Carmen's Colors

By Maria Diaz Strom
Illustrations by Maria Diaz Strom

Focus: Concepts of Print

  • one-to-one matching
  • using the picture clues
  • reading the color words

Supportive Text Features

  • familiar words paired with colors
  • patterned phrase
  • strong picture/text match

Concept Words: orange, green, purple, blue, yellow, red, pink

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

  • Tell me the color words.
  • Tell me some things you might see sold at an outside market.
  • What colorful things might you see at a market or store?
  1. Connect children’s past experiences with the book vocabulary:
    • Hold the book, calling children’s attention to the title. Read: “Carmen’s Colors.”
    • Ask them to predict where they think Carmen is going.
    • Have children suggest some words they might read in the book.
    • Give children the book and have them look at the pictures.
    • Ask them what Carmen is looking at as she walks through the market.
  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:
    • Each page presents the color word in the phrase, the color in the border, and the color in an object in the picture.
    • The pictures contain familiar objects: flowers, plants, skirts, socks, corn, peppers.
    • There is a two-word phrase pattern: “orange flowers.”
    • Each page has a different color border and a new phrase.

Reading the Book
Set a purpose by telling children to read the book and find out what the girl looked at as she walked through the market.

  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 /s/ - /o/ - /c/ - /k/
      • /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?
  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.
    • Call attention to all the color words children have learned to read.

After the First Reading
Have children confirm their predictions.

  1. Reflect on how the sellers (vendors) in each booth react to Carmen.

  2. Discuss whether or not a booth would have items that were only one color.

  3. Select one page. Brainstorm other items that might be in an “orange” booth or what other colors the “flowers” might be. Raise children’s awareness that the booths in the book do not necessarily look exactly like a real market booth.

  4. Create a sentence or question for Carmen to ask each salesperson, and have children respond.

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 student as an assessment of the student’s reading behavior.

Cross-Curricular Activities
Music: Read the book TO MARKET, TO MARKET by Anne Miranda (Scholastic). Clap the rhythm of the story. Have children generate a song or tune to match the book.
Art: Have students draw a market booth they would like to run, using all the colors in the crayon box or just one color. Ask them what they would sell. Have them label the items with small signs.    

Math: Set up a booth with items for sale. Label each item with a price. Have children choose two items and add to find the total cost. As an alternative, give each child ten pennies and have them choose the items they will buy. Let them figure out how much they will have left.

Science: Give children red, yellow, and blue paint. Have them experiment to discover how many different colors they can make by mixing the three colors in different combinations.

Social Studies: Display pictures of markets in other countries. Ask: “What kinds of things do they sell? What kinds of things seem to be sold at all markets? What colors do you see at the markets?” Explore the cultural similarities and differences that are reflected in a common activity (shopping at a market).

Writing: Have children draw a picture using their favorite color. Then write about the picture.

Guided Reading with LOS COLORES DE CARMEN

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

The Spanish edition also contains the color words and a patterned phrase. In Spanish the color word (adjective) comes after the noun so the words with which children are most familiar will not be at the beginning of each line of text.

Because many children speak dialects or may mix Spanish and English, it will be important to clarify the objects sold in the market during the introduction. 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.


About This Title

Guided Reading:




Interest Level:

Grades PreK - K

Reading Level:

Grades PreK - K


Colors, Weather/Seasons/Clothing, Similarities and Differences, Sharing & Giving, Latino/Hispanic/Mexican Interest, Food, Families, Cultural Diversity, Childhood Experiences and Memories


Early Emergent Dual Language, Early Emergent English , Bebop English Guided Reading Level B, Bebop Latin American English Grades PreK-2, Bebop Realistic Fiction Collection Grades PreK-2, Dual Language Levels A-C Collection, Latin American Collection English 6PK, Reading Recovery Bebop Books collection, Bebop English Fiction, Infant Toddler Instructional Interactions

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