In the Mountains

By Mary Cappellini
Illustrations by Cheryl Nathan


  • connecting personal experiences with a story
  • using prepositional phrases
  • reading sentences that end with rhyming words

Supportive Text Features:

  • familiar words and concepts
  • repetitive, patterned sentences
  • close picture-text match

Essential Components of Reading Instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, fluency, comprehension strategies

High-frequency Words: I, an, a, at, in, on, up, the, by, look, my, way, and, not to

Concept Words: animal names (owl, deer, chipmunk, squirrel, fish, eagle, raccoon, lizard, bear)

Getting Ready to Read

  1. Introduce the concept and vocabulary by asking open-ended questions:
    • What are some animals that live in the mountains?
    • Where might you see these animals hiding or walking or sleeping in the mountains?
    • Where would you look if the mountain animals were playing hide-and-seek with you?
  2. Connect children’s past experiences with the book vocabulary:
    • Call children’s attention to the title. Read: “In the Mountains.”
    • Ask them to predict what they expect to see happen in the story.
    • Show the back cover and read the copy. Ask children what they think the girl and her mother might see in the mountains.
    • Have children suggest some words they might read in the story.
    • Give children the book and have them look at the pictures. Ask children to tell what happens as they turn each page.
  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 picture for help in figuring out the word and to say the beginning sound.
  4. Be aware of the following book and text features:
    • The book contains many high-frequency words as well as several familiar words.
    • Familiar animal names are used: owl, deer, chipmunk, squirrel, fish, eagle, raccoon, lizard, bear.
    • There is a patterned sentence.
    • The last two sentences do not follow the pattern.
    • Many sentences end with a phrase beginning with one of these prepositions: inside, at, in, on, by.
    • The sentences on each two facing pages end with rhyming words: tree-me, hole-pole, high-sky, past-fast, way-stay.
    • Ellipses are used to designate a pause in the text.

Reading the Book

  1. Set a purpose by telling children to find out about the animals the girl and her mother see.

  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 children’s first reading:
    • Do they identify more words by sight?
    • Do they rely on the print and not just the pictures when reading?
    • Do they read with increased confidence?
    • Are they self-correcting to get meaning from the story?
    • Have they begun to cross-check by using language patterns and letter sounds?
    • Do they reread to check accuracy and meaning?
    • Are they using chunks of words rather than individual letters when sounding out?
    • Do they expect to get meaning from the text?
    • Do they make connections between the story and previous experiences?
    • Are they asking questions about the story?
  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:
    • Call attention to all the high-frequency words children have used.
    • 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: “snake” looks like “make.”
    • 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.
    • Point out the phrases that tell “where” and the preposition that begins each phrase.
    • Review rhyming words as words that end with the same sound(s). Call attention to the rhyming words in each pair of sentences.
    • Review using punctuation marks to guide the meaning-making process. Point out the use of use of an ellipsis on page 11.
    • Model how to revisit the text to find specific examples or ideas in the story.

After the First Reading

  1. Have children compare their predictions with what happened in the story.

  2. Discuss where they found each animal. Generate some ideas about why the animals were in those locations. Consider which animals could be moved to a different area in the mountains and which could not.

  3. Focus children’s attention on where the girl and her mother are in each picture and talk about what they had to do in order to see so many different animals. Encourage children to use prepositions during the discussion.

  4. Explore the gentle tone of this book and how the people do not disturb the animals.

  5. Brainstorm ideas about where children might go for a walk to see some animals near the school or their homes.

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

Art: Find some photographs of mountainous areas. Have children examine them carefully. Then make a list of common things seen in all the pictures. Have children use colored pencils, crayons, or markers to draw their own mountain scenes.
As an alternative, have children choose a mountainous area shown in IN THE MOUNTAINS and then look for photographs in other books and magazines that have similar features.

Music: Teach children the song “The Happy Wanderer.”
I love to go a-wandering
Along the mountain track
And as I go, I love to sing
My knapsack on my back
Val-der-ri, val-der-ra
Val-der-ri, val-der-ra ra ra ra ra ra
Val-der-ri, val-der-ra
My knapsack on my back
Once children have learned the basic tune and words, innovate on the verse to describe the animals the girl and her mother encountered in the book. (The complete song lyrics can be found at:

Science: Display pictures of a couple of animals that live on very high mountains and a couple of animals typically found in forests but not in the mountains. Ask children to study the pictures and look for characteristics that help the animals live in their mountain habitats. Then make a list of characteristics of mountain animals that make them unique. For example, many mountain animals have hooves instead of paws.

Math: Talk with children about some of the mountains in your state or a nearby state, and introduce the concept of relative height. (You may wish to use blocks to help children understand this concept.) Tell children the height of the mountains (to the nearest hundred or thousand feet) and the height of a typical classroom (usually 10–14 feet). Then help children figure out how many classrooms need to be stacked one on top of the other to reach the height of the mountains.
According to geographers, a land mass must be over 3000 feet tall to be considered a mountain, so a 3000-foot mountain would be equivalent to a stack of approximately 300 classrooms.

Social Studies: Use a relief map or a geographic map to locate some of the world’s highest mountains. Talk about the colors mapmakers use to help people know the height of the land. Let children draw their own relief maps of a nearby, or favorite, mountain.

Writing: Write the pairs of rhyming words from the book on chart paper or the chalkboard. Have children brainstorm additional rhyming words for each pair and then make up their own sentences using some of the new rhyming words. Children may write about animals in the mountains or any other topics that interest them.

En las montaÑas

Guided Reading™: E        DRA: 6        Intervention: 7
12 pages, 65 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 patterned sentences, rhyming words, and many familiar words, although some of the animal names may be unfamiliar. The use of the pictures as clues to word meaning and discussion will support children in their reading. The verb conjugations and sentence grammar may not be familiar to all children.

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.

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About This Title

Guided Reading:




Interest Level:

Grades K - 2

Reading Level:

Grades 1 - 1


Animal/Biodiversity/Plant Adaptations, Nature/Science, Five Senses / Body Parts, Latino/Hispanic/Mexican Interest, Families, Environment/Nature, Childhood Experiences and Memories, Exploring Ecosystems, Realistic Fiction


Emergent Dual Language, Emergent English, Teachers College Reading Assessment Kit for Grades K-2: Add-On Pack, Bebop English Guided Reading Level E, Bebop Latin American English Grades PreK-2, Bebop Realistic Fiction Collection Grades PreK-2, Dual Language Levels D-I Collection, Latin American Collection English 6PK, Multicultural Collection 10, Multicultural Collection 11, Reading Recovery Bebop Books collection, Teachers College Reading Assessment Kit for Grades K-2: Library, Bebop English Fiction

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