Mentor Texts Lessons for Celebrating the Holidays AND Teaching Key Reading Skills

With the holidays, it can be challenging to balance keeping to the curriculum and keeping kids engaged. Mentor text lessons are a great choice for getting both jobs done. Check out this post for go-to lessons you can use this month.

With the holidays, it can be challenging to balance keeping to the curriculum and keeping kids engaged. Mentor text lessons are a great choice for getting both jobs done. Today, I'd like to share three of my favorite seasonal mentor texts and how I use them.

Christmas Tapestry by Patricia Polacco


With the holidays, it can be challenging to balance keeping to the curriculum and keeping kids engaged. Mentor text lessons are a great choice for getting both jobs done. Check out this post for go-to lessons you can use this month.
It's no secret that I love Patricia Polacco. Her writing just touches me in so many ways. I love the themes she includes and the messages she sends to her readers through her books. One I've enjoyed using during December is Christmas Tapestry. It does involve the church setting, but the focus is not on religion. It is all about overcoming challenges, family traditions, and connections. I think the link to the past provides a great segue to discussions of family history and past generations.

With this book, I have taught several skills including visualizing, sequencing events, making comparisons, and the key focus...questioning skills. The method in this set is Question Answer Relationship. There is a questioning anchor chart, task cards for sorting (and answering), and post reading options for response.

The Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett

With the holidays, it can be challenging to balance keeping to the curriculum and keeping kids engaged. Mentor text lessons are a great choice for getting both jobs done. Check out this post for go-to lessons you can use this month.
When I think of winter authors, the top pick for me is Jan Brett.
Jan Brett Author Study with 11 Titles
[This Jan Brett Author Study] has been in the top 100 list in the past and continues to be my top seller. I think it's because the bundle can be used from November through March with ease, and that the units within the bundle offer options for whole group, small group, partners, or centers, but The Gingerbread Baby is a favorite. I've used it for years with my students in the middle grades. It is perfect for sequencing events, story retelling, and making comparisons. 

As a mentor text, the best skill would be retelling. To introduce retellings, the teacher can model the story plot using the plot mountain or a sequencing chart. From there, discussions of what would be included in a retelling would be a good idea. Perhaps narrowing the focus with an anchor chart to focus on just the main story elements.  This activity is included as a project within the unit. 
With the holidays, it can be challenging to balance keeping to the curriculum and keeping kids engaged. Mentor text lessons are a great choice for getting both jobs done. Check out this post for go-to lessons you can use this month.

Christmas in the Country

With the holidays, it can be challenging to balance keeping to the curriculum and keeping kids engaged. Mentor text lessons are a great choice for getting both jobs done. Check out this post for go-to lessons you can use this month.The last book in my December mentor text list comes from another favorite author, Cynthia Rylant. All of her books lend themselves well to the skill of visualizing and imagery. Cynthia Rylant's writing is filled with description, and this book is a great example of that. 

To help children visualize, it's important to probe with questions that help them use text information to create pictures. In the printable within this unit, I ask key questions that point to specific story scenes. In addition to using text information, artist storyboard is another great strategy to use. For this, students draw what they picture. I've had kids draw out their ideas in shaving cream on their desk or illustrate with colored pencils. For additional practice, [this freebie] in my store can be used with any book. 

In addition to visualizing, this bundle includes materials for schema building, vocabulary, story elements, questioning, and writing in response to reading options.

Happy Thanksgiving readers! Sending you wishes for special time with family and lots of rest.
With the holidays, it can be challenging to balance keeping to the curriculum and keeping kids engaged. Mentor text lessons are a great choice for getting both jobs done. Check out this post for go-to lessons you can use this month.

7 comments

  1. What a wonderful post, Carla. So generous of you to put these units up for just a dollar. Thanks for sharing your hard work and making our teaching lives a little easier, while enriching the lives of our students! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

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    1. Well...it'll be one per day, so be sure to check daily, okay? Thanks for dropping in!

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  2. Do you sell these as a bundle in your store on TPT?

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    1. I do, but I need to update that bundle. Search Christmas bundle in my store. I will try to update it today. I recently remade a few units.

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    2. Sheryl-It is now updated. I added all of the digital options to it as well as the holiday partner plays I have written. Here is the link:
      https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Christmas-Book-Unit-Bundle-in-Digital-and-PDF-formats-1572899

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