and rushing down the other side. Have students read aloud the pages to show the effectiveness of these print features. One text for teaching the effective use of ellipses is Once There Was a Bull…(Frog) by Rick Walton. In this text the author does a great job of using the ellipses in combination with picture and meaning clues to help readers anticipate the second part of a compound word. Challenge students to locate these print features in their self-selected independent reading books and provide sharing time to increase interest in this pursuit.