Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen - Teaching Ideas

This beautifully written book takes the reader on a late night journey through the woods looking for owls. After a long wait the little girl goes out owling with her Pa. They tromp through the woods who-whoooing in hopes that an owl will respond. The owls do not respond the first time, but that doesn't matter they continue their search. Finally, their persistence and continued who-whooing pays off when an owl comes flying over head. When it lands on the branch overhead the girl stands there in utter silence enjoying the entire owling experience.

This book is a great mentor text for writing and is filled with beautiful figurative language but that is not what I looked at for this review. I looked at the reading skills and strategies that work with this story.

So if you are interested using this book for more than the language take a look at the list below, it may help you use this book for more than just writing.

Reading level: 3.2
Theme/subject: winter
Genre: realistic fiction

Suggested Vocabulary/phrases: statues, woolen cap, faded, Great Horned Owl, stained, edge of the meadow,

Reading skills and strategies:
  • Asking questions - {possible questions before}I wonder what the story is going to be about. I wonder what an owl moon is. I wonder where the people on the cover are going. {possible questions during}I wonder what owling is. I wonder why you have to be quiet to go owling. I wonder if they will find an owl.  {possible questions after} I wonder when they will go owling again. **Remember to have your students answer/reflect their questions.
  • Author's point of view – first. Be sure to find 3 pieces of evidence to support this (I, we ).
  • Author's purpose - entertain {evidence} The illustrations feel cold. The author uses lots of descriptive writing. The characters were happy in the story.
  • Beginning, middle, end - {most important event from beginning} Pa took little girl out owling for the first time. {most important event from middle} Pa called out and the owl came threading its way through the trees. {most important event from end} They stared at the big owl that landed on the branch above them.
  • Cause and effect – Why did the night sky seem to shine? Because the moon was so bright. Why were Pa and the girl walking towards the woods? Because they were going owling. How come the girl was not disappointed when they didn’t hear an owl? Because her brothers told her that sometimes there are owls and sometimes there are not. Why did Pa turn on his flashlight? So they could see the owl. How come it was time to go home? Because they saw an owl.
  • Character analysis - describe the girl {looks like, feelings, thoughts, character}
  • Classify & categorize – Classify times to talk, categorize when it is appropriate to talk and when you shouldn’t talk.
  • Connections - {possible text-to-self connections} Doing something special with your dad. Seeing an owl. Hiking through the woods at night in the snow. Needing to be completely quiet.
  • Drawing conclusions & inferencing – Why are you supposed to be quiet when you go owling? {text clues} Pa has gone owling a lot and that is what he said. {what I know} I know that some animals run away with loud noises. {my conclusion} If they wanted to see an owl they would need to be quiet so it doesn’t get scared and fly away.
  • Fact & opinion{fact} The girl and her dad went out late at night. It was a full moon. The girl and her Pa saw an owl. The girl had been waiting to go owling with her dad for a very long time. {opinion} Owls are beautiful. It is scary to be out at nighttime in the forest. It is hard to walk in the snow. It is not fun to be outside when it is so cold. Nighttime noises are spooky.
  • Main idea & details - {main idea} The story is mostly about a girl and her Pa going out to look for owls. {details} The little girl had to run after her Pa every once in a while. Pa would call out, “Who-who-who, who”. The stared at an owl that was on a branch over their head.
  • Plot - the turning point or climax in the story was when an owl called back.
  • Predict – What do you think the story is going to be about? What do you think owling is? Do you think they will see an owl? Do you think the girl will make noise and scare the owl away?
  • Problem & solution - {problem} The little girl’s father was calling for owls but none were calling back. {solution} The little girl and her father kept walking and calling and keeping quiet.
  • Sequencing – The little girl and her Pa went owling late one night. They hiked to the line of pine trees. Pa called out to the owls. They walked further into the woods. The girl and her Pa made it to a clearing in the woods. Pa called to the owls again. The girl stood quiet and still looking and listening for an owl. The owl came threading through the trees. Pa shone the flashlight on the owl that landed on the branch above them. They stared at the owl. The owl flew away. They walked home.
  • Story elements - list title, author, characters, setting, beginning, middle, end, or problem & solution.
  • Strong thought – After staring at the owl on the branch above her head, the girl and her Pa walked home quietly. How would you have reacted and walked home?
  • Summarize – {someone}Pa was calling out to the owls because they {wanted}wanted to see an owl {but}but the owls were not responding {so}so she had to be very quiet {then}then they saw one and  {finally}finally went home.
  • Theme – The lesson to be learned from this story is do what you are told and keep going because it will pay off in the end.

You can find this in either one of my stores.

Happy planning!


  1. This is a wonderful book. I always enjoyed reading it with my second graders. Such descriptive language!

    Sara :)
    The Colorful Apple

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. This book is also a great way to teach writing leads, and my first grade students love to write "owl moon" leads that start with who what and where. Analyze the firs


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