Friday, June 7, 2013

A Porcupine Named Fluffy by Helen Lester - Teaching Ideas

Fluffy is a porcupine. Fluffy doesn't think his name matches who he is. Fluffy thinks he needs to be fluffier to match his name. Fluffy tries many crazy ways to make himself fluffy but none of them seem to work. Poor little Fluffy is so discouraged! He decides to take a walk so he can think about other things he can do to make himself fluffy. On his walk he meets a rhinoceros, and this rhinoceros is not very friendly to Fluffy, in fact he laughs at Fluffy! He is laughing at Fluffy because he thinks Fluffy is a silly name for a porcupine. As the rhinoceros is laughing Fluffy tries to ask what the rhinoceros's name is. When the rhinoceros has finally calmed enough to tell Fluffy his name, Fluffy starts to laugh just as hard as the rhinoceros was laughing at Fluffy's name. You see, the rhinoceros's name was HIPPO! Fluffy thought this was a completely silly name for a rhinoceros. From that day on, Fluffy the porcupine, and Hippo the rhinoceros, were best friends and Fluffy no longer cared that he didn't match his name!

You can't help but love this story, it is so cute, with such a great message - friends always make things better!

Listed below are some skills, strategies and ideas and question you can use to great a fun and meaningful lesson using this book.

Because there are so many great teaching opportunities with this book I created a packet with most of the skills and strategies listed below.

Reading level: 2.3
Theme/subject: friendship, character/values
Genre: humorous

Suggested Vocabulary/phrases: common, fierce, doubt, suspicious, convinced, quill, rough time, unkindly, inquired, exhausted

Reading skills and strategies:
  • Asking questions - {possible questions before} I wonder what the story is going to be about.  I wonder why a porcupine is named Fluffy? {possible questions during} I wonder if Fluffy really can make himself fluffy.  {possible questions after} I wonder why the rhinoceros was named Hippo.  **Remember to have your students answer/reflect their questions.
  • Author's point of view – Third. Be sure to find 3 pieces of evidence to support this (he, they, Fluffy, Hippo)
  • Author's purpose – Entertain {evidence} Fluffy is a silly name for a porcupine. Fluffy did a lot of funny things to try to make himself fluffy. Fluffy and Hippo laughed till they cried, porcupines and rhinoceroses don’t laugh or cry. All these things made a very silly and entertaining story.
  • Beginning, middle, end - {most important event from beginning} Fluffy’s mom and dad named their baby Fluffy. {most important event from middle} Fluffy tried multiple ways to make himself be Fluffy. {most important event from end} Fluffy make a friend that had a name that was just as funny as his.
  • Cause and effect – Why did mom and dad name their baby Fluffy? Because they thought it was a cute name. Why did Fluffy doubt that he was fluffy? Because he backed into a door and got stuck. Why did Fluffy, without a doubt, know that he was not fluffy? Because when he carried an umbrella he poked right through it. Why was Fluffy’s mother not pleased? Because she sat on Fluffy when he tried to be a pillow. How come Fluffy got soggy? Because he soaked in the bathtub for too long. Why did Fluffy think he should have been named Gooey? Because he put whipped cream on each little quill and he was all gooey afterward. Why did the rhinoceros laugh? Because he thought Fluffy was a silly name for a porcupine. Why did Fluffy laugh? Because he thought Hippo was a funny name for a rhinoceros. Why didn’t Fluffy mind being Fluffy anymore? Because he had a best friend that had a name as silly as his.
  • Character analysis - describe Fluffy. Describe Hippo {looks like, feelings, thoughts, character}
  • Character changes – In the beginning, Fluffy was trying everything to make himself fit his name. In the end, he didn’t care anymore that his name did not fit who he was.
  • Classify & categorize – Classify textures – categorize things that are fluffy and things that are spikey.
  • Compare & contrast – compare and contrast Fluffy and Hippo
  • Connections - {possible text-to-self connections} having a name you don’t like. Having a friend that makes you feel good about who you are.
  • Drawing conclusions & inferencing – Why do you think Hippo laughed at Fluffy’s name when he had a name just as silly? {text clues} When Hippo first meets Fluffy he tells Fluffy that he is going to give him a rough time. {what I know} sometimes people tease and laugh at someone for the same things they may be teased and laughed at for. {my conclusion} I think Hippo laughed at Fluffy’s name because he was tired of other’s laughing at his name.
  • Fact & opinion{fact} Fluffy is a porcupine. Fluffy got stuck in the door. Fluffy had a friend named Hippo. Fluffy put whipped cream on each of his quills. Fluffy and Hippo laughed till they cried. {opinion} Fluffy is a cute name. Fluffy would make a good cloud. Eating marshmallows will make you fluffy. Hippo was mean to Fluffy. Porcupines and Rhinoceroses can never be friends.
  • Main idea & details - {main idea} The story is mostly about Fluffy trying to be like his name, fluffy.{details} Fluffy tried to become a cloud. Fluffy put whipped cream on all of his quills. Fluffy tried to become a bunny.
  • Plot - the turning point or climax in the story was when Fluffy met Hippo.
  • Predict – What do you think the story is going to be about? How do you think Fluffy will become fluffier? What do you think the rhinoceros will do to Fluffy? What do you think the rhinoceros’ name is?
  • Problem & solution - {problem} Fluffy thinks his name doesn’t fit who he is. {solution} Fluffy tries to make himself fluffier. He tries to become a pillow and a cloud. He soaks in the bathtub and covers himself with whipped cream.
  • Sequencing – mom and dad name their baby Fluffy. Fluffy started to doubt that he was fluffy. Fluffy got stuck in the door. He got stuck in his mattress. He poked holes in his umbrella. Fluffy tried to become a cloud. Fluffy’s mom sat on him when he tried to be a pillow. Fluffy tried to cover himself in whipped cream and shaving cream and feathers. Fluffy met a rhinoceros. The rhinoceros laughed at his name. The rhinoceros told Fluffy his name. Fluffy laughed at the rhinoceros’ name. Fluffy and Hippo became friends.
  • Story elements - list title, author, characters, setting, beginning, middle, end, or problem & solution.
  • Strong thought – Hippo laughed because he thought Fluffy had a funny name.  What could you tell Hippo about laughing at other people?
  • Summarize - {someone} Fluffy {wanted} wanted to fit his name {but} but it wasn’t working {so} so he went out for a walk and {then} then met a rhinoceros named Hippo. Fluffy and Hippo became friends and Fluffy {finally} finally didn’t care about his name anymore.
  • Theme – Friends always make things better.
  • Visualize – Fluffy tried and tried to become fluffy, but nothing worked. Visualize a new idea that Fluffy could try.

You can pick this packet up from either one of my stores.
Happy Planning!


  1. I continue to stand in awe of your work. WoW! What a comprehensive review. Thank you SO much.


  2. Amazing! The resources you provide a just incredible. I loved this book as a child.

    The REAL Teachers of Orange County

    1. Thank you! It is a great book, so fun and many teaching opportunities to go with it.
      Enjoy your week!

  3. I have loved this book for a long time! The characters are so cute and fun. Your pack looks amazing!
    Conversations in Literacy

    1. Thanks Lori! Totally cute characters with a great lesson at the end.
      Enjoy your week!

  4. I just love Helen Lester! I usually read her books with my first graders in January because of the Tacky series. Gonna definite have to work in Fluffy.(Have another item to put on my wish list!) You have so many great ideas. Thanks for the wonderful blog.

    1. Hey Sara,
      Yes, Helen Lester is amazing! If you love Tacky you won't be disappointed with Fluffy - just as cute with a great lesson!
      Enjoy your week!

  5. Hey Shawna,
    You switched up your blog design or am I late to this party? I feel like it's new...mine is. This book is awesome, I love all your book studies. Book studies are my favorite to create on tpt. Enjoy summer here in beautiful CALI...oh by the way. I was in our old stomping grounds a few weeks ago - in Torrance, El Paso Cantina for a little mini THS reunion. LOL
    Traditions, Laughter and Happily Ever After

    1. Hey Vicky!
      Great to hear from you! Blog look is new but done many months maybe a little late :) I hope you had fun here in the SouthBay! It's funny because I was actually in your neck of the woods last weekend visiting a friend.
      Enjoy your week!

  6. did I forget something? Oh, yeah: Great! thanks for sharing that with us.


Thoughts and comments are always welcome!

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