Counting Pumpkins

By Ellen B. Senisi
Illustrations by Ellen B. Senisi

Guided Reading: A
DRA: 1
Intervention: 1

Genre: Narrative Nonfiction/Counting
12 Pages
45 Words

Focus: Concepts of Print
* one-to-one matching * using the picture clues * reading a patterned sentence * noticing a change in 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 /c/, /p/; vowel pattern /ou/ * Vocabulary: count, pumpkin(s), again, love; numerals 1 through 5 * Language Mechanics: adding “s” to a noun * Fluency: reread the story independently or with a partner * Comprehension: determine what is important, make connections, ask questions

High-frequency Words: we, our

Getting Ready to Read
1. Introduce the concept and vocabulary by asking open-ended questions: * Where and when do you usually see pumpkins? * Tell me some things people might do with a pumpkin. * Let’s practice counting from 1 to 5. . . . Now count down from 5 to 1.

  1. Connect children’s past experiences with the story and vocabulary:
    • Hold the book, calling children’s attention to the title. Read: "Counting Pumpkins."
    • Ask children to predict what the story might be about.
    • Show the back cover and read the copy. Ask children what they think the surprise at the end might be.
    • 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 find out what the children are doing.
  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 words: count, pumpkin(s), again, love.
    • The text is below the photograph on each page.
    • There is a patterned sentence: “We count ___ pumpkin(s).”
    • Only one word changes on each page; that word is a numeral in the middle of the sentence.
    • The sentence on page 7 varies the pattern slightly with the addition of the word again.
    • The last sentence is different: “We love our pumpkin.”

Reading the Book
1. Set a purpose by telling children to read the book and find out how many pumpkins the children count.

  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 children look at the photographs 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 over to the photo 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
      /c/-/o/-/u/-/n/-/t/ 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 numeral.
    • Review using initial consonants and vowel pattern /ou/ 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.
    • Provide help with reading the two-syllable word.
    • Talk about how an “s” is sometimes added to the end of a word to show more than one (pumpkin/pumpkins).

After the First Reading
1. Have children confirm their predictions and talk about how many pumpkins the children count.

  1. Ask children what time of year (season) is shown in the photographs. What gives them clues to the season?

  2. Ask children to describe the pumpkins.

  3. Have children speculate about where the pumpkins come from as the children in the photos count up, and where the pumpkins go to when they count down.

  4. Talk about the photograph on the last page. What happened to the pumpkin? How do the children in the photo feel?

  5. Ask children what they think might happen next in the story.

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
Read aloud the book Pumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden by George Levenson, about the development of a pumpkin seed into a plant, pumpkin, jack-o’-lantern, and back to seed again. Ask children to make connections between this story and Counting Pumpkins. Also encourage children to talk about their own experiences with pumpkin seeds and pumpkins.

Copy the outline of a large pumpkin onto orange construction paper. Have children cut out the shape, then cut out a stem from brown or green paper and glue it onto their pumpkins. Have each child count out five pumpkin seeds; glue them onto her or his pumpkin; and, using a crayon or marker, number the seeds from 1 to 5. If pumpkin seeds are not available, children may just draw the seeds.

Pumpkin seeds may be planted indoors at any time of year. Instructions are available at the following Web site. The site also contains a recipe for easy-to-make pumpkin sauce:

Include a pumpkin when you do a “sink or float” activity with children.

To review number recognition, give each child a bag of pumpkin seeds and a set of ten flash cards with the numerals 1 through 10. Have children glue the matching number of seeds to each numeral card.

Have children practice counting up from 1 to 5 and down from 5 to 1. Then have them try counting up from 1 to 10 and down from 10 to 1.

Challenge children to count the total number of pumpkins shown in the story. If they wish, children may also include the front cover, back cover, and title page.

If pumpkins are in season, provide three or four of different sizes. Have children line them up in size order and then observe and note the following: How tall? How big around? Color. Weight. How many lines on the outside? Record and compare the results on a chart.

Use the five senses—sight, taste, touch, smell, hearing—to write a group description of a pumpkin: What does it look like? How does it feel? What kind of sound do you hear when you knock on it? and so on.

¡A contar calabazas!

Guided Reading: A
Intervention: 1

12 Pages
36 Words

The Spanish edition also uses a patterned sentence and familiar words: calabaza(s), contamos, otra vez, encanta. The sentence on the last page uses the second person singular imperative of the verb encantar. This may not match the oral language used by children. 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>

Phonics Supplement


About This Title

Guided Reading:




Interest Level:

Grades PreK - K

Reading Level:

Grades PreK - K


Photographic Illustrations, Animal/Biodiversity/Plant Adaptations, Nonfiction, Counting Money/Everyday Math, Multiethnic interest, Friendship, Food, Environment/Nature, Beginning Concepts, Comparing/Classifying/Measuring, Exploring Ecosystems, Farming, 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, Diverse Backgrounds Collection English 6PK, Reading Recovery Bebop Books collection, Lexile Bebop Books Decoding Collection, Bebop English Nonfiction, Infant Toddler Instructional Interactions

Want to know more about us or have specific questions regarding our Teacher's Guides?

Please write us!


Phonics Supplement

Terms of Use