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Garden City School Library: Three of These Things

Essential Question

What does it mean to sort objects into categories?

Lesson 1 - Don't Be a Monster!

  • Readaloud: Read My Teacher is a Monster! and see if the students notice how the teacher changes as she and Bobby spend time together.
  • Discussion: Explain that teachers don't WANT to be monsters, but sometimes when our students show monster behavior, we turn into monsters too. Ask the kids to share some rules that they need to follow in the classroom and in the library. Make a T-chart of Bulldog Behavior and Monster Behavior and explain the concept of categories.

  • Activity: After kids have checked out a book from the tables, they may draw themselves as a monster (template below). A few minutes before the end of class, call them back to attention and tell them we're going to put the monster drawings into categories. See if anyone can come up with an example (color, firebreathing ability, horns), and have the kids whose monsters match that category stand up.
  • Home extension: Download the publisher's activity kit or read Peter Brown's blog entry about his inspiration for the book and the original Ms. Kirby art.

Lesson 3 - Thanks, Sesame Street

Videos: Watch the following Sesame Street videos (you can stop them after the first verse) and ask the kids to share what doesn't belong.

Kids playing sports 

Kermit and Susan 


Kids hanging out


Assessment: Students will draw four objects - three the same and one different - on the template below. Once I've figured out which one doesn't belong, they can go look for a book.

1 = All four drawings are completely different, completely the same, or done as two pairs

2 = I cannot figure out which one doesn't belong, but student explains sufficiently

3 = I am able to figure out which one doesn't belong

4 = Answer is obvious (or super sneaky and clever), drawings are unique/original 

Lesson 2 - Card Sort

  • Review: Remind the students that we talked about two categories of behavior last week: Bulldog behavior and Monster behavior. Ask for examples of how to show Bulldog behavior.

  • Discussion: Explain that all the things in a category have at least one characteristic in common. Hold up a series of objects and ask how they all go together and how one of them is different (plastic cups/different sizes, plush animals/different species, seed packets/different plants, etc.). 
  • Readloud: Read Different? Same! by Heather Tekavec, asking the students to figure out how all of the animals on each spread go together.

Lesson 4 - Book Sort

Activity: Give each table a stack of books that all into a variety of categories: hardcover / paperback; picture / chapter; etc. Ask the students to put their books into two piles. When they finish, they may look through the books while they wait for all the groups to be done. 

Using chart paper, go around the room and ask for the categories each group chose. Explain that all of the choices are correct, but that the library uses only a couple of different ways to sort books onto the shelves. Nonfiction books have numbers in their call numbers - more on that to come! 



1 = Multiple (or 1) piles of books, or group cannot articulate their categories

2 = Two piles of books with categories that make sense

3 = Two piles of books with categories that make sense AND group worked well together and quickly

4 = The categories are fiction and nonfiction and the group points out their call numbers as how they knew

Lesson 5 (skip for Monday classes)

  • Give each student a card with a colored shape on it (I got several decks in the $1 bin at Target). Tell them their assignment is to form pairs or groups and tell me how their cards go together (can be size, shape, or color). Go through several configurations.

Standards Addressed

AASL1.1.6 - Read, view, and listen for information presented in any format in order to make inferences and gather meaning; 2.1.2 - Organize knowledge so that it is useful; 2.1.6 - Use ... visual literacy ... to create products that express new understandings; 3.1.2 - Participate and collaborate as members of a social and intellectual network of learners; 4.1.1 - Read, view, and listen for pleasure and personal growth; 4.1.8 - Use creative and artistic formats to express personal learning

Common Core: RL.1.7 - Use illustrations and details in a story to describe its characters, setting, or events; SL.1.2 Ask and answer questions about key details in a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media; 1.MD.C.4 Organize, represent, and interpret data with up to three categories; ask and answer questions about the total number of data points, how many in each category, and how many more or less are in one category than in another.