Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

Welcome to a Book Unit for 3rd Grade. Since this is for the start of the year, it’s also a Tune Up so we’ll take a look back at last year and a peek forward into the coming year to “tune up” your child’s skills. To accomplish this, we’ll use a terrific book – Sylvester and the Magic Pebble – for some fun activities. There are no grades because this is a way for your child to get some practice.

Depending upon your child’s starting point, this will all be new, somewhat new, or very familiar. We will take your child to the next step from his/her starting point. Our goal is to make this a pleasant learning experience that leaves him/her feeling competent and looking forward to more!

Lesson 1: Take a look at the book with your child (30-45 min)

Have your child take a look at the pictures in Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. Ask the following questions and discuss the answers.

  1. What do you see?
  2. Can you tell if this is fiction or nonfiction?
  3. Can you tell who the main character is?
  4. Can you tell if there are any other characters that might be important?
  5. What is the setting for the story?

After the discussion, ask your child to write an answer to these questions in complete sentences on a lined piece of paper:

  • What do you see?
  • Can you tell if this is fiction or nonfiction?

To get the opening sentence to the complete answer, your child can turn the question into a statement like this: [What do you see? … I see a donkey and a rock.] [Can you tell if this is fiction or nonfiction? … I can tell this is fiction because I know donkeys don’t collect pebbles.] You get the idea. If you’d like to see another sample, it is in the 3rd Sylvester Parent file.

Lesson 2: Read alone or together (30-40 min)

If your child is comfortable reading Sylvester that’s fine. If not, read the book aloud or along with your child. For this lesson, read to the end of the page where the lion mutters about the rock.

  1. Ask your child to tell you what has happened so far.
  2. Then ask your child to make a list of the most important things that have happened so far.
  3. Have your child begin a brief constructed response (BCR or paragraph) telling what has happened so far. This will consist of an Opening sentence, three Detail sentences, and a Closing sentence. For this first try, here’s the Opening sentence: Many things have happened so far in Sylvester and the Magic Pebble.
  4. Have your child pick three of the items from the list and turn them into sentences. Then write a Closing sentence.
  5. For this first time, use this as the Closing sentence: I’m can’t wait to see what happens next.
  6. Notice that the Opening and Closing sentence make a sort of handshake – they work well with each other. Also notice that the three Detail sentences are about things that have happened so far. They go with the Opening sentence.
  7. If your child is confused, write a capital O in the left margin of the paper. Then skip two lines and write a capital D, then skip two lines and write a capital D, then skip two lines and write a capital D, then skip two lines and write a capital O. This will make it easier to keep track of what is going on. If you’d like to see a sample, it is in the 3rd Sylvester Parent file.

Lesson 3: Word Work (30-40 min)

The more words your child knows, the better your child will understand what he/she reads. There are many words in Sylvester that may not be familiar to your child. Have him/her pick the unfamiliar words in the pages so far. Then have your child write a list of the words and his/her best guess at the meaning of the words.

Read the next pages in the book. Read until the end of the page where the wolf sits on the rock and howls. Ask your child to write complete sentences to answer the following sentences:

  1. What has Sylvester done to get into the situation he is in?
  2. How did his parents react to his disappearance?
  3. Why was the lion muttering?
  4. How did the neighbors react?
  5. What is happening to Sylvester as the weather changes?

Lesson 4: Finish reading Sylvester (30-40 min)

Have your child write complete sentences to answer the following questions:

  1. How does the story end?
  2. What makes it possible for this ending to take place?
  3. Who makes the wish that brings about the change in Sylvester?

Ask your child to write a complete paragraph (BCR) to answer this question. It will have an opening sentence, three details that support that sentence, and a closing sentence to wrap things up. There is a sample in the 3rd Sylvester Parent file.

How did the actions of the characters bring about the events of the story?

(To help brainstorm or discuss, ask what would have happened if Sylvester had not collected rocks that day? Ask what would have happened if the Duncans had stayed home instead of going on a picnic…)

Lesson 5: What do you think? (30-40 min)

Two questions for your child to write in separate paragraphs (BCRs):

What did your child think of the story? Did he/she like it, love it, hate it …

Ask your child to write a complete paragraph (BCR) to the prompt: How did you feel about Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. There is no correct answer. Your child can write what he/she thinks as long as it is supported by details from the story.

There is a sample in the 3rd Sylvester Parent file.

What does your child think the message of the story was? Was it stay away from rocks, be careful what you wish for, having the people you love in your life is all you need … There is no correct answer. Your child can write what he/she thinks as long as it is supported by details from the story.

Here’s the prompt: What is the main message of Sylvester and the Magic Pebble?

(Your child can use the text as well as the illustrations to support his/her reply.)

Once all the work is done, have your child check off the Common Core Objectives he/she has completed!

Common Core Objectives:

☐ I can ask and answer questions about a text. [2.RL.1]

☐ I can retell stories with understanding. [2.RL.2]

☐ I can describe how characters behave and think in a story. [2.RL.3]

☐ I can describe how characters behave and think in a story. [2.RL.3]

☐ I can explain how the illustrations support the text. [3.RL.7]

☐ I can describe the events of a story and their purposes. [2.RL.5]

☐ I can ask and answers questions about a text I have read. I can look back at the text to find answers. [3.RL.1]

☐ I can retell stories using main details and use them to understand the main idea. [3.RL.2]

☐ I can describe the characters in a story. I can explain how characters’ actions affect the story. [3.RL.3]

☐ I can write about a topic or a book and tell how I feel about it. [2.W.1]

☐ I can write an opinion piece with reasons to support it. [3.W.1]

☐ I can write organize my writing to support an opinion. [3.W.1a]

☐ I can use reasons to support an opinion. [3.W.1b]

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PARENT FILE

Lesson 01:

A complete sentence has a subject and a verb. The sentence can be short: The cat ran. The dog sat. Oscar yelled. The sentence can be long: It was a dark and stormy night. Nobody ever listened to Harry.

A sentence that answers a question restates part of the sentence. So —

A correct response to “What do you See”: I see a donkey and a rock. NOT A donkey and a rock.

Lesson 02:

When a child is starting to write paragraphs, or BCRs, it can be confusing. One way to organize his/her thoughts is to break it down first:

O Many things have happened so far in Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

D Sylvester went for a walk and found a shiny, red, round pebble.

D Sylvester could make a wish come true while touching the pebble.

D Sylvester made a bad wish and turned himself into a rock.

C I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Many things have happened so far in Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. Sylvester went for a walk and found a shiny, red, round pebble. Sylvester could make a wish come true while touching the pebble. Sylvester made a bad wish and turned himself into a rock. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

This is a process. If this is new to your child, just work on finding the details and writing them down. The rest can come once he/she totally gets what a detail is and how to find them in the stories.

Lesson 03:

Don’t get out the dictionary until after your child has made a guess based on the pictures and the sentences around the unknown word. When you do get out a dictionary, be sure it’s a dictionary for children. If that’s still too complicated, define the word in your own words.

Lesson 04:

Start with the C, D, D, D, O if you need. If that takes the entire time, that’s enough. The point is to foster a love of reading, not make it such a chore your child runs out the door when you tell him/her it’s time to read!

Lesson 05:

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. As long as your child uses details from the text and/or illustrations to back up what he/she has to say, that’s enough.