Growing Readers and Writers by Teaching With Mentor Texts

The weather has been amazing here in Virginia, and signs of Spring are emerging. In fact, I've even seen daffodils blooming, so it's the perfect time to share with you a collection of Spring mentor texts you can use for modeling vocabulary, comprehension, or writing skills. We have a great collection for you, and we hope these lessons will help set you up for the weeks ahead. The Reading Crew bloggers all love literacy, and we enjoy sharing ideas with all of our readers.
Celebrate Earth Day with this Spring mentor text lesson for making inferences. Just a Dream by Chris VanAllsburg is featured in this lesson.

The book I've chosen for my lesson is by one of my favorite authors, Chris VanAllsburg. His writing style is perfect for writer's craft lessons, visualizing, making inferences, name it, and you can likely find one of his books that will fit every skill you need to model.

The title I chose is Just a Dream. It works very well for environmental studies and Earth Day. It is about a young boy who is troubled by his wasteful actions. He is haunted in his dreams which show him a glimpse of the future filled with pollution, clear cutting of trees, and wastefulness. Have you had dreams that teach you a lesson? I think we've all had crazy events wind up in our dreams. If you ask your students, who knows what they'll share with you.

Celebrate Earth Day with this Spring mentor text lesson for making inferences. Just a Dream by Chris VanAllsburg is featured in this lesson.Naturally, this lesson needs to begin with discussions about dreams, the environment, or Earth day. I chose dreams thinking that it'd be a great lead into the focus of my lesson. After all, we can certainly infer why we dream as we do, right? In the prereading stage of the lesson, students will use these activities for schema building and vocabulary development. With my students, I like to use the text clues to discuss the words I've chosen. When I select vocabulary from a text, I'm aiming at tier 2 words that are higher utility, but not in the students speaking and writing vocabulary.
Celebrate Earth Day with this Spring mentor text lesson for making inferences. Just a Dream by Chris VanAllsburg is featured in this lesson.Once you've introduced the text to your students, the next step is to dig into the book. With this book, you can begin modeling inferences with the cover. Because making inferences can be abstract, beginning with pictures makes it more concrete to the student.  As you read the text, there are pages without words. You can use these if/when concrete examples are needed for group discussion. With mentor text lessons, I typically do a few examples with my students and gradually shift the load to them. There are seven examples included in the organizer, and I recommend group discussion to provide an opportunity for students to explain their thinking. Sometimes we infer different things based upon our schema, so discussing our thinking may help students work out differing opinions.
Once your students have completed the during reading lesson, you can extend the themes of the book with writing. Students need to have opportunities to write in response to their reading, and these pages can be used for a quick write about the story, process writing explaining ways you can help the environment at school, or or as a persuasive piece explaining why it's important to care for our Earth. Writing solidifies a student's comprehension, and it's very important to share and discuss the responses after too.
In addition to the pages described, the unit also has question task cards that can be used for group discussion or Scoot as well as this Earth Day lapbook. Your students can explore endangered animals, how plants help us, global warming, how they can get involved with protecting our planet, the history of Earth day, key vocabulary, and the 3 R's (Reducing, Recycling, and Reusing Resources). This unit isn't free any longer, but you can get all of these lesson options for ($4.50). 

If you are interested in pinning these posts for later, you can follow the board below. It is the common board for all of the bloggers in the Reading Crew group.

Related Resources:

For other resources perfect for spring and Earth Day, check these mentor text sets and writing extensions. 
Miss Rumphius is a sweet book about making a difference in the world. It's perfect for this time of year to highlight the importance of Earth Day, and this unit focuses on this theme with a class book for extension. Great end of the year writing prompt FREEBIE that you can use to reflect on how your students have grown. Someday a Tree by Eve Bunting Book Companion and Earth Day Lapbook      
This freebie would work very well for modeling comprehension skills using the book, A River Ran Wild, as the mentor text. The skills with this set of lesson materials include: Author's Message Using text features to make predictions Making Comparisons across texts and Persuasive Writing. A Tree is a Plant by Clyde Bulla is a great nonfiction book for whole group modeling, to supplement a science unit on plants, as part of your Earth day unit, or for small group instruction. The unit includes comprehension materials for before, during, and after reading.
If you're curious about other mentor text lessons, check out the other links below. If you have any questions related to this lesson, please let me now. Have a wonderful Spring, and be sure to come back soon.


  1. This is FABULOUS, Carla! Making inferences is such an important skill for students to practice, practice, practice :)
    The Techie Teacher

    1. Thanks so much! Planning to use this with my students next week. :-) Nice to have it ready to print/use. :-)

  2. I love the idea of connecting the book to dreams - what a great way to make visualizing relatable for our kids! I can't wait to use this with my fourth-graders, and I know they will love the book as well! Thank you for sharing your awesome post AND freebie! xo

  3. Carla, thank you for another WONDERFUL post! You are always so thorough. I love it how you bring us all step by step. You always have such great ideas!

  4. An amazing post as always - so informative and full of great resources!
    Reading in Room 11

  5. As always, I learn so much from your posts. Thank you for sharing your informative posts. I can't wait to read this book.

  6. I love his books, too! Thank you so much for the freebie and the super ideas!

  7. Carla, thank you so much for letting me join so late to this par-tay! This is such a great linky, I hope to join in the future as well. We will have a great time at the conference!!

  8. LOVE this book - these lessons will be perfect in our Chris Van Allsburg author study! Thanks for sharing!! :)

    Third Grade Bookworm

  9. I just discovered and read this book last week and loved it! I look forward to revisiting it and using your freebie! Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. You are very welcome, and I'm so glad you can use it!


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