Friday, December 7, 2012

Olive, the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh - Teaching Ideas

Olive thinks she is "the other reindeer" so she heads to the North Pole so she can help Santa. Santa agrees to let Olive come along on the sleigh, so Comet ties her to the reindeer with a ribbon. Soon Santa and the reindeer start to have problems. They crash into a tree, they lose some toys, they have a big hole in the sleigh and they are running late! Thankfully, Olive is there to help. She chews the branches of the tree to get them unstuck, she fetches all the flutes that fell out of the sleigh, but most importantly she guides them home when the fog is too thick. If it weren't for Olive, Santa and the reindeer might not have made it home!

This is such a cute story, your students are sure to love it! This story is written in a way that many reading skills and strategies work well. Listed below are some ideas and questions you can use for each skill or strategy.

Reading level: 3.5
Theme: acceptance and friendship
Genre: Christmas

Suggested Vocabulary: twitch, wind instruments, patching, dreaded, antlers

Reading skills and strategies:
  • Asking questions - {possible questions before} I wonder what this story is going to be about. Is there a reindeer named Olive? {possible questions during} Does the song really say “Olive the other reindeer?” Was Olive really flying? I wonder why the reindeer were staring at Olive. {possible questions after} I wonder if Santa will have Olive help every year. **Remember to have your students answer/reflect their questions.
  • Author’s point of view – Third person point of view. Be sure to find 3 pieces of evidence to support this.
  • Author’s purpose - entertain {evidence} There would never be a dog hanging from Santa’s sleigh. Santa would never get caught in a tree and he would never lose toys out of his bag. The illustrations are kind of silly and Santa and the reindeer have funny looks on their faces when they got stuck in the tree.
  • Beginning, middle, end - {most important event from beginning} Olive thought she was the other reindeer, so she went to the North Pole to help Santa. {most important event from middle} Olive helped Santa by chewing sticks to get out of the tree, barking so Santa could catch the gumdrops and fetching all of the flutes that fell to the ground. {most important event from end} Olive was able to help sniff their way home in the heavy fog.
  • Cause and effect – Why did Olive go to the North Pole? Because she heard the song and though she was a reindeer.  Why did Santa crash into a tree? Because all the reindeer were curious about Olive and they were watching her and not their path. Why did Olive chew all the branches in the tree? Because dogs are good at chewing sticks and she was trying to get them out of the tree. Why did Santa prepare for an Emergency Landing? Because he thought there must be a hole in the sled if he was losing toys. Why was Santa running late? Because he had to stop to patch the hole in the sled. Why were all the reindeer feeling sleepy? Because the fog was as thick as a pillow. Why was Olive able to guide the sleigh home? Because she followed the scent of the parade of cookies.
  • Character analysis - describe Olive {looks like, feelings, thoughts, character}
  • Classify & categorize – animals that can fly and animals that can’t.
  • Compare & contrast – compare dogs and reindeer.
  • Connections - {possible text-to-self connections} Helping someone. Being good at something.
  • Drawing conclusions & inferencing – Why do you think Olive was given reindeer antlers for Christmas? {text clues} Olive helped Santa when he was on the sleigh. Olive guided Santa and the reindeer home in the fog. {what I know} When you want someone to feel a part of a group you usually give them something to show they are a part of the group like a jersey, or hat. {my conclusion} I think Santa gave Olive a pair of reindeer antlers because Olive really proved that even though she could not fly she helped Santa and the reindeer while they were out.
  • Fact & opinion{facts} Reindeer and caribou are two names for the same animal. Reindeer can travel about 3,000 miles per year. Reindeer can run up to 48 mph. The hair on a reindeer is hollow to help keep them warm. Male reindeer shed their antlers in early December and female reindeer keep their antlers all winter.  {opinions} Reindeer are pretty animals. Baby reindeer are the cutest baby animals. Reindeer like to play games. Reindeer could be good pets. Reindeer only live in the North Pole.
  • Main idea & details –{main idea} Olive thought she was the other reindeer so she had to go help Santa and the reindeer. {details} Olive chewed all the branches to help Santa and the reindeer get out of the tree. Olive fetched all of the flutes that fell out of the sled. Olive was able to guide Santa and the reindeer home in the fog by sniffing the cookie parade.
  • Plot - the turning point or climax in the story was when there was too much fog for Santa and the reindeer to get home. Olive was able to sniff the cookie parade and guide them home.
  • Predict – What do you think the story will be about?  Do you think Santa will let Olive go with them? How do you think Olive will be able to help? What do you think is going to happen if the reindeer don’t watch where they are going? How do you think they are going to get out of the tree? Why do you think the gumdrops and flutes are falling out of the sleigh? Do you think Santa will finish delivering presents on time? How do you think Santa and the reindeer will get home with so much fog? What kind of gift do you think Olive is going to get from Santa?
  • Problem & solution - {problem} Santa and the reindeer cannot find their way home because of the fog. {solution} Santa asks Olive to smell for the cookie parade that Mrs. Claus is fixing for breakfast. Once Olive smells it she can guide them home.
  • Sequencing – Olive hears a song and she thinks it says “Olive the other reindeer”. Olive decides she must go to the North Pole since she is the other reindeer. Santa lets Olive join the reindeer. They crash into a tree. They lose some gumdrops. Flutes fall out of the sleigh. Santa makes an emergency landing and fixes the hole in the sleigh. They deliver all the presents and head home. It is too foggy. Santa asks Olive to guide the sleigh home. The reindeer and elves opened their presents. Olive got a pair of reindeer antlers for Christmas.
  • Story elements - list title, author, characters, setting, beginning, middle, end, or problem & solution.
  • Strong thought – I think Santa and the reindeer were having sleigh problems because Olive was there. If she wasn't there, then they wouldn’t have crashed into the tree and gotten the hole in the sleigh. But, if Olive wasn’t there they might not have been able to get home. Do you think it was a good idea to have Olive go or a bad idea?
  • Theme – Olive could not fly like the other reindeer but she could do things the reindeer couldn’t, like chew sticks, sniff out trouble or home, and fetch. Santa and the other reindeer accepted Olive for what she was, a dog. Because of this acceptance they delivered all the presents on time and made it home safely. 
  • Visualize – Visualize all the things dogs are good at. How else could Olive be helpful to Santa and the reindeer?
Here is a reading skills and strategy packet I created to use with this book.


You can purchase this packet from either one of my stores :)


As an added bonus here is a freebie for your students to practice their Past, Present, and Future verbs.
  Visit either one of my stores to pick up this freebie :)

 Happy reading!

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