Big Cats, Little Cats

By Bernette Ford
Illustrations by

Focus: Concepts of Print
* one-to-one matching * using the picture clues * reading a patterned sentence * noticing a change at the end of a patterned sentence

Supportive Text Features
* familiar words and concept * patterned sentence * strong picture/text match

Essential Components of Reading Instruction:
* Phonemic Awareness: concept of word * Phonics: initial /r/, /j/, /h/; initial consonant blends /cl/, /sl/; long /e/ vowel sound spelled “ee” * Vocabulary: cat, runs, climbs, jumps, hides, sleeps * Fluency: reread the story independently or with a partner * Comprehension: determine what is important, make connections, ask questions

High-frequency Words: big, little, this, too

Getting Ready to Read
1. Introduce the concept and vocabulary by asking open-ended questions: * Tell me about cats you have seen. Where did you see these cats? * What kinds of things do cats like to do? * Tell me what you know about other kinds of cats. Where might you find these other cats?

  1. Connect children’s past experiences with the story and vocabulary:
    • Hold the book, calling children’s attention to the title. Read: "Big Cats, Little Cats"
    • Ask children to predict what types of things big cats and little cats might do.
    • Show the back cover and read the copy. Ask children how they think big wild cats and little tame cats are alike.
    • Have children predict some words they might read in the story.
    • Give children the book and have them look at the photographs.
    • Ask them to notice the similarities between the cats on facing pages.
  1. Remind children of the strategies they know and can use with unfamiliar words:
    • Ask them, "What will you do if you come to a word you don’t know?"
    • Encourage children to look at the photographs and the beginning sound of the word.
  1. Be aware of the following book/text features:
    • The book contains familiar verbs: runs, climbs, jumps, hides, sleeps.
    • The text is above the photograph on each page.
    • There are two alternating patterned sentences: “This cat ___.” “This cat ___ too.”
    • Only one word changes on each two facing pages.
    • The last page is a visual chart that gives the name of each big cat shown, including those on the front cover and back cover.

Reading the Book
1. Set a purpose by telling children to read the book and find out how different types of cats are alike.

  1. Have children read quietly but out loud. Each child should be reading at his or her own pace. Children should not read in chorus. Listen to children as they read by leaning close or bending down beside each child.

  2. Look for these reading behaviors during the first reading:

    • Do the words children say match the printed words in the book? (voice-to-print match)
    • Do they look at the pictures before they read the text or after they read?
    • What do they do if they encounter an unfamiliar word? (appeal to you, try a strategy)
    • Do their eyes go down to the photos before reading the new word in the pattern?
    • Are they saying the initial sounds of words before saying the whole word?
    • Are they saying the individual letter sounds
      /r/ - /u/ - /n/ - /s/ or blending the sounds?
    • Do they reread if they come to an unfamiliar or unknown word?
    • Have they self-corrected any mistakes?
    • Is there any inflection or speech-like sound to their reading?
    • Have they responded with a laugh or other sound as they read the text?
    • Do they make comments as they read?
  1. As children read, suggest a reading strategy if they are struggling: "Try looking at the photograph to make sense of the print." Encourage children to take a guess or use the beginning letter sound.

  2. Possible teaching points to address based on your observations:

    • Review using the photograph to help with each new word.
    • Review using initial consonants and blends, and the long /e/ vowel sound to read new words.
    • Model how to reread the sentence if it does not sound right or make sense.
    • Call attention to all the high-frequency words children have learned and used.
    • Call attention to the question mark used in the title.
    • Talk about how an “s” is added at the end of an action word when it refers to only one animal or person.
    • Talk about the similarities and differences between the sets of photos.

After the First Reading
1. Have children confirm their predictions and talk about how different types of cats are alike.

  1. Discuss the kinds of things cats of all sizes can do.

  2. Focus children’s attention on the photographs of the wild cats and discuss their habitats.

  3. Look at the photographs on each two facing pages and discuss why cats might engage in the activity shown.

  4. Talk about how the chart on the last page provides the reader with additional information.

Second Reading
1. Have children reread the book in a whisper voice or to a partner.

  1. This is a time for assessment. While children are reading, watch what they do and what they use from the teaching time. Alternatively, you might take a running record on one child as an assessment of the child’s reading behavior.

Cross-Curricular Activities
Have children generate a list of other things cats might do. Allow children to be imaginative and come up with some actions that might really be possible and some that might not. Record the actions on the chalkboard or chart paper. Then discuss each in terms of whether or not cats could really do it.

Give children a set of cards with pictures of different cats (wild and/or domestic) engaged in a variety of actions. Ask children to sort the cards in an open-sort activity, without giving any directions. When they are finished, ask children to explain why they grouped the cats as they did. Then have children sort the pictures in a different way and talk about the new grouping.

Have children sort the pictures of cats by actions. Make a list of adverbs and/or phrases to describe the action shown in each picture. For example, an image of a cat running might be described as running fast or up a tree.

Have children look around the classroom to find pairs of big and little objects, such as big and little blocks, pieces of chalk, crayons, and so on. Have children sort these into all big objects and all little objects. Then you might talk about relative bigness among the group of big objects and relative smallness among the group of little objects.

Look up some information about the habitats of the wild cats named on the last page of the book. Then introduce the term “habitat,” discuss with children what it means, and talk about the differences and similarities among the habitats of the wild cats in the book. Children may also enjoy drawing a picture of a wild cat in its natural habitat.

Children may make a lion using paper plates; orange, yellow, brown, and red yarn cut into 2- to 3-inch pieces; yellow cotton balls; markers; crayons; glue; safety scissors; and construction paper. Give each child a paper plate for the lion’s head. Yellow cotton balls or colored yarn may be glued around the edge of the paper plate for the lion’s mane. Have children draw and color the face of the lion. Ears may be cut from construction paper and glued to the top of the paper plate.

Have children write about their favorite cats. Tell where the cat lives, what it likes to do, its favorite food, and so on.

Have children play Simon Says using the vocabulary words from the story: run, climb, jump, hide, sleep. (For some actions, such as sleep, children should just pretend to do them.) Add other actions as well.

Gatos grandes, gatos pequeños Big Cats, Little Cats in

Gatos grandes, gatos pequeños

Guided Reading: A
Intervention: 1

The Spanish edition also uses two patterned sentences and familiar words: grandes, pequeños, gato, corre, también, trepa, salta, se esconde, duerme. Because many children speak dialects or may mix Spanish and English, you may need to help children understand that “book language” does not always match the words we use every day.

The book introduction and guided reading lesson follow the outline for the English edition. Children need exactly the same support and strategy instruction as their English-speaking classmates.

If children have difficulty with concepts or words in the story, see the article "Guided Reading with Emergent Readers" for suggestions.

Guided reading levels were assigned by certified Reading Recovery® teachers and literacy experts using the guidelines identified in Guided Reading and Matching Books to Readers by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell (Heinemann).

Intervention levels were assigned by certified Reading Recovery® teachers and literacy experts and are intended for use in early intervention and one-on-one tutorial programs, including Reading Recovery® programs. These levels were not officially authorized by Reading Recovery®. Reading Recovery® is a registered servicemark of The Ohio State University.

DRA (Developmental Reading Assessment)/EDL (Evaluación del desarrollo de la lectura) levels were determined using information in the Developmental Reading Assessment Resource Guide and EDL Resource Guide by Joetta Beaver (Celebration Press).

All level placements may vary and are subject to revision. Teachers may adjust the assigned levels in accordance with their own evaluations.

Copyright © 2011 by Bebop Books®, an imprint of Lee & Low Books Inc. Used with permission. </small>

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About This Title

Guided Reading:




Interest Level:

Grades PreK - 1

Reading Level:

Grades PreK - K


Comparing/Classifying/Measuring, Photographic Illustrations, Animal/Biodiversity/Plant Adaptations, Nature/Science, Nonfiction, Similarities and Differences, Environment/Nature, Beginning Concepts, Animals, Exploring Ecosystems, Informational Text


Early Emergent Dual Language, Early Emergent English , English Informational Text Grades PreK-2, Bebop English Guided Reading Level A, Bebop Nonfiction Grades PreK-2, Dual Language Levels A-C Collection, Reading Recovery Bebop Books collection, Bebop English Nonfiction, Infant Toddler Instructional Interactions

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