Pancakes for Kindergarten

I love teaching literacy at my school because we are committed to teaching reading, writing, and word study through genre studies. In each grade, children cycle through the genres of folktales, personal narrative, poetry, author study and nonfiction.
My kindergarten team and I just wrapped up our nursery rhyme unit. Next up: wordless picture books and pattern books. I have always loved Tomie de Paola’s Pancakes for Breakfast, so my co-teacher and I kicked off the unit with this mentor text.

My students LOVED the story and were completely surprised by the twist (as was my co-teacher, a first time read for him!). For the rest of the week, we focused on Tomie’s work as an illustrator: what did he do to help tell his story? How were we all able to read the story? The students noticed detailed backgrounds, main characters, and careful attention to drawing and coloring, which transferred beautifully to their own independent writing work.

As readers, students became more empowered with using the clear and detailed pictures to help their independent storytelling. Partner reading has been a hit with my students, as they hold each other accountable for telling the story and supporting details on each page. Already, students are using helpful transition and sequential words (first, then, next, finally) in their reading of the illustrations.

But back to Pancakes for Breakfast…our literacy liaison (@bon_greenwald) gave us an amazing idea to help connect this wordless picture book to our dual study of pattern books. “What if you make pancakes with the students,” she suggested, “and then document the experience in a pattern book?”

I was hooked. My co-teacher and I immediately planned in for pancake cooking time on Friday morning. The students loved naming out the ingredients as I added them to the bowl and mixed them up.

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We changed our book plan slightly so that we would start with a wordless picture book.  With the sweet memory of pancakes still on their minds after the weekend, we presented the new book to the students. Right away, they knew a perfect title for our version:

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The students took care to read each page, sharing their reading in a clear and proud voice. Tomorrow, we’ll start thinking about adding words to our book and consider how we might repeat certain words and phrases in our story. I can’t wait to hear what my growing readers and writers decide.

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