We Play Music

By Dolores Johnson
Illustrations by Dolores Johnson

Guided Reading: A
DRA: 1
Intervention: 1

Genre: Realistic Fiction
12 Pages
20 Words

Overview: It's a celebration of sound when a group of neighborhood children gather on a stoop to play their instruments.

Focus: Concepts of Print and Reading Strategies:
* one-to-one matching * using the picture clues * reading a patterned sentence

Supportive Text Features
* familiar words and concept * patterned sentence * strong picture-text match

High-frequency Words: I, a

Concept Word: Play (as in "play an instrument")

National Standards
Social Studies: Friendship

ELL/ESL: Tocamos música

Getting Ready to Read
1. Introduce the concept and vocabulary through by asking open-ended questions: * Tell me some rhythm instruments that you have played during music time. * Tell me some other things children may use to make music. * What instruments might be played in a kindergarten band?

  1. Connect children’s past experiences with the story and vocabulary:
    • Hold the book, calling children’s attention to the title. Read: "We Play Music"
    • Ask them to predict what they would expect to see children doing.
    • Show the back cover and read the copy. Ask children why they think these children love to play music.
    • Have children predict some words they might read in the story.
    • Give children the book and have them look at the pictures.
    • Ask them what they see the children doing to make music.
  1. 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.
  1. Be aware of the following text features:
    • The book contains familiar words: drum, bell, nlock, horn, pan.
    • The text is on the page facing the picture
    • There is a patterned sentence: "I play a drum"
    • Only one word changes on each page.
    • There is no sentence on the last page, but the picture tells the story’s end.

Reading the Book
1. Set a purpose by telling children to read the book and find out how children make music with simple instruments.

  1. 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.

  2. Look for these reading behaviors during the first reading:

    • Do the words the children 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 /d/ - /r/ - /u/ - /m/ or blending the sounds?
    • Do they reread if they come to an unfamiliar or unknown word?
    • Have they self-corrected any mistakes?
    • 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?
  1. As children read, suggest a reading strategy if they are struggling: "Try looking at the picture to make sense of the print." Encourage children to take a guess or use the beginning letter sound.

  2. Possible teaching points to address based on your observations:

    • Review using the picture to help with each new word.
    • Review using the beginning sound.
    • Model how to reread the sentence if it doesn't sound right or make sense
    • Call attention to all the high-frequency words children have learned and used.
    • Call attention to the exclamation point on the last page.

After the First Reading
1. Have children confirm their predictions about children making music.

  1. Ask children to explain how they would play each instrument. Ask them to find the instrument you might shake, hit, blow, and so on.

  2. Generate some words that would indicate how each instrument would sound.

  3. Generate some words that could be added to each sentence and would tell how the instrument is played. For example: "I play a drum with my hands." or "I play a horn by blowing."

  4. Look at page 12. Discuss why this is the last page and what it tells about the story. What might the text be for this page?

Second Reading
1. Have children reread the book in a whisper voice or to a partner.

  1. 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
Have children tell how they would play each instrument. For example, a child might say, "I hold the block in one hand and hit it with a stick that I hold in my other hand." or "I would listen to the music and keep the beat." Encourage children to speak in full sentences.

Make a drum or other rhythm instrument using small boxes or cans. Give children paint to decorate the instrument.

Read Jazz Baby by Carole Boston Weatherford. Have children learn the rhyme and act out the text using instruments found in the classroom.

Explore making sounds by giving children a variety of every day objects. Which ones make metallic sounds, loud sounds, soft sounds, sweet sounds? How can you make the sound change? After free exploration, guide children in using the objects in different ways. Record the results of the exploration on a chart or write a group story.

Use the instruments to explore sound patterns. Simple ABABA and ABBA patterns can be made using two instruments or by striking the same instrument in two different ways: hard-soft-hard-soft-hard, or hit-shake-shake-hit.

Social Studies
Read Max Found Two Sticks by Brian Pinkney. Call children’s attention to the sounds made in the story. Discuss how Max made music and how the music made Max feel. Discuss how other people in the story reacted to Max.

Have children write about a song or some music they like.

# Tocamos música

Guided Reading: A
DRA: 1
Intervention: 1

The Spanish edition also uses a patterned sentence and familiar words: tambor, campana, bloque, corneta, plato.. Many children speak dialects or may mix Spanish and English, it will be important to address the names for the clothing during the introduction. Help children understand that “book language” does not always match the words we use every day.

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.

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

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About This Title

Guided Reading:




Interest Level:

Grades PreK - K

Reading Level:

Grades PreK - K


Comparing/Classifying/Measuring, Classroom Activities, Similarities and Differences, Music, Multiethnic interest, Games/Toys, Friendship, Cultural Diversity, Childhood Experiences and Memories, Collaboration, Neighbors


Bebop African American English Grades PreK-2, Early Emergent Dual Language, Early Emergent English , Bebop English Guided Reading Level A, Bebop Realistic Fiction Collection Grades PreK-2, Reading Partners ER Lee & Low Kit , Dual Language Levels A-C Collection, African American Collection English 6PK, Diverse Backgrounds Collection English 6PK, Reading Recovery Bebop Books collection, Bebop English Fiction, Infant Toddler Emotional Interactions, PreK Instructional Interactions

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