Kama's Lei

By Robin Montgomery
Illustrations by Carla Golembe


  • reading possessive nouns
  • reading verbs with “-ed” endings
  • reading text with return sweep
  • sequencing events

Supportive Text Features:

  • familiar words and concepts
  • close picture-text match
  • consistent placement of text
  • adequate space around text

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

High-frequency Words: was, coming, to, a, for, her, looked, at, the, in, his, it, had, were, not, on, he, of, and, into, longer, now, him

Concept Words: color words (yellow, pink, white), lei

Getting Ready to Read

  1. Introduce the concept and vocabulary by asking open-ended questions:
    • What do people do to welcome people who come to visit them?
    • Do you know where Hawaii is? Tell me what you know about Hawaii.
    • How do you think you could make a necklace of flowers?
  2. Connect children’s past experiences with the book vocabulary:
    • Call children’s attention to the title. Read: “Kama’s Lei.” Talk about the meaning of the word “lei.”
    • Ask them to predict what might happen in the story.
    • Show the back cover and read the copy. Ask children what the boy might give his aunt for a welcome gift.
    • 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 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 say the beginning sound of an unknown word and read on, returning to the word after completing the sentence.
    • Suggest that children also look closely at the pictures. Then encourage them to choose a word that makes sense in the sentence.
  4. Be aware of the following book and text features:
    • The book contains numerous high-frequency words and many other familiar words, including color words.
    • The pictures strongly support the text.
    • Some phrases are repeated in the middle section of the book.
    • Several past tense verbs with “-ed” ending are used: smiled, wanted, looked, pulled, tied.
    • Three possessive nouns are used: Kama’s, Mrs. Lee’s, Mr. Silva’s.
    • All pages have more than one line of text, requiring a return sweep.

Reading the Book

  1. Set a purpose by telling children to read about how Kama makes a gift for his aunt.

  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:
    • Have they begun to cross-check, using a variety of strategies, and to self correct?
    • Do they rely less on pictures and more on print when reading?
    • Do they have a growing sight vocabulary?
    • Do they use beginning, middle, and ending sounds to read unknown words?
    • Are they monitoring meaning and rereading when they lose meaning?
    • Do they easily move from one line of text to the next when making a return sweep?
    • Have they started to use punctuation to gain meaning?
    • Do they make more accurate predictions?
    • Can they connect the text to past experiences?
  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. Suggest rereading the sentence so the context is used to unlock the 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.
    • 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 series commas used on page 11.
    • Call attention to the use of an apostrophe in the possessive form of names (Kama’s, Mrs. Lee’s, Mr. Silva’s).
    • Work with the “-ed” form of verbs.
    • Explore the sequence of events in the process of making a lei.
    • Model how to revisit the text to find specific examples or ideas in the story. Revisit KAMA’S LEI to review how Kama made his lei.

After the First Reading

  1. Have children confirm their predictions about what happened in the story.

  2. Elicit children’s ideas about what Kama might have done if he could not find enough flowers for a lei.

  3. Talk about why Mrs. Lee and Mr. Silva shared their flowers with Kama. What might they have said to Kama when they gave him their flowers?

  4. Discuss the Hawaiian tradition of welcoming visitors by presenting them with a lei. Connect the story to children’s experiences welcoming visitors in their own homes or in the homes of friends or relatives.

  5. Brainstorm with children what might happen after the end of the story.

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: Give children a variety of colored paper flowers or let them make their own flowers from colored paper or tissue paper. Let children string the flowers to make leis. Encourage them to make a pattern as Kama did in the story.

Music: Introduce children to Hawaiian music and dance. Explain that people in Hawaii often dance and sing to welcome visitors. Play some Hawaiian music and encourage children to move to the rhythm. A list of links to Hawaiian music Web sites can be found at:

Science: Display some pictures of plumeria flowers. (Plumerias, known as the lei flower, is native to warm tropical areas of the Pacific, especially Hawaii.) Have children notice the shape, size, and colors of the petals. Then compare the plumerias with real flowers or pictures of flowers that are common in your area. Help children chart the similarities and differences.

Math: Have children count the number of flowers they used for their leis in the art activity. Talk about why they did not all use the same number of flowers. If children used patterns when making their leis, ask them to explain their sequences.

Social Studies: Read LUKA’S QUILT by Georgia Guback. Talk about the similarities and differences between Hawaii, where Kama and Luka live, and where children in the class live.

Writing: Have children write a song for welcoming visitors to their classroom. This will be easier if they write lyrics to the tune of a favorite song.

Guided Reading with
El lei de kama

Guided Reading™: G        DRA: 12        Intervention: 11
16 pages, 144 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. In Spanish, possession is shown differently than in English. Call children’s attention to the title, EL LEI DE KAMA. Then turn to page 7 and read the phrases, “en el árbol de la señora Lee” and “en el árbol del señor Silva.” Help children understand that the trees belong to each person just as the lei belongs to Kama. Also point out the use of an exclamation mark at both the beginning and end of the sentences on pages 5 and 15. The marks appear “upside down” at the beginning of each sentence and “right side up” at the end.

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.

Phonics Supplement


About This Title

Guided Reading:




Interest Level:

Grades K - 2

Reading Level:

Grades 1 - 1


Colors, Nature/Science, Families, Environment/Nature, Cultural Diversity, Asian/Asian American Interest, Realistic Fiction, Pride


Emergent Dual Language, Emergent English, Bebop English Guided Reading Level G, Bebop Realistic Fiction Collection Grades PreK-2, Bebop Asian American English Grades PreK-2, Dual Language Levels D-I Collection, Asian American Collection English 6PK, Multicultural Collection 10, Multicultural Collection 12, Multicultural Collection 14, Multicultural Collection 11, Reading Recovery Bebop Books collection, Bebop English Fiction

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