Piñata Party

By Mimi Chapra
Illustrations by Christy Hale

Focus: Concepts of Print and Reading Strategies

  • using the picture clues and beginning sounds
  • applying prior knowledge about taking turns (semantic knowledge)
  • sequencing
  • following a story line to a conclusion

Supportive Text Features

  • familiar words and concepts
  • patterned sentence
  • strong picture to text match

High-frequency Words: a, she, he, the, here, come

Getting Ready to Read

  1. Introduce the concept and vocabulary by asking open-ended questions:
    • Tell me about some birthday party games you have played.
    • How do children take turns during a game?
    • What do you do know about playing with a piñata?
  2. Connect children’s past experiences with the book vocabulary:
    • Hold the book. Call children’s attention to the title. Read: “Piñata Party.”
    • Have them predict what might happen in the story and suggest some story words.
    • Give children the book and have them look at the pictures.
    • Ask them what they see happening.
  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 relies on the knowledge of taking turns while playing with others.
    • The change in the patterned sentence is related to the picture clue and children’s ability to use “he” for boys and “she” for girls.
    • There is a cause and effect relationship, which brings the story to its conclusion.
    • There are two lines of text on the last page.

Reading the Book

  1. Set a purpose by telling children to read about playing with a piñata.

  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 /h/ - /i/ - /t/ - /s/ or blending the sounds?
    • Do they reread if they come to an unfamiliar or unknown word?
    • Have they self-corrected any mistakes?
    • Do they use the question mark to affect how they read the sentences?
    • 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 rereading the sentence.” Encourage children to take a guess based on the subject of the story or to use the beginning sounds or known parts of the word.

  5. Possible teaching points to address based on your observations:
    • Distinguish between the words and use of “he” and “she.”
    • Review the return sweep on the last page.
    • Review the “s” ending in “hits.”
    • Use the picture and the beginning sound of a word to cross check.

After the First Reading

  1. Have children retell the story in their own words. They will be making inferences and drawing conclusions based on the pictures and the words read.

  2. Look at each page and brainstorm some words for each child to say.

  3. Make connections between this party and children’s experiences.

  4. Review the sequence of events and discuss how the events led to the breaking of the piñata. Brainstorm some other party games. Ask: “What are the rules? How is a winner decided?”

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 student as an assessment of the student’s reading behavior.

Cross-Curricular Activities

Music: Listen to Latin music and have children use maracas, drums, and rhythm sticks to join in the beat. Have some children move to the music as the others play the instruments.

Art: Make a papier-mâché class piñata. Have children vote on a shape and then decorate it together.    

Math: Have children bring some small toys to school. First sort the toys in a variety of ways: by size, color, shape, material it is made out of, etc. Lastly, use a Venn diagram to sort the toys according to whether or not they are appropriate for a piñata. Have children decide upon a criterion to help them decide. Use a stopwatch and have children count 100, 200, 300, 400, etc. as each child takes a turn hitting the piñata.

Science: During the construction of the piñata, talk with children about evaporation. Ask: “What makes the water disappear and the piñata become dry?” Have children record their observations as the piñata dries.    

Social Studies: Read MEXICO by David F. Marx (Children’s Press, a Rookie Read About Geography book) and talk about the people who live in Mexico. Find some pictures of piñatas and discuss how each one is unique.

Writing: After creating a piñata in class, have children write an advertisement or create a poster encouraging someone to buy the piñata.

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

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.

Be aware that many children speak dialects or may mix Spanish and English. During the introduction, help children understand that “book language” does not always match the words we use every day. In this story, the phrases la niña and el niño are used. Encourage children to check the pictures to confirm which phrase is correct. At the end of the English edition of the story, prizes fall out of the piñata. In the Spanish edition, los juguetes y golosinas fall out. Talk about this difference. Ask: “Besides toys and sweets, what else might be in a piñata for a prize?”

If children have difficulty with concepts or words in the story, see the article “Guided Reading with Emergent Readers” for suggestions.

Phonics Supplement


About This Title

Guided Reading:




Interest Level:

Grades PreK - 1

Reading Level:

Grades K - 1


Sharing & Giving, Multiethnic interest, Latino/Hispanic/Mexican Interest, Holidays/Traditions, Games/Toys, Friendship, Families, Cultural Diversity, Childhood Experiences and Memories, Pride, Collaboration, Optimism/Enthusiasm, Self Control/Self Regulation


Emergent English, Emergent Dual Language, Bebop English Guided Reading Level D, 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, Diverse Backgrounds Collection English 6PK, Reading Recovery Bebop Books collection, Bebop English Fiction

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Phonics Supplement

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