Twister's Tricks

By Francis McCall
Illustrations by Francis McCall


  • reading and following conversation
  • using first person and third person singular verb endings
  • understanding cause-and-effect relationships
  • reading two lines of text with return sweep

Supportive Text Features:

  • familiar words and concepts
  • narrative sentence and text form
  • adequate space around text

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

High-frequency Words: this, is, his, going, to, be, in, a, we, are, him, I, do, on, the, and, up, call, for, he

Getting Ready to Read

  1. Introduce the concept and vocabulary by asking open-ended questions:
    • How do you teach an animal to do tricks?
    • What do you know about horses?
    • How might you teach a horse to do tricks?
  2. Connect children’s past experiences with the book vocabulary:
    • Call children’s attention to the title. Read: “Twister’s Tricks.”
    • Ask them to predict what they would expect to see happen in the story.
    • Show the back cover and read the copy. Ask what the children might do to make sure their horse is ready for a show.
    • 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 the children in the book are doing.
  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 remember what they know about horses and training animals. 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. Quotation marks indicate what the characters say.
    • Several pages have more than one line of text, requiring a return sweep.
    • Many familiar action verbs are used in the first person or third person form.
    • Two common contractions are used: let’s, can’t.
    • The photographs support the text.

Reading the Book

  1. Set a purpose by telling children to read about the tricks Twister the horse has learned.

  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:
    • 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 and as a key to reading dialogue?
    • 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.
    • Call attention to the contractions and the use of an apostrophe to take the place of the missing letters.
    • Review using punctuation marks to guide the meaning-making process. Point out the use of quotation marks, commas, and question marks in dialogue and the exclamation point on the last page.
    • Work with first person and third person verb endings: lift/lifts, ride/rides, pull/pulls, climb/climbs.
    • Explore the cause-and-effect relationships as the children perform their tricks with Twister.
    • 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 actually happened in the story.

  2. Focus children’s attention on what the children in the story do to get Twister to perform his tricks. Elicit children’s ideas about how Twister knew what to do each time.

  3. Encourage children to practice reading the dialogue, trying different ways of saying each statement and judging which way sounds most appropriate in each situation.

  4. Connect the story with children’s experiences teaching pets to do tricks.

  5. Find evidence in the story that the children love their horse.

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: Have children draw pictures of their pets, circus animals, or other favorite animals doing tricks.

Music: Ask children to choose a favorite or familiar song and challenge them to innovate by changing the words so the song is about Twister. For example, an innovation on the song “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” might begin, “Twister, Twister, do your tricks.”

Science: Show children pictures of several animals with hooves, such as a horse, zebra, deer, giraffe, cow, and goat. Talk about how these animals are similar to and different from each other. You may also wish to help children research some or all of these animals to find out the scientific characteristics that are used to differentiate them.

Math: Practice counting by twos, fives, and tens. Have children decide how many tricks Twister will perform in the show and then calculate how many points he will earn if the tricks are worth two, five, or ten points each.

Social Studies: Investigate the importance of horses in the settling and development of the United States. For example, horses were a major form of transportation for people, farmers used horses to pull plows, horses pulled wagons and carriages, horses were ridden by sheriffs, policemen, and pony express riders, and so on. Show as many pictures as you can to help children visualize these activities. Explore further any topic that seems particularly interesting to children.

Writing: Write a class story about what happened when the children took Twister to the show. Children may also wish to illustrate their story.

Guided Reading with
Los trucos de Twister

Guided Reading™: G        DRA: 12        Intervention: 12
16 pages, 151 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. Children may be unfamiliar with the way dialogue is indicated and how question marks are used in written Spanish. Dashes are used to indicate dialogue and question marks are used at both the beginning and end of a sentence. The marks appear “upside down” at the beginning of each sentence and “right side up” at the end. Also call attention to the first person and third person verb forms used, specifically to the different conjugations used with “yo” and “el.” For example, “yo llevo” and “el lleva.”

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 K - 2

Reading Level:

Grades 1 - 1


Comparing/Classifying/Measuring, Photographic Illustrations, Animal/Biodiversity/Plant Adaptations, Nature/Science, Nonfiction, Sports, Similarities and Differences, Siblings, Responsibility, Occupations, Friendship, Families, Childhood Experiences and Memories, African/African American Interest, Beginning Concepts, Animals, Empathy/Compassion, How To, Persistence/Grit, Respect/Citizenship, Self Control/Self Regulation, Pride


Emergent English, Emergent Dual Language, English Informational Text Grades PreK-2, Bebop English Guided Reading Level F, Bebop Nonfiction Grades PreK-2, Dual Language Levels D-I Collection, African American Collection English 6PK, Multicultural Collection 10, Multicultural Collection 12, Multicultural Collection 14, Multicultural Collection 11, Reading Recovery Bebop Books collection, Bebop English Nonfiction

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