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Garden City School Library: Now I Know My ABCs

Essential Question

How do authors use the alphabet to create stories?

Lesson 1 - The Z Was Zapped!

  • Readaloud: Introduce The Z Was Zapped by Chris Van Allsburg. Explain that each letter has something happening to it, and the students' job is to figure out what the action is. Point out that the action starts with the same letter being featured. On each page, ask the students to raise their hand if they think they can figure out what action is happening to the letter. Some of the pages, like J and W, could be described by several words. 
  • Assignment: When the readaloud is done, hold up the book cover outline and explain to the kids that they will now create their own book cover using The Z Was Zapped as a model. It needs to be original - no copying what Chris Van Allsburg already did. For today, their covers (template below) must contain two elements:

         - Title featuring a letter of the alphabet having something done to it that starts with the same letter

         - Their full name as author

    If they have time, they may draw an illustration. They can always finish next week during checkout. Tell them to leave the call number on the spine blank; we'll fill it in later.

    Monitor the students as they work, helping with spelling and ensuring that the words match the letters. 

  • Assessment:

1 = Nothing on the page

2 = Title is not alliterative or author name is missing/incomplete or concept is plagiarized

3 = Original alliterative title and author's full name included

4 = Both required elements appear, in addition to exceptional creativity and/or illustration


Lesson 2 - E Call Numbers

  • Activity: Give everyone back their Z was Zapped papers. Ask them to get into alphabetical order by the letter they featured on their covers, with the beginning of the alphabet at one end of the room and the ending at the other. Model with your cover to show where you would stand.

  • Discussion: Explain that we don't shelve books in the library according to their title. We use something else - the call number. This label on the spine tells us where each book lives. Hand out copies of the file below and ask the students to see if they can figure out the pattern of how "everyone" books are shelved. How are these call numbers created?

  • Activity: Now that they know how to create an E call number, the students can add theirs to their paper. Once everyone is done, have them line up in shelf order. Tell them that they probably won't be in the same place as next time. Again, model with your cover. 

  • Assessment:

    1 = Incorrect call number, doesn't find place in either alpha order activity

    2 = Correct call number, but only finds place in one alpha order activity

    3 = Correct call number, finds place in both alpha order activities

    4 = Above plus asks to create extra covers (bring extra copies)


  • Extension: If you need to fill time in case everyone finishes, show the kids the creations of students at other schools: The Z Was Zapped - YouTube and The Z was Zapped Display - YouTube.

Lesson 3 - Oops! Pounce! Quick! Run!

  • Readaloud: Remind the kids that the alphabet is the basis for so many ways of filing, storing, and retrieving information. And it can also be the basis for a story! Read The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABCs (the Hard Way) and Oops! Pounce! Quick! Run! by Mike Twohy.     
  • Activity: Make a list of words in alphabetical order, asking the students for suggestions. Ask them to NOT use the Fundations words that are posted ... get creative! They can start on any letter. Once you have a list, make up a ridiculous story out loud.
  • Assignment: Now the students will make up their own illustrated stories using at least four alphabetical order words. Template below.
  • Assessment: 

1 = Nothing on the page

2 = Fewer than four panels completed or they are not in alphabetical order

3 = Four panels completed with featured words in alphabetical order

4 = More than four panels completed correctly

Standards Addressed

AASL: I.B.3 - Generating products that illustrate learning; III.D.1 - Actively contributing to group discussions; IV.B.4 - Organizing information by priority, topic, or other systematic scheme; V.A.1 - Reading widely and deeply in multiple formats and write and create for a variety of purposes

RI Core: RL.2.7 - Use information gained from the illustrations and words in a print or digital text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot; SL.2.1 - Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 2 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups;  SL.2.2 Ask and answer questions about/recount or describe key details in a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media; W.2.3 - Write narratives in prose or poem form that recount a well-elaborated event or experience, or a set of events or experiences; L.2.1 - Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking; NBT.2.A.2 - Identify patterns

Rhode Island Cross-Curricular Proficiencies: Communication - Identify relevant information; Use a method of communication (e.g., written, oral, visual, graphic, audio, and/or interactive) to present ideas; Present information and ideas coherently, with logical sequence; Problem Solving and Critical Thinking - Identify relevant information/data from resources and analyze patterns and trends to identify relationships

Rhode Island School Library Curriculum Priority Skills: 1.1 - With help, begins to use library labels and ABC arrangement of picture books to locate materials; Uses writing process, emergent writing, and drawing to develop expression of new understandings; 3.2 - Participates in collaborative conversations with peers and adults to share ideas and information