Reading, Speaking, and Listening: Close Read-aloud Session 1 and Play and Exploration with Play Dough | EL Education Curriculum

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Reading, Speaking, and Listening: Close Read-aloud Session 1 and Play and Exploration with Play Dough

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These are the CCS Standards addressed in this lesson:

  • RL.K.1: With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
  • RL.K.3: With prompting and support, identify characters, settings, and major events in a story.
  • SL.K.1: Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about kindergarten topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
  • SL.K.1a: Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., listening to others and taking turns speaking about the topics and texts under discussion).
  • SL.K.1b: Continue a conversation through multiple exchanges.

Daily Learning Targets

  • I can participate in conversations with my classmates. (SL.K.1)
  • I can identify characters in a story that is read to me. (RL.K.1, RL.K.3)

Ongoing Assessment

  • During Close Read-aloud Session 1 in Work Time A, monitor students' progress towards RL.K.1 and RL.K.3.
  • During Work Time B, circulate and observe students' interactions as they play together. Consider using the Speaking and Listening Checklist to assess students' progress toward SL.K.1 (see Assessment Overview and Resources).
  • During the Think-Pair-Share protocol in the Closing, listen as students converse about their playtime. Use this information to inform instruction about discussion norms in subsequent lessons.


AgendaTeaching Notes

1. Opening

A. Establishing Norms for Conversation (5 minutes)

2. Work Time

A. Close Read-aloud Session 1: Llama Llama Time to Share (15 minutes)

B. Developing Language: Play and Exploration with Play Dough (30 minutes)

3. Closing and Assessment

A. Reflecting on Learning (10 minutes)

Purpose of lesson and alignment to standards:

  • This lesson introduces the first of a series of close read-alouds of the anchor text for the unit, Llama Llama Time to Share by Anna Dewdney. Students strengthen their ability to understand and converse with their peers about the text as they hear it read aloud multiple times and engage actively through the use of puppets, the Llama Llama's Feelings anchor chart, and text-dependent questions (RL.K.1, RL.K.3, RL.K.4, RL.K.7, SL.K.1). At the end of Unit 1, students will participate in an assessment that measures their ability to answer a question about the central message of the anchor text using the illustrations as a guide (RL.K.1, RL.K.7).
  • A close read-aloud is an instructional practice that gives beginning readers an opportunity to study a complex text with teacher support, for the purpose of deep comprehension. A close read-aloud of a particular text occurs in a series of short sessions (approximately 20-25 minutes each) across multiple lessons. In the first session, students hear the entire text read aloud by the teacher, without interruption. In subsequent sessions, the teacher poses a focusing question to set a purpose for deeper analysis and facilitates deeper comprehension by rereading excerpts of the text with this question in mind. In each session, the teacher lifts students' understanding of the text through purposeful text-dependent questions, interactive discussion, and other activities that support comprehension. In the final session, students synthesize their learning by answering the focusing question through a culminating writing or speaking task.
  • Close read-alouds are meant to support a deep understanding of a worthy text, support students' mastery of the CCSS reading informational or literature standards, and engage students with discussion, movement, and dramatic expression. Monitor both students' understanding and their engagement; adjust the practice as necessary to support each.
  • For every close read-aloud, there is a Close Read-aloud Guide (see supporting materials). This material lays out the entire sequence of sessions. Before launching the first session with a given text, review the entire guide to have the big picture of the work students will do with that text across multiple lessons. Keep this guide in hand across the multiple lessons.
  • The pages of Llama Llama Time to Share are not numbered. For instructional purposes, the page that begins with "Llama Llama playing trains, driving trucks ..." should be considered page 1 and all pages thereafter numbered accordingly.
  • Close read-alouds are distinct from, and do not replace, more typical daily read-alouds. Daily read-alouds are essential so students experience the volume of reading needed to build their world knowledge and vocabulary. For suggestions of texts (related to the module topic) to use in more typical read-alouds, see the Recommended Texts and Other Resources list. These texts can be purchased; many of them can also be found in local libraries. To enhance this list, consider bringing in other texts you know of that relate to the module topic.
  • In this lesson, students also begin to explore a classroom toy together. Through play, exploration, and reflection on their play, they begin to build speaking and listening skills by conversing with one another about play. (SL.K.1)

How this lesson builds on previous work:

  • In Lesson 1, students received a letter from the principal, challenging them to become play experts by discovering the toys in their classroom and learning how to play together. This lesson continues that work as students are introduced to a new classroom toy and explore that toy together. Through conversations during and after play, students continue to work toward the learning target: "I can participate in conversations with my classmates."

Looking ahead to future lessons:

  • This is the first lesson in a series (Lessons 2-5) in which students participate in a close reading of Llama Llama Time to Share and then explore a new classroom toy. Preview the Close Read-aloud Guide to fully understand the arc of these three lessons to see how the learning and skills build from one lesson to the next.
  • During the Think-Pair-Share protocol in the Closing, students will share ideas for ways to take care of others and materials during play. In the Closing of Lesson 3, students will help co-create the Ways We Take Care brainstorm chart. Sharing their ideas during today's lesson will scaffold students' readiness for recording them in the next lesson.
  • If possible, take photos of students playing together during Work Time B. In Lesson 6, these photos will be used to support the creation of the Commitments for Playing Together anchor chart. Four specific behaviors will be listed on the chart: sharing, taking care of materials, inviting others in, and using kind words as they play. The photos should show students exemplifying these behaviors.

In Advance

  • Prepare a location for whole group gathering (example: a large rug or floor area) for the Opening, Work Time A, and Closing.
  • Preview the Close Read-aloud Guide: Llama Llama Time to Share (Session 1; for teacher reference) to familiarize yourself with what will be required of students. Note that the guide is divided into sessions. Complete only Session 1 in this lesson, as students will complete the remaining sessions in Lessons 3-4.
  • Consider and prepare the best classroom areas for small groups to explore play dough together by setting out play dough in those areas.
  • If play dough is not available, choose a similar toy that will also help students build fine motor skills and encourage collaborative play (examples: modeling clay or Wikki Stix).
  • The time allotted for cleaning up play dough assumes that students have had practice with cleanup procedures before this lesson. Consider adding more explicit instruction and time as necessary.
  • Post: Learning targets, Conversation Norms anchor chart, "Play Today" poem: Part 1, Conversation Partner chart, and Think-Pair-Share anchor chart.

Tech and Multimedia

Consider using an interactive whiteboard or document camera to display lesson materials.

  • Opening A: Create the Conversation Norms anchor chart in an online format, for example a Google Doc, to display.
  • Opening A and Opening B: Record the whole group singing the "Talk and Listen" song, and saying the "Play Today" poem: Part I. Post them on a teacher webpage or on a portfolio app like Seesaw for students to listen to at home with families. Most devices (cell phones, tablets, laptop computers) come equipped with free audio recording apps or software.
  • Work Time B and Closing and Assessment A: Record students as they have their conversations to listen to with students later to discuss strengths and what they could improve on, or to use as models for the group. Most devices (cell phones, tablets, laptop computers) come equipped with free audio recording apps or software.

Supporting English Language Learners

Supports guided in part by CA ELD Standards K.I.A.1, K.I.B.5, and K.I.B.6

Important points in the lesson itself

  • The basic design of this lesson supports ELLs by incorporating opportunities for play and exploration. This will give students a chance to use language and develop social skills with an authentic purpose.
  • During the first close reading, ELLs may find it challenging to comprehend the story, since the reading will be largely uninterrupted. Remind students to look at the illustrations to help them understand the story. Reassure students that even if they don't understand every word, they can tell the most important parts of the story. Remind them that they will read the story again so that they can understand it even better.

Levels of support

For lighter support:

  • During Closing and Assessment A, invite two intermediate or advanced proficiency students to "fishbowl" for the class to model the Think-Pair-Share protocol.

For heavier support:

  • During Work Time B, group students heterogeneously by proficiency level so that higher proficiency students can take the lead. If possible, group students who speak the same home language. Using their home language will make students more comfortable discussing play in English; it will also facilitate transfer of communication skills across languages.


  • Before Work Time B, suggest and review possible phrases and sentence starters to use while playing to facilitate communication. Examples: "This is fun because _________." "Would you like to use this color next?" "Look what I made!" "Watch me smoosh! Watch me stretch!"


  • When pretending to shoot the bow and arrow at the learning target, remind students about what a bow and arrow is and show the photograph or illustration.
  • Review the Think-Pair-Share protocol. Encourage students who are using it correctly and redirect students who may be confused.

Universal Design for Learning

  • Multiple Means of Representation (MMR): In this lesson, students continue to practice the Think-Pair-Share protocol. This protocol is still new, and some students may need additional support remembering what the steps of the protocol look like and sound like. Invite a few students to demonstrate the steps before beginning the protocol with the entire class.
  • Multiple Means of Action & Expression (MMAE): In this lesson, students are introduced to a new material: play dough. Some students will need examples of ways to physically manipulate this material before trying it on their own. As you explain to students that they will play with play dough, demonstrate how to roll a ball, make a coil, or press the play dough flat.
  • Multiple Means of Engagement (MME): As you read Llama Llama Time to Share, some students may need explicit prompts to relate to this text. Optimize relevance by asking students to share connections to the text based on their own experiences and preferences.


Key: Lesson-Specific Vocabulary (L); Text-Specific Vocabulary (T)


  • identify (L)
  • character, llama, gnu (T)


  • conversations, participate (L)


  • "Talk and Listen" song (for teacher reference)
  • Conversation Norms anchor chart (new; teacher-created; see supporting materials)
  • "Learning Target" poem (from Lesson 1)
  • Close Read-aloud Guide: Llama Llama Time to Share (Session 1; for teacher reference; see supporting materials)
    • Llama Llama Time to Share (one to display; for teacher read-aloud)
    • Llama Llama puppet and Nelly Gnu puppet (for teacher use)
    • Llama Llama Time to Share (extra copy; one to cut and use for puppets and anchor chart visuals; see supporting materials)
  • "Play Today" poem: Part I (written on chart paper; one to display)
  • Play dough (three 3 lb. tubs divided into balls for groups of three or four students to play with together)
    • Speaking and Listening Checklist (see Assessment Overview and Resources for Module 1)
  • Conversation Partner chart (from Lesson 1)
  • Think-Pair-Share anchor chart (begun in Lesson 1)

Materials from Previous Lessons

New Materials


Each unit in the K-2 Language Arts Curriculum has one standards-based assessment built in. The module concludes with a performance task at the end of Unit 3 to synthesize their understanding of what they accomplished through supported, standards-based writing.


OpeningMeeting Students' Needs

A. Establishing Norms for Conversation (5 minutes)

  • Gather students whole group.
  • Tell them that they will learn a new song today. Explain that this song will give them a clue about something they did yesterday and will practice doing again today.
  • Model singing the "Talk and Listen" song for students.
  • Invite students to quietly and quickly stand up.
  • Sing the song as a whole group, repeating once or twice as time permits.
  • Invite students to sit down.
  • Ask:

"What do you think this song is telling us?" (about talking and listening; think about the question; look at one another and take turns)

  • Ask students to put a thumb up in front of their chest if they have an idea.
  • Invite a student with a thumb up to share his or her thinking. If necessary, guide students to understand that the song is telling them about talking with and listening to one another.
  • Direct students' attention to the posted learning targets and read the first one aloud:

"I can participate in conversations with my classmates."

  • Tell students: "The song tells us three important things to do when we talk and listen to one another. We will use this chart to help us remember."
  • Refer to the Conversation Norms anchor chart and briefly read each norm aloud.
  • Tell students they will have a lot of practice this year learning how to talk with and listen to each other.
  • Invite students to take out their imaginary magic bows and take aim at the target while you recite the "Learning Target" poem aloud.
  • Invite students to take aim at the first target.
  • For ELLs: Use illustrations and hand gestures to signal key words in the "Talk and Listen" song. Example: When singing the word talk, move hand away from mouth; when singing the word listen, cup hand behind ears. Hold up a picture of a child talking while signing the word talk.
  • Multiple Means of Representation: Before singing the "Talk and Listen" song, activate background knowledge by previewing the question you will ask: "What is this song about?"
  • Multiple Means of Action & Expression: In the "Learning Target" poem, vary the methods for response by inviting students to join you in movements for particular phrases. Examples: "think of the thing," "in your heart," "keep your eyes," "take your aim."
  • Multiple Means of Engagement: Optimize relevance of conversation norms by asking: "Why are the Conversation Norms important? What will they help us do?"

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Close Read-aloud Session 1: Llama Llama Time to Share (15 minutes)

  • Direct students' attention to the posted learning targets and read the second one aloud:

"I can identify characters in a story that is read to me."

  • Explain that students will listen to a new book read aloud. As they listen, they will identify, or name, the characters in the story.
  • Invite students to take out their imaginary magic bow and take aim at the second target.
  • Guide students through the close read-aloud for Llama Llama Time to Share using the Close Read-aloud Guide: Llama Llama Time to Share (Session 1; for teacher reference)
  • During Session 1, refer to the guide for the use of the Llama Llama puppet and Nelly Gnu puppet.
  • For ELLs: Not all students may have the experience of children visiting each other's homes to play. Explain this concept before beginning the reading. Example: "Sometimes children like to visit a friend or neighbor to play. An adult might even come with them. This is a story about a new friend who visits Llama at his home." (MMR)
  • As you discuss the learning target, clarify the meaning of character by using images of familiar characters next to pictures of books. Example: "David is the character in the book No, David!" (MMR)
  • After reading Llama Llama Time to Share, optimize relevance by contextualizing information based on students' experiences and preferences. Examples: "Give a thumbs-up if you have had to share a toy before" or "Whisper to your shoulder buddy one material you might have to share in kindergarten." (MME)

B. Developing Language: Play and Exploration with Play Dough (30 minutes)

  • Direct students' attention to the posted "Play Today" poem: Part 1.
  • Read it aloud, pointing to each word as you say it.
  • Tell students you will read the poem again, and this time they should join in.
  • Reread the poem with students.
  • Point to the second line and reread it aloud:

"Let us talk about it, and then we will see."

  • Ask:

 "Do these words remind you of anything?" ("Talk and Listen" song; first learning target)

  • Explain that talking during play is one important way that students can have fun while playing, and it will be important to talk during today's play ... and it is almost time to play!
  • Using a total participation technique, invite responses from the group:

"What is an action we can do while reading this part that shows what the poem is saying?" (talk together)

  • Tell students you are going to read the poem aloud again and incorporate their ideas for actions. Invite them to join you as you begin reading and acting.
  • Invite students to move to a spot around the edge of the whole group gathering area so everyone can see the toy in the middle. As needed, remind them to move safely and make space for everyone.
  • Introduce play dough by placing it in the middle of the gathering area.
  • Invite students to think about how they would like to play with it by asking:

"What could you make using play dough? How could you pretend with it?" (Responses will vary.)

  • Briefly explain what students will need to do to take care of the play dough, keeping directions brief and clear. Instructions might include: Keep it on the workspace, do not mix colors, and use only your hands to explore it.
  • Call students in groups of three or four to go to predetermined areas and begin playing with the play dough.
  • Give students 10-15 minutes to play. As they play in small groups, circulate and engage with them about their play. Consider prompting students by saying and asking:

"Tell me what you are making/playing."

"What/how are you playing?"

  • Consider using the Speaking and Listening Checklist (see Assessment Overview and Resources).
  • Signal all students to stop playing using a designated sound such as a chime or whistle. If time allows, practice responding to the signal a few times to reinforce this routine.
  • Model cleanup procedures, keeping directions clear and brief.
  • Direct students to clean up their play area and then walk safely to the whole group gathering area. Consider playing a particular song during the cleanup process and remind students that they need to complete their cleanup by the end of the song.
  • For ELLs: Beginning students may not initially engage with their play through speaking. While circulating the room, prompt students by asking questions. Examples: "What are you making?" "Is this fun? Sometimes when we have fun, we say, 'This is fun!' Can you say that?" (MMAE)
  • For ELLs: Invite students to use their home language during play exploration. This will make them more comfortable engaging the content, and it will facilitate transfer of language skills across languages. (MMAE)
  • As you prepare the "Play Today" poem, guide information processing by including images or physical actions to represent how talking can help children make play decisions. (MMR)
  • As you introduce play dough, provide graduated levels of support by modeling various ways students might manipulate this material. Examples: rolling into a ball, creating a coil. (MMAE)
  • As students are playing with play dough, vary fine motor demands and optimize challenge by differentiating degree of complexity. Example: Ask questions to encourage some students to add more intricate details while encouraging others to focus on simplifying shapes. (MME)

Closing & Assessments

ClosingMeeting Students' Needs

A. Reflecting on Learning (10 minutes)

  • Referring to the Conversation Partner chart, invite students to pair up with their predetermined talking buddy and sit facing one another. Make sure students know which partner is A and which is B.
  • Direct students' attention to the posted learning targets and reread the first one aloud:

"I can participate in conversations with my classmates."

  • Tell students that they are going to participate in conversation about their play using the Think-Pair-Share protocol.
  • Refer to the Think-Pair-Share anchor chart and remind students of the steps they learned for this protocol in Lesson 1:

1. Think about the question quietly in your own brain. Show a thumbs-up on your knee when you are ready to share.

2. Turn to a partner next to you and share your idea. Remember to listen to your partner's idea, too!

  • Invite a few students to share with the whole group.
  • Help students make connections to the Conversation Norms anchor chart. Example: "We should listen when we are having a conversation with others and talk about the question being asked."
  • Explain that students are going to Think-Pair-Share about this topic:

"Talk to your partner about how you played with the play dough."

  • Guide students through one round of Think-Pair-Share.
  • As students talk, circulate and listen in. Take note of the ideas students are sharing and target a few students to share out with the whole group.
  • Take note of how students are interacting with one another using the Speaking and Listening Checklist. Redirect students as needed using the Conversation Norms anchor chart.
  • Remind students to make a bridge with their arms after both partners have shared.
  • Gather students back together and invite a few to share with the whole group.
  • Explain that as students become experts in play, they are also learning a lot about how to take care of each other and the materials.
  • Conduct a second round of Think-Pair-Share to answer these questions:

"When you were playing today, how did you take care of others?""How did you take care of the materials?"

  • As students share, circulate and listen. Take note of the ideas students share, as these will be used to co-create the Ways We Take Care brainstorm chart in the Closing of Lesson 3.
  • Remind students to make a bridge with their arms after both partners have shared.
  • Gather them back together and invite a few students to share with the whole group.
  • Give students specific positive feedback on their hard work today. (Example: "You all worked hard to identify the characters in Llama Llama, and you also improved your conversations with your classmates.") Tell them that in the next lesson, they will play with another toy!
  • For ELLs: If it would help students remember partner designations, instead of using A and B, use commonly paired words like "peanut butter and jelly" or "chocolate and vanilla." (MMR)
  • For ELLs: As students talk, notice instances in which they omit using the articles a or the. Identify the error and recast the sentence correctly. Invite students to repeat. Example: "You put play dough back in the box. Now you say it!" (MMAE)
  • Before beginning the Think-Pair-Share protocol, activate background knowledge by inviting students to demonstrate what it looks like/sounds like to do each step. (MMR)
  • As students share with their partners, provide options for communication by prompting students who need support with sentence starters. Example: "One thing I made with play dough was ____. I made this because _______." (MMAE)

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