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 7. Identify and describe the author's use of language

Objective c. Identify specific words and punctuation that create tone


For early readers, determining tone might be approached from the tone of voice a character might assume in speaking their lines of dialogue. Choose a text with obvious chunks of dialogue where voices might be raised or whispered, etc. Have students reread the dialogue out loud in an appropriate tone of voice. Introduce 5-8 words that could be used to describe tone and list on a chart entitled tone. A possible list might include friendly, cheerful, respectful, angry, bossy, fearful, silly, suspicious, hopeless, and nervous. Discuss the meanings of each of the words. Then reread the selected dialogue and ask students to choose one of the words from the tone list to describe the tone of voice that the character would use when saying their lines. A clear example can be found in the book Little Red Cowboy Hat by Susan Lowell. After a first reading of the text, turn to the page when Grandma comes in and rescues Little Red Cowboy Hat. Reread these two pages and then turn to the next two pages. Read the pages aloud and note the use of exclamation marks, dialogue tags and onomatopoeia in addition to the actual words the characters are saying. Have student partners choose a word from the tone list that would best describe the tone in this section of the story and write it on a white board. Have students reveal the tone words they chose at the same time and then ask student pairs to tell why they selected that word.


Choose a second text for small group instruction with rich dialogue. After an initial reading of the text ask students to identify words from the tone list that are appropriate descriptors. Add 1 or 2 words to the tone list periodically to keep the vocabulary growing and increase the choices for students. Suggested books where tone is pronounced might include Wizzil by William Steig, The Girl Who Hated Books by Manjusha Pawagi, Bootsie Barker Bites by Barbara Bottner and Alexander, Who’s Not (Do you hear me? I mean it!) Going to Move by Judith Viorst.