Big or Little?

By Fonda Bell Miller
Illustrations by Shadra Strickland

Focus: Concepts of Print

  • one-to-one matching
  • using the picture clues
  • reading a patterned sentence
  • return sweep when reading two lines of text

Supportive Text Features:

  • familiar words and concept
  • patterned sentence
  • strong picture-text match

High-frequency Words: a, is, I

Concept Words: big, little

Getting Ready to Read
Introduce the concept and vocabulary by asking open-ended questions:

  • Tell me some things that are big. Tell me some things that are little.
  • What do you see outside your home that is really big?
  • Tell me some things that are bigger than you. Tell me some things that are smaller than you.
  1. Connect children’s past experiences with the story and vocabulary:
    • Hold the book, calling children’s attention to the title. Read: “Big or Little?”
    • Ask them to predict what they would expect to see the girl looking at in the story.
    • Show the back cover and read the copy. Ask children what they think the girl will find out.
    • Have children predict some words they might read in the story.
    • Give children the book and have them look at the pictures.
    • Ask them to find out what big and little things the girl saw.
  2. 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 pictures and the beginning sound of the word.
  3. Be aware of the following book/text features:
    • The book contains familiar words: house, bus, truck, tree, and bug.
    • There is a pair of patterned sentences: “A house is big. I am little.”
    • The text is on the page facing the picture.
    • Only one word changes on each page.
    • There are two lines of text on each page. The second line does not change.
    • The last page of text is different and reverses the pattern: “A bug is little. I am big.”
    • There is no sentence on the last page, but the picture tells the story’s end.

Reading the Book
Set a purpose by telling children to read the book and find out what the girl saw when she went out to play.

  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 they 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 up to the picture 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 /h/ - /o/ - /u/ - /s/
      • /e/ 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?
  3. As children read, suggest a reading strategy if they are struggling: “Try looking at the picture to make sense of the print.” Encourage children to take a guess or use the beginning letter sound.

  4. Possible teaching points to address based on your observations:
    • Review using the picture to help with each new word.
    • Review using the beginning sound.
    • Model how to reread the sentence if it doesn’t sound right or make sense.
    • Call attention to all the high-frequency words children have learned and used.
    • Help children use their fingers to track the words and make the return sweep.
    • Call attention to the exclamation point on the last page.

After the First Reading
Play with the idea of things being big or little by comparing objects and deciding which is big and which is little. Show children two pictures and have them decide which is big and which is little.

  1. Brainstorm some things that could be bigger than a truck, a bus, or a tree.

  2. Generate a list of other big things the girl might have seen outside.

  3. Call children’s attention to the two sentences and talk about how we read from left to right and top to bottom.

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

  1. This is a time for assessment. While they are reading, watch what children 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
Language: Show children pictures of the same object in different sizes—for example, three pictures of trucks. Have them put the pictures in size order and then label them big, bigger, biggest. Do the same with some little objects. Use a set of nesting toys to illustrate how size is relative. Ask children to choose two of the nesting toys from the set and decide which one is bigger or smaller.

Art: Have children draw a big picture of something little and a little picture of something big. Encourage them to include something they consider funny.    

Science: Read THE LITTLEST DINOSAUR by Bernard Most, which describes real dinosaurs which were as small as a Teddy bear or that could lie on a sofa. Talk about how most people know about the big dinosaurs, but that there were dinosaurs in many sizes.

Math: Give children two numbers and have them decide which one is bigger. Make a game out of deciding which of two numbers, shapes, or groups is big or little?

Social Studies: Look at a map of the United States or use a puzzle map and find the big states and the little states. What are the names of the states in each category? Which states are bigger than yours and which are littler (smaller)?    

Writing: Have children write about something that they can do now that they could not do when they were little. As an alternative, have children write about something that they want to do when they are bigger that they cannot do now.

Guided Reading with ¿Grande o pequeño?

Guided Reading™: C        DRA: 3        Reading Recovery®: 4

The Spanish edition also uses a patterned sentence and familiar words: casa, árbol, insecto. The words autobús and camión may cause difficulty for children who speak dialects or who mix Spanish and English. 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 the concepts or words in the story, see the article “Guided Reading with Emergent Readers” for suggestions.

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About This Title

Guided Reading:




Interest Level:

Grades PreK - 1

Reading Level:

Grades PreK - K


Comparing/Classifying/Measuring, Nature/Science, Vehicles In Motion, Classroom Activities, Similarities and Differences, Environment/Nature, Childhood Experiences and Memories, African/African American Interest, Beginning Concepts, Identity/Self Esteem/Confidence


Bebop African American English Grades PreK-2, Early Emergent Dual Language, Early Emergent English , Bebop English Guided Reading Level B, Bebop Realistic Fiction Collection Grades PreK-2, Reading Partners ER Lee & Low Kit , Dual Language Levels A-C Collection, African American Collection English 6PK, Reading Recovery Bebop Books collection, Bebop English Fiction, PreK Instructional Interactions

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