Big Snowball Fight

By D. H. Figueredo
Illustrations by Hector Viveros Lee

Focus: Concepts of Print

  • one-to-one matching
  • using the picture clues
  • reading a patterned phrase

Supportive Text Features:

  • familiar words and concept
  • patterned phrase using number words
  • strong picture-text match

Concept Words: one, two, three, four, five, six

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

  • Tell me what children do when they play in the snow.
  • Tell me some things children do with snowballs.
  • Let’s count from one to ten.
  1. Connect children’s past experiences with the story and vocabulary:
    • Hold the book, calling children’s attention to the title. Read: “Big Snowball Fight.”
    • Ask them to predict what they would expect to see happening in the story.
    • Show the back cover and read the copy. Ask children what they think will happen when the friends play together.
    • Have children predict some words they might read in the story.
    • Give children the book and have them look at the pictures.
    • Ask them what the story is about.
  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 text features:
    • The book contains number words
    • The book contains familiar words: big, snowball, snowballs.
    • There is a patterned phrase: “one snowball.”
    • Only the number word changes on each page.
    • The phrase on the last page is different: “Big Snowball Fight!”

Reading the Book
Set a purpose by telling children to read the book to find out how many snowballs the children made and what they did with the snowballs.

  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 /o/ - /n/ - /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 count the snowballs.

  4. Possible teaching points to address based on your observations:
    • Review using the picture to help with each new number word.
    • Review using the beginning sound.
    • Model how to reread the phrase if it doesn’t sound right or make sense.
    • Call attention to the exclamation point on the last page.

After the First Reading
Have children confirm their predictions about the children’s snowball fight.

  1. Ask children to read the last line of the story the way children might say it.

  2. Discuss how you make snowballs and list the steps.

  3. Reflect on what happened in the story. Look at the last page and generate some words for each child to say during the snowball fight.

  4. Discuss the rules children might develop to make the snowball fight fair and fun.

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: Play with singular and plural nouns: one snowball, three snowballs; one cat, five cats; one child, six children; one mouse, two mice; and so on.

Art: Read EMMETT’S SNOWBALL by Ned Smith and the have children paint pictures of the “biggest” snowball in the world. Add details to the picture with markers or crayons. Who made the biggest snowball in the picture?

Science: If there is snow where you live, have children make snowballs and bring them inside to watch them melt. Record what happens over the course of an hour or the day.

Math: Practice counting objects. Show children cards with different objects. Count the objects and then choose the correct number word. Make a center activity in which children use rubber stamps to make one, two, three, four, five, six objects and then have them write the number and the number word under each set.

Social Studies: Discuss why schools have a “no snowball fight” rule. How might children convince the teachers and principal to allow snowball making and throwing?

Writing: Write a story about throwing snowballs or about a snowball fight.

Guided Reading with Gran pelea de bolas de nieve

Guided Reading™: A        DRA: 1        Reading Recovery®: 1

The Spanish edition also uses a patterned phrase and number words: uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis. Because many children speak dialects or may mix Spanish and English, you may have to help them 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, Weather/Seasons/Clothing, Counting Money/Everyday Math, Neighbors, Latino/Hispanic/Mexican Interest, Holidays/Traditions, Games/Toys, Friendship, Childhood Experiences and Memories, Collaboration


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