Fancy Dance

By Leslie Johnson
Illustrations by Kayeri Akweks


  • reading to learn information
  • following a longer story
  • sequencing events

Supportive Text Features:

  • familiar words and concepts
  • narrative sentence and text form
  • pictures support and enhance the story

High-frequency Words: this, is, he, going, to, the, a, it, and, his, looks, at, other, they, are, from, many, into, there, then, has

Getting Ready to Read

  1. Introduce the concept and vocabulary by asking open-ended questions:
    • What do people do when they are dancing?
    • What is a powwow? What do people do at a powwow?
    • Tell me what you know about Native American dances.
  2. Connect children’s past experiences with the book vocabulary:
    • Call children’s attention to the title. Read: “Fancy Dance.”
    • Tell children that the book is about a Native American boy performing a special dance. Have them predict what they might see happening in the book.
    • Show the back cover and read the copy. Ask children how they think Joe feels.
    • Have children suggest some words they might read in the story.
    • Give children the book and have them look at the pictures.
    • Ask them to tell what they see the people in the book doing.
  3. 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 say the beginning sound of an unknown word and read on, returning to the word after completing the sentence.
  4. Be aware of the following book and text features:
    • The book contains numerous high-frequency words.
    • The book is written in narrative form.
    • All the sentences are different; there are no text patterns.
    • There are different numbers of sentences on each page; some text requires a return sweep.
    • There are three compound words: powwow, backgrounds, beadwork.
    • Exclamation points are used to emphasize the action.
    • The pictures enhance the story, but most of it is told in the text.

Reading the Book

  1. Set a purpose by telling children to find out about the boy’s dance.

  2. Have children read the first few pages 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. When you hear them reading fluently, tell them to begin reading silently.

  3. Look for these reading behaviors during children’s first reading:
    • Do they use multiple sources of information?
    • Do they make predictions and confirm or revise them while reading?
    • Are they more able to monitor meaning and self correct?
    • Do they know a large number of sight words?
    • Do they use punctuation appropriately?
    • Do they read more automatically and with fluency?
    • Have they begun to draw conclusions and make inferences?
  4. As children read, suggest reading strategies if they are struggling: “Try saying the beginning of the word. Try looking at the picture for help.” Encourage children to take a guess or read past the unknown word.

  5. Possible teaching points to address based on your observations:
    • Review how to find a known part in an unknown word.
    • Show children how to use analogies to move from the known to the unknown when encountering new words.
    • Work with suffixes and prefixes.
    • Point out the compound words and explore how they are formed from two shorter words.
    • Review using grammar (syntax) to unlock words by considering the sentence structure or parts of speech in the sentence.
    • Explore the story grammar—characters, setting, problem, and so on.
    • Review how to determine what is important in a picture or sentence.
    • Model asking questions or making “I wonder . . .” statements to extend comprehension.
    • Review using punctuation marks to guide the meaning-making process. Point out the use of an apostrophe in the possessive form of Joe (Joe’s) and the many exclamation points.
    • Model how to revisit the text to find specific examples or ideas in the story.

After the First Reading

  1. Have children talk about the Fancy Dance Joe performed and confirm their predictions about what happened in the story.

  2. Discuss why the Fancy Dance has to be done just right.

  3. Review how Joe got ready to perform his dance.

  4. Brainstorm and generate questions to ask Joe about performing the dance.

  5. Compare how Joe got ready with how Tuti got ready in TUTI’S PLAY.

Second Reading

  1. Have children reread the book silently or to a partner.

  2. 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

Art: Have children make and decorate drums. Coffee cans and round oatmeal boxes make excellent drums. Larger drums can be made from gallon paint cans and popcorn canisters. Children can use their drums for the music and dance activities below.

Music/Math: Let children use their drums to beat out simple rhythmic patterns. Have one child beat a pattern and have the others repeat the pattern. Then encourage children to count-out their patterns. For example, three soft beats followed by one loud beat would be: 1–2–3–4! Let children take turns being the one to create the pattern.

Dance: Have some children beat their drums while others dance to the music. Children can make up their own dances or try to dance their own version of the Fancy Dance by following the description in the book. The Fancy Dance is said to have originated in Oklahoma in the early 1900's. It is based on the standard “double step” of the Traditional and Grass Dances, but it also includes fancy footwork, increased speed, acrobatic steps and motions, and varied body movements. The Fancy Dance is also a freestyle kind of dance, with dancers doing whatever it takes to keep up with the music.

Science: Have children use a magnifying glass or hand lens to examine some feathers. Generate a list of children’s observations. If a variety of feathers is available, have children sort the feathers based on their observations.

Social Studies: Explore some of the dances from different Native American nations. Children can learn about the occasions for the dances, the special clothing worn, whether it is primarily a men’s/boy’s dance or a woman’s/girl’s dance, and so on. The different dances studied can then be compared for their similarities and differences.

Social Studies: Have children learn about powwows. Then, if possible, arrange to take children to a local powwow. There are many listings on the Internet of state powwow schedules. The Native American Studies department of your local college or university is also a good source of information. Powwows are open to the public and children are welcome.

Writing: Have children go through the story page-by-page and write dialogue for the characters shown in the pictures. Once the dialogue is complete, children may wish to take the parts of the different characters and read their dialogue aloud.

Guided Reading with Fancy Dance: Una danza Nativoamericana

Guided Reading™: G        DRA: 12        Reading Recovery®: 11
16 pages, 151 words

The directions given for the introduction, first reading, and second reading of the English edition can be used with the Spanish edition of the book. To read the book successfully, children need the same kinds of support as their English-speaking classmates. Second language learners often benefit from acting out new words, seeing pictures, and talking about them using concrete examples.

The Spanish edition has many familiar words. The story is about a boy getting ready and performing a special Native American dance. Although the sentence constructions sound like speech, some of them may be unfamiliar to children. There are different numbers of sentences on each page, the text on several pages requires a return sweep, and exclamation points are used to emphasize the action.

The book language used may differ from children’s oral language. Comparing any differences will help children read and understand the story. Also help children understand that we often speak differently than we write, and that both ways of using language  are important.


About This Title

Guided Reading:




Interest Level:

Grades 1 - 2

Reading Level:

Grades 1 - 1


Five Senses / Body Parts, Weather/Seasons/Clothing, Sports, Native American Interest, Holidays/Traditions, Dance, Cultural Diversity, How To, Realistic Fiction


Emergent Dual Language, Emergent English, Teachers College Reading Assessment Kit for Grades K-2: Add-On Pack, Bebop English Guided Reading Level G, Bebop Native American English Grades PreK-2, Bebop Realistic Fiction Collection Grades PreK-2, Dual Language Levels D-I Collection, Native American Collection English 6PK, Reading Recovery Bebop Books collection, Teachers College Reading Assessment Kit for Grades K-2: Library, Native American and Indigenous Booklist , Bebop English Fiction

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