When I taught first grade over five years ago I began doing a version of close reads with my learners. Close reading wasn’t “a thing” then, but I couldn’t stand spending so little time with some of my favorite texts with my learners. I chose to spend a week focusing on a piece of quality literature during our read aloud time.
One of my favorite books to read during the fall is Fletcher and the Falling Leaves by Julia Rawlinson. I adore the main character and how he interacts with the changes that happen in his forest during the fall. My learners are able to see fall from a different perspective and become enlightened on why the changes during autumn are so important for the animals.
Day 1 | Main Idea
The first day of our reading, we focus on determining the main idea of the text. I set the purpose of reading before I begin and we make predictions based on the title and cover of the book. Then, I read the book straight through and let the learners enjoy it. After reading, the learners pair and share what they believe the main idea of the text is. Then we discuss as a group what the text was mostly about to determine if we all came to the same conclusion.
Day 2 | Vocabulary
The next day of our read aloud, we listen for our vocabulary words in the text. I have the learners pay attention to how the author helps us to know what the words mean using the text or pictures. After reading, we revisit the text to discuss how the context clues allow us to understand the meaning of our vocabulary words. Then, we complete our vocabulary page together.
Day 3 | Text Structure
The third day of our close read, we pay attention to the structure of the text. I provide the learners with a handful of examples to help them come to a conclusion on the text structure. For example, does the text describe something, pose a problem and solution, provide a sequence of events, etc. After reading we pair and share what they believe the text structure is. Then, we come to a conclusion of the structure of the text together and complete the story map chart.
Day 4| Inference
The fourth day of our close read, we focus on the fall leaves in the text. I explain that we will only be reading the parts of the story that involve the leaves. I ask the learners to make an inference about the leaves in the autumn by thinking about what the author is writing and what they already know about autumn. After reading we create a list of inferences they were able to make about the leaves. Then, we complete the “Falling Leaves” printable in groups and the learners illustrate and write about the inferences we made.
Day 5 | Paired Text and Craft
The fifth and final day of our close read, we read another text to compare Fletcher and the Falling Leaves to. We paired the book Leaves by David Ezra Stein. Which tells the story of another forest animal witnessing the changes of autumn for the first time. We pair and share how the books are the same and different before completing the a fall craft together.
Paper Bag Fall Tree
I love creating a fall tree and this is the perfect time for my learners to make a tree like the ones in the books we read. We use a brown bag, pencil, scissors, glue, some fall colored construction paper and set to work.
Open the bag up and twist the tree trunk so the bag can stand.
Then, have your learners twist the strips to make tree branches.
Let your learners tear pieces of fall colored paper or you could use fall leaves like these.
Now it is time for them to glue their leaves onto the tree. Talk with your learners while they glue and many will tell you about how the leaves have fallen and some of the branches are bare, etc. All great ways to show what they learned from the week’s read aloud.
You can grab the printables I used for this fall close read here. You are more than welcome to use these in your classroom to help you learners dig a bit deeper into this book!