Leo and the Butterflies

By Jan Reynolds
Illustrations by Jan Reynolds


  • understanding the author’s message
  • connecting personal experiences with a story
  • using a map and glossary
  • reading labeled diagrams and nonfiction information
  • drawing conclusions and making inferences

Supportive Text Features:

  • familiar words and concepts
  • narrative sentence and text form
  • variety of sentence structures

Essential Components of Reading Instruction:

Phonics: silent consonants
Vocabulary: landscape, rainforest(s), country, insects, butterfly(ies), hundreds, nectar, caterpillars, host, hungry, cocoon, pupa, museums; compound words
Fluency: reread the story independently or with a partner
Comprehension: determine what is important, make connections, ask questions

High-frequency Words: my, is, and, I, in, it, a, and, the, we, have, many, like, to, of, are, look, for, when, go, see, at, make, this, from, their, on, these, call(ed), will, be, that, them, how, been, two, come, out, as, an, then, can

Getting Ready to Read

  1. Introduce the concept and vocabulary by asking open-ended questions:
    • What kinds of things might you find in a garden?
    • Tell me what you know about butterflies. Where might you see lots of butterflies?
    • What do you think a rainforest is? Tell me what you know about rainforests.
  2. Connect children’s past experiences with the story:
    • Call children’s attention to the title. Read: “Leo and the Butterflies.”
    • Ask children to use the title and photograph on the cover to predict what they would expect to read about in the story.
    • Show the back cover and read the copy. Ask children to think about what Leo might teach them about butterflies.
    • Have children suggest some words they might read in the book.
    • Give children the book and have them look through it. Ask them to find some hints about what happens in the story. Make sure they notice the map diagrams, and labels.
    • Call children’s attention the last three pages of the book. Point out the information about rainforests and the glossary with definitions and word pronunciations.
  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 use known sound chunks to decode unknown words, and to read on, returning to the word after completing the sentence.
    • Tell children also to think about what they know about butterflies and gardens. 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.
    • The story is written in narrative form.
    • The amount of text on each page and placement of text varies throughout the book.
    • The story events are real.
    • The photographs support the text, but most of the information is contained in the text.
    • The book contains several features of nonfiction, including a map, labels, a diagram, background information, and a glossary.

Reading the Book

  1. Set a purpose by telling children to read about Leo and what he knows about butterflies.

  2. Have children read the story silently. Each child should be reading at his or her own pace. After the group has read a few pages, check for understanding with simple comments such as: “What is the story about?” or “Tell me how the story begins.” Also remind children to use the glossary. Then direct them to continue reading. As they read, watch for indications of comprehension: changes in facial expressions, giggles, audible comments, rereading, turning back to a page.

  3. Look for these reading behaviors during children’s first reading:
    • Do they have a strong sight vocabulary?
    • Do they use known sound chunks to read unknown words?
    • Are they showing signs of understanding the story?
    • Are they monitoring meaning and rereading when they lose meaning?
    • Do they easily move from page to page? Are they reading fluently?
    • Are they using punctuation, labels, and the glossary to gain meaning?
    • Do they make accurate predictions?
    • Are they connecting the text to their own experiences?
    • Do they react to the text even though they are reading silently? Do they laugh? smile? frown?
  4. As children read, note what they are doing. Help them build independence by being available, but not intervening too quickly. Watch for changes in children’s facial expressions and use these as signals to ask questions such as: “What made you smile?” or “Do you need some help?” Also encourage children’s attempts by making comments such as: “I like how you are reading,” or “That was a good strategy.”

  5. Possible teaching points to address based on your observations:
    • Review how to find a known part or sound chunk in an unknown word.
    • Show children how to use analogies to move from the known to the unknown when encountering new words.
    • Review using grammar (syntax) to unlock words by considering the sentence structure or parts of speech in the sentence.
    • Model asking questions or making “I wonder . . .” statements to extend comprehension.
    • Review how to determine what is most important in a story. Point out that there are many facts about butterflies in the story.
    • Review how to use the map, labels, diagram, and background information on page 22 to gain extra meaning from the story.
    • Determine whether or not children used the glossary as an aid to word meaning and pronunciation.
    • Review using punctuation marks to guide the meaning-making process.
    • Review the word from the story with silent consonants: know. Explore other familiar words that contain silent consonants, such as write, high, talk, eight.
    • Point out some of the compound words in the story: rainforest, butterfly, inside, nearby, everywhere. Review how compound words are formed and point out that the meaning of the compound word is sometimes different from the combined meanings of the smaller words.
    • Model how to revisit the text to find specific examples or ideas in the story. Revisit LEO AND THE BUTTERFLIES to review the growth stages of a butterfly.

After the First Reading

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

  2. Connect the story to children’s experiences with gardens, butterflies, and/or bugs and insects.

  3. Encourage children to recall and list the facts they leaned about rainforests and butterflies.

  4. Call children’s attention to words in the story that indicate time and sequence: after, until, during, then. Have them brainstorm other words that indicate time or order. For example: next, first, finally.

  5. Elicit children’s ideas about rainforest butterflies being shipped around the world. Do they think this is a good idea? Why or why not?

  6. Compare the setting in LEO AND THE BUTTERFLIES with the setting in LIVING IN AN IGLOO.

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: Show children some photographs of different butterflies. Call their attention to the colors and designs. Also explain the symmetry. Give children a butterfly shape and pastels or colored chalks. Have them decorate one side of the butterfly, then fold it in half with the chalk side in. Rub the folded butterfly firmly and then open it. The chalk will have left a residue on the uncolored side. Children can then finish coloring their butterflies using the chalk marks as a guide.

Music: Attach a short string to each child’s butterfly. Play some classical music and have children move their butterflies in time with the music. Play selections from pieces with different tempos and ask children to decide which music best matches a butterfly’s movement.

Science: Invite a butterfly expert/collector to visit and speak to children about collecting butterflies. Prepare children for the visit by helping them generate questions to ask the visitor. If possible, let children examine a mounted butterfly with a hand lens or magnifying glass so they can see the details.

Have children look through LEO AND THE BUTTERFLIES for a topic about which they would like to learn more, such as rainforests, butterflies, butterfly gardens, host plants, cocoons, and so on. Help children research their topic and prepare a chart or bulletin board display showing the information they discovered.

Math: Investigate or review symmetry. Take children on a walk around the school or outside and ask them to find examples of symmetry. If possible, use a digital or disposable camera to take pictures of some of the things children find. Let children use the printed pictures to illustrate a chart explaining symmetry.

Social Studies: Display a map of North and South America. Locate Costa Rica. Then find the part of the United States where children live. (You may also wish to use the map scale to figure out the approximate distance between the two places.) Help children research life in Costa Rica and then compare life there to their own lives.

Writing: Have children look through the book for words to add to the glossary. Discuss what each word means (children may also use a dictionary), and then let children write their own definitions.

Guided Reading with

Guided Reading™: J        EDL/DRA: 18        Intervention: 18
24 pages, 380 words, plus Informational Note and Glossary

Level J is the benchmark for the beginning of the second grade. Children at this level are becoming fluent readers. All of 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. The focus of the teacher’s support should be on building confidence, fluency, and comprehension. This is a time for growing independence. 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 written in narrative style. If children do not know some of the words, present them with synonyms to help deepen their comprehension of the new words and the story. You may also use real objects to support their learning of new vocabulary.

The people of Costa Rica speak Spanish. Reading and learning are highly valued and the people want everyone to read and write. Share this information with children to support feelings of pride in being part of the Spanish-speaking world.

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 PreK - 3

Reading Level:

Grades 2 - 2


Comparing/Classifying/Measuring, Photographic Illustrations, Animal/Biodiversity/Plant Adaptations, Nature/Science, Nonfiction, Counting Money/Everyday Math, Similarities and Differences, Responsibility, Latino/Hispanic/Mexican Interest, Environment/Nature, Cultural Diversity, Childhood Experiences and Memories, Animals, Exploring Ecosystems, Human Impact On Environment/Environmental Sustainability , Informational Text, Optimism/Enthusiasm, Respect/Citizenship, Pride


Early Fluent Dual Language, English Informational Text Grades PreK-2, Early Fluent English, Bebop Latin American English Grades PreK-2, Bebop Nonfiction Grades PreK-2, Dual Language Levels J-M Collection, Latin American Collection English 6PK, English Guided Reading Level J, Multicultural Collection 9 , Multicultural Collection 10, Multicultural Collection 12, Multicultural Collection 13, Multicultural Collection 14, Multicultural Collection 15, Multicultural Collection 11, Multicultural Collection 16, At Home Learning Collection for Grades PreK-2, Reading Recovery Bebop Books collection, Bebop English Nonfiction

Want to know more about us or have specific questions regarding our Teacher's Guides?

Please write us!


Terms of Use