Flora's Box

By Tina Athaide
Illustrations by Priscilla Burris

Focus: Concepts of Print and Reading Strategies

  • one-to-one matching
  • using the picture clues
  • reading a patterned sentence
  • noticing changes in the middle of a patterned sentence
  • using prepositions correctly

Supportive Text Features

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

Essential Components of Reading Instruction:
Phonemic Awareness: word sense
Phonics: consonant blend /fl/; short /o/ vowel sound; /-ox/ ending

Vocabulary: prepositions: behind, in, under, next to, on
Fluency: reread the story independently or with a partner
Comprehension: deterine what is important, make connections, ask questions

High-frequency Words: here, is, a, the, in, to, on

National Standards
Social Studies: Identity and Self-Esteem
Language Arts: Fiction
Science: People in Motion
Math: Comparing/Classifying/Measuring

ELL/ESL: La caja de Flor

Getting Ready to Read
1. Introduce the concept and vocabulary through by asking open-ended questions: * Tell me some things you could use a box for when you are playing. * What have you seen people do with boxes? * Play "Simon Says" to help children experience the prepositions they will read in the story.

  1. Connect children’s past experiences with the book vocabulary:
    • Hold the book, calling children's attention to the title. Read: "Flora's Box."
    • Ask them to predict what the girl on the cover is thinking.
    • Show the back cover and read the copy. Ask children what Flora might do with her box.
    • 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 to find out what happens to the box.
  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 pictures and the beginning sound of the word.
  1. Be aware of the following text features:
    • The book contains familiar words: box, behind, under, next, bye.
    • The prepositions in the text are explained by the pictures that indicate where Flora is in relation to the box.
    • There is a patterned sentence: "Flora is ____ the box."
    • Only one word changes on each page; that word is in the middle of the sentence. The exception is p. 6, where two words change.
    • The first and last sentences do not follow the pattern: "Here is a box." "Bye bye box!"

Reading the Book
1. Set a purpose by telling children to read the book to find out what Flora does with her box.

  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 the children 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 (/n/ - /e/ - /x/ - /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 picture 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 picture to help with each new number 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.
    • Talk about prepositions/prepositional phrases and how they tell the position of things relative to each other.
    • Call attention to the exclamation point on the last page.

After the First Reading
1. Have children confirm their predictions about how Flora used her box.

  1. Challenge children to use prepositions to make up additional sentences about each picture. For example, for page 3 children could say, "The box is in front of Flora."

  2. Have children think about how Flora feels or what she is imagining as she plays with her box. Have them finish this sentence for each page: "When Flora is behind (in, under, next to, on) the box, she ___." Encourage children to consider Flora's expression as they complete the sentence.

  3. Look at page 8. Discuss what happened to the box and why that happened.

  4. Model how the last sentence should be read differently because of the exclamation point.

  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 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
Play "Simon Says" again. Have children take turns giving a direction. Once the others have followed the direction, ask them to tell you the "position" word. Make a list of these words and add them to a word wall or post them on a chart.

Give each child a small, plain paper box and paper figure cutout. (You can cut out a pattern for a box using a die cut machine. The pattern then folds up to make a three-dimensional box.) Let children decorate their boxes and figures, then paste their figures in a position relative to their boxes. Have each child write a sentence about her or his box and figure using the patterned sentence from Flora's Box as a model.

Display a Jack-in-the-Box, then turn the crank and have children listen to the music. Watch children’s reactions when the Jack pops up. If children do not already know it, teach them the song "Pop Goes the Weasel!" (lyrics and music can be found at KIDiddles). Then have children sing along with the Jack-in-the-Box and pop up or clap when the Jack comes out of the box.

Give children a variety of boxes in different shapes and sizes. Ask them to order the boxes in different ways: smallest to largest, shortest to tallest, and so on, and then describe how each collection is organized.

Social Studies/Art:
Show children a picture of a freight train with many boxcars. Tell them that boxcars are used to ship all kinds of large and small items across the country. Talk about some of the things that are shipped in the boxcars of freight trains.

Let children create their own freight train. Help them make a list of what is being transported in each boxcar and where it is being taken. Then give each child a rectangular piece of paper to make into a boxcar. Children can decorate their cars, paste wheels along the bottom, and label them with pictures of what is inside (items to be chosen from children’s list). Tape the boxcars end-to-end around the classroom. Someone will have to draw an engine too!

Have children write about something special they keep or have received in a box.

La caja de Flor

Guided Reading: A
DRA: 1
Intervention: 1

The Spanish edition also uses a patterned sentence. In Spanish prepositions are expressed with two or more words. Children may be familiar with the words but not the concepts. A game like “"Simon Says" will help them put the words and positions together.

Many children speak dialects or may 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 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 - K

Reading Level:

Grades PreK - K


Comparing/Classifying/Measuring, Five Senses / Body Parts, Classroom Activities, Similarities and Differences, Multiethnic interest, Latino/Hispanic/Mexican Interest, Imagination, Games/Toys, Dreams & Aspirations, Childhood Experiences and Memories, Art, Realistic Fiction


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