Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Biggest, Best Snowman by Margery Cuyler - Teaching Ideas


Poor Little Nell is continually told that she is too small to help with anything and when her animal friends ask her to show them how to build a snowman she says she can't because she is too small. The animals believed that she was not too small and finally convinced her that she really could show them how to build the snowman. Together, Little Nell and her animal friends built the biggest, best snowman, but when Little Nell got home and told her family about the snowman, they didn't believe her. Poor Little Nell had to take her family to see the snowman so they could once and for all see that she was not too small to do things. Little Nell's mama and sisters were so surprise at the sight of the snowman their mouths dropped open. After seeing the snowman, both her mama and one of her sisters agreed that she was not too small to help. Little Nell was now very happy.

This is a great story with a great lesson for all those kiddos that think they are too small to do something.

Listed below are skills and strategies that you could use to help create a very meaningful lesson.

I have created an entire skills and strategies packet to go with this book, there was just too much wonderful teaching potential not to.

Reading level: 2.8
Theme/Subject: humorous fiction
Genre: family, friendship, pride/self-esteem

Suggested vocabulary and phrases: blustery voices, patted, matted and batted the snow, nudged, gazed

Reading skills and strategies:
  • Asking questions - {possible questions before} I wonder what the story is about. Did she make that snowman by herself?  {possible questions during} Why does everyone think she is too small to help? Why do her sisters and her mama make her feel so bad? {possible questions after} I wonder if Big Lizzie will change her mind. **Remember to have your students answer/reflect their questions.
  • Author’s point of view – Third person. Be sure to find 3 pieces of evidence to support this.
  • Author’s purpose – Entertain {evidence} The illustrator drew Big Mama and the sisters to look pretty silly. Animals cannot really talk. Little Nell built a huge snowman. All these things make an entertaining story.
  • Beginning, middle, end - {most important event from beginning} Little Nell was told she was too little to help. {most important event from middle} Little Nell builds a snowman with the help of her animal friends. {most important event from end} Mama and Big Sarah told Little Nell that she was not too small.
  • cause and effect – Why wouldn’t Big Mama, Big Lizzie, and Big Sarah let Little Nell help? Because they thought she was too small to help. Why is Little Nell so sad? Because her family won’t let her help. Why does Little Nell think she can’t build a snowman? Because her family always tells her she is too small to do things. Why did Little Nell call the birds? So they could put the face on the snowman. Why did Little Nell say goodbye to her animal friends? Because it was time for lunch. Why did Little Nell have to bring Big Mama and her sisters to the snowman? Because they didn’t believe that she could build a snowman. Why did Big Mama and her sisters mouths drop open? Because they couldn’t believe what they saw. Why did Big Lizzie stick her nose up into the air? Because she still didn’t think Little Nell was big enough to do anything.
  • character analysis - describe Little Nell, Big Mama, Big Sarah, Big Lizzie {looks like, feelings, thoughts, character}
  • Character changes – In the beginning Little Nell was sad and believed that she couldn’t do anything because she was too small. At the end of the story Little Nell was happy and confident because she built a snowman and her mama and sister said that she could now help out at home.
  • Classify & categorize – Things adults should do and things children should do.
  • Compare & contrast – this book to the book The Littlest Pilgrim by Brandi Dougherty. Compare and contrast your mom to Big Mama.
  • Connections - {possible text-to-self connections} Being too small to help. Building a snowman. Wanting to help but not being able to. Surprising your family with something you did. {possible text-to-text connections} Connect to The Littlest Pilgrim by Brandi Dougherty – both books have a main character that is told they are too small to help.
  • Drawing conclusions & inferencing – Why do you think Big Lizzie still thinks Little Nell is too small to help? {text clues} Big Lizzie does not look impressed with Little Nell’s snowman. {my conclusion} I think Big Lizzie still doesn’t believe that Little Nell made that snowman without help, so she thinks she is still too small to help at home.
  • Fact & opinion – about The Biggest Best Snowman. {facts} Big Mama, Big Sarah, and Big Lizzie tell Little Nell that she is too small to help. Little Nell takes her mama and sisters to see the snowman Little Nell showed her animal friends how to build a snowman. The birds put the face on the snowman. {Opinions} Little Nell is too small to help. Little Nell’s mama and sisters are mean. Little Nell’s mama and sisters look funny. The snowman should really be wearing a hat.
  • Main idea & details - {main idea} Little Nell builds a big snowman. {details} Little Nell’s animal friends helped make the snowman. Little Nell calls the birds to help put on the snowman's face. Big Mama was happy to see the snowman Little Nell made.
  • Plot - the turning point or climax in the story is when Little Nell brings Big Mama, Big Sarah, and Big Lizzie out to see the snowman.
  • Predict – What do you think the story will be about? Do you think Big Mama will ever let Little Nell help? Will Little Nell show her animal friends how to build a snowman? What do you think Big Mama’s reaction will be when she sees the snowman? What will Big Lizzie and Big Sarah’s reaction be to the snowman? Will Big Mama let her help now? Will Big Lizzie ever change her mind?
  • Problem & solution - {problem} Little Nell is sad and thinks that she can’t do anything. {solution} Little Nell’s animal friends talk her into showing them how to build a snowman.
  • Sequencing – Big Mama and her sisters won’t let Little Nell help with anything at home because she is too small. Little Nell builds a huge snowman with her animal friends. Little Nell calls the birds to put the face on the snowman. Little Nell goes home for lunch. She tells Big Mama and her sisters about her snowman. They don’t believe her. Little Nell takes her mama and sister out to see the snowman. They are very surprised to see the snowman. Big Mama and Big Sarah tell Little Nell that she can now help at home. Big Lizzie still thinks Little Nell is too small.
  • Story elements - list title, author, characters, setting, beginning, middle, end, or problem & solution.
  • Strong thought – Little Nell had all the animals help her build that snowman, so she really did not do it by herself. Big Lizzie still thinks Little Nell is too small to help. Do you think Little Nell is big enough to help out at home, even though she had a lot of help making the snowman?
  • Summarize - {someone} Little Nell {wanted} wanted to help at home {but} but her mama and sisters wouldn’t let her {so} so her animal friends helped her make a huge snowman. {then} When Little Nell brought her family out to see the snowman they {finally} finally agreed that she was big enough to now help.
  • Theme – You are never too small to help. You can accomplish anything with help from your friends. Not giving someone a chance can hurt their feelings.
  • Visualize – Visualize yourself making a snowman, what would it look like?


 Included in the packet:
Directions and Common Core Standards for each skill and strategy. Plus ideas for extending some of the activities.
* Asking Questions - 2 pages
* Author's Point of View - 2 pages
* Beginning, Middle, End - 5 pages
* Cause and Effect - 8 pages and 1 key
* Character Analysis - 2 pages
* Character Change - 1 page
* Classify and Categorize - 5 pages
* Compare and Contrast - 3 pages
* Text-to-Self Connections - 3 pages
* Text-to-Text Connections - 2 pages
* Drawing Conclusions/Inferencing - 6 pages
* Fact and Opinion - 2 pages
* Main Idea and Details - 6 pages
* Making Predictions - 3 pages
* Problem/Solution - 5 pages
* Sequencing - 8 pages plus 2 keys
* Plot - 2 pages
* Summarize - 1 page
* Story Map - 3 pages
* Strong Thought - 3 pages
* Theme - 1 page
* Visualize - 3 pages

 You can pick this packet up in either one of my stores.
 Happy reading!

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