I Make Clay Pots

By Leslie Johnson
Illustrations by Bryn Barnard

Focus: Concepts of Print

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

Supportive Text Features:

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

High-frequency Words: is, the, I, now, it, a

Getting Ready to Read

  1. Introduce the concept and vocabulary by asking open-ended questions:
    • Tell me what you can do with clay.
    • Tell me how you would make a pot with modeling clay.
    • What would a pot maker do with clay?
  2. Connect children’s past experiences with the story and vocabulary:
    • Hold the book, calling children’s attention to the title. Read: “I Make Clay Pots.”
    • 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 the girl’s grandmother show her.
    • 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 pictures tell about the story.
  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 look at the pictures and the beginning sound of the word.
  4. Be aware of the following text features:
    • The book contains familiar words: here, clay, roll, shape, smooth, paint, bake, pot.
    • There is a patterned sentence: “I roll the clay.”
    • Only the verb changes on each page.
    • The first and last sentences are different: “Here is the clay.” and “Now it is a pot.”

Reading the Book

  1. Set a purpose by telling children to read and find out how to make a pot.

  2. 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.

  3. 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 /c/ - /l/ - /a/ - /y/ 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?
  4. 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 after looking at the pictures.

  5. Possible teaching points to address based on your observations:
    • Review using the picture, prior knowledge, beginning sound of a word, and length of a word to help children figure out each new word.
    • Model how to make good guesses. What word begins with /r/ and goes with a story about working with clay?
    • Discuss how the book has a definite beginning and end. The clay becomes a pot because of the actions of the pot maker.

After the First Reading

  1. Retell the story, paying attention to the correct sequence of actions.

  2. Make connections between the story and things children have experienced with grandparents.

  3. Add an adverb to each sentence, indicating how each action is done. For example, “I roll the clay.” might become “I roll the clay quickly.”

  4. Brainstorm some other objects that could be made with clay.

Second Reading

  1. Have children reread the book in a whisper voice 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

Language: Have children innovate on the song “Row, row, row your boat” by turning it into “Roll, roll, roll your clay.” Have children generate other verses using the verbs from the story as well as other verb of their own choosing.

Art: Give children clay to roll, smooth, and shape. After they finish, have children describe what they did to make their objects.

Science: Use a play dough recipe to create “clay.” Have children follow the directions and note the changes as the dough is made. Record children’s observations.

Math: Use modeling clay to make rolls of different lengths. Estimate how tall a pot will be if the rolls are coiled and wound around a four-inch circle of cardboard. Look at the picture on page 4 for a model to make a coiled pot.

Social Studies: Read THE POT THAT JUAN BUILT by Nancy Andrews-Goebel (about Mexican potter Juan Quezada) as well as stories about pottery makers from the southwestern United States. What do these people make? How/where do they get the clay? Why do people like their work?

Writing: Write about making something out of clay.

Hago cerámica

Guided Reading™: C        DRA: 3    Reading Recovery®: 4

The Spanish edition also uses a patterned sentence and familiar words: aquí, arcilla, enrollo, doy forma, aliso, pinto, horneo, ahora. Because many children speak dialects or may mix Spanish and English they may use other words or variations for verbs. 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 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 K - 1


Nonfiction, Native American Interest, Families, Cultural Diversity, Childhood Experiences and Memories, Beginning Concepts, Art, How To, Pride, Collaboration, Grandparents, Home, Identity/Self Esteem/Confidence


Emergent Dual Language, Emergent English, Bebop How-to Grades PreK-2, Bebop English Guided Reading Level D, Bebop Native American English Grades PreK-2, Bebop Nonfiction Grades PreK-2, Dual Language Levels D-I Collection, Native American Collection English 6PK, Reading Recovery Bebop Books collection, Native American and Indigenous Booklist , Bebop English Nonfiction

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