Saturday, April 11, 2015

Chocolate Milk, Por Favor! by Maria Dismondy - Teaching Ideas

When Maria Dismondy asked if I wanted to join her on her book tour, I jumped at the opportunity. Her books are wonderful and always offer an important lesson that needs to be shared, talked about and or addressed. This book is no exception.

Chocolate Milk, Por Favor! as the title suggests, celebrates diversity with empathy and a situation that many of our young students might identify with.

Here is the book synopsis to get a better idea of what this little gem is all about.

Johnny is a big fan of school but that all changes when the new kid, Gabe arrives. Gabe doesn't speak any English, and that doesn't stop Johnny from going out of his way to be unkind. But what will Johnny do when Gabe starts to make new friends? Will he join in the fun of making a new friend or turn the other way? Johnny realizes a powerful message in this story where student differences are celebrated. Read to find out how chocolate milk plays a major role in the discovery of the real universal language.

Instead of talking about a character lesson, I am going to look at the book like I look at all the books I review, what reading skills and strategies can I pull out of this book so that I can use it for more than just character lesson. 

So here is what I came up with...

Reading level: 3.1
Theme/subject: Diversity, empathy
Genre: fiction

Suggested vocabulary/phrases: delicioso, smacked his lips, trying to master, motioned, beamed, something clicked, actions speak louder than words

Reading skills and strategies:
  • Asking questions – these are possible questions or wonderings from either the student or teacher
    • Before            
      1. I wonder what the story is going to be about.
      2. I wonder what chocolate milk and soccer have to do with each other.
    • During
      1. I wonder why Johnny was being so mean to Gabe.
      2. I wonder what Gabe thinks of Johnny.
      3. I wonder why Johnny won’t be nice to Gabe.
      4. I wonder why the other kids were being nice to Gabe.
      5. I wonder why it took Johnny so long to be friendly to Gabe.
      6. I wonder if Johnny is feeling how Gabe felt when he sat alone at lunch.
      7. I wonder what "actions speak louder than words" means.
    • After  
      1. I wonder if Johnny and Gabe are now best friends.
  **Remember to have your students answer/reflect their questions.
  • Author's point of view – Third person
  • Author's purpose – Entertain/Inform
    • Evidence – The main character learned an important lesson about being a friend. The cover shows a boy standing on a wave of chocolate milk.
  • Beginning, middle, end – the most important event from each
    • Beginning – Gabe started a new school and Johnny thought he was a crybaby.
    • Middle – The other kids started including Gabe which made Johnny feel left out.
    • End – Gabe helped Johnny do a soccer move that he was having trouble with.
  • Cause and effect
      1. Why did Johnny think the new kid was a baby? Because he was crying.
      2. How come Johnny didn’t smile when his teacher introduced the class to Johnny? Because he didn’t like crybabies.
      3.  Why did Johnny finally talk to Gabe? Because Gabe was doing a tricky soccer move that he had been trying to do by himself.
      4. How come Johnny was able to finally do the tricky soccer move? Because Gabe spent time showing Johnny how to do it.
      5. Why did Johnny finally get how Gabe must have felt? Because Johnny was so frustrated trying to learn the tricky soccer move that he wanted to cry.
      6. Why did Johnny bring chocolate milk to Gabe?  Because Johnny knew it was his favorite.
      7. Why was it going to be a great day? Because Johnny finally understood that to have a friend is to first be a friend.
  • Character analysis - describe Johnny. Describe Gabe {looks like, feelings, thoughts, character, how others think/see the character}
  • Character changes – in the beginning of the story Gabe was sad and by the end of the story Gabe was happy because he was learning English and had friends. At the beginning of the story Johnny was mean to Gabe and by the end he and Gabe were friends, because he finally understood that to have a friend is to first be a friend.
  • Classify & categorize
    • Classify -  New students at a school
    • Categorize
      1. Ways to make them feel accepted
      2. Ways to make them feel sad and lonely
  • Compare & contrast
      1. Johnny and Gabe
      2. You and Johnny
      3. You and Gabe
      4. Johnny and another classmate
      5. Gabe and another classmate
  • Connections
    • Text-to-self   
      1. Being new to a school
      2. Feeling sad on the first day of school
      3. Someone calling you a crybaby
      4. Helping a new student
      5. Feeling left out and alone
      6. Being someplace where you didn’t know the language
    • Text-to-text  
      1. Any of Maria Dismondy’s books
  • Drawing conclusions & inferencing – Why were the other kids being nice to Gabe?
    • Text clues – Gabe was friendly to the other kids. He smiled and waved and he kept trying.
    • What I know – I know that it is important to be friendly to new kids because it can be scary starting a new school when you don’t know anyone.
    • My conclusion – I think the other kids were being nice to Gabe because Gabe was being friendly to them and they wanted Gabe to feel like he was part of their class.
Do you have to speak the same language to be friends with or have fun with someone?
    • Text clues – Gabe didn’t understand when the kids asked him to play soccer with them, but he did understand when they waved their hands inviting him over.
    • What I know – I know that people can learn and figure things out by watching. I also know that hand gestures and facial expressions can say as much as words.
    • My conclusion – I don’t think you have to speak the same language to be friends with someone because being nice and playing doesn’t require words.
  • Main idea & details
    • Main idea – The story is mostly about a new boy at school named Gabe and a boy Johnny at school that doesn’t like Gabe because he doesn’t speak English.
    • Details
      1. Johnny calls Gabe a crybaby.
      2. Johnny won’t share his book with Gabe.
      3. Johnny doesn’t understand why the other kids ask Gabe to play when he can’t even understand English.
  • Plot - the turning point or climax in the story is when Johnny finally understands how Gabe must have felt starting a new school and not knowing the language or any of the kids.
  • Predict
      1. What do you think the story is going to be about?
      2. What kind of day do you think Gabe is going to have?
      3. Do you think Johnny and Gabe will be friends?
      4. Do you think Johnny will ever be nice to Gabe?
      5. Do you think the other kids will be like Johnny?
      6. Do you think Johnny and Gabe will become best friends?
  • Problem & solution
    • Problem – Johnny is treating Gabe unkindly because he does not know how to speak English and because he cried on the first day of school.
    • Solution – Gabe doesn’t let Johnny’s unkindness keep him from becoming friends with the other kids and being nice to Johnny. Even though Johnny hasn’t been nice to Gabe, Gabe shows him how to do a tricky soccer move.
  • Sequencing
      1. Gabe starts a new school and is crying as he says goodbye to his mom.
      2. Johnny thinks Gabe is a crybaby.
      3. Johnny won’t share his book with Gabe.
      4. Gabe sat alone at lunch.
      5. Johnny watched Gabe do a tricky soccer move and wondered how he did it.
      6. The classmates invited Gabe to be on their team while Johnny sat out by himself.
      7. Gabe kept trying new things.
      8. Johnny sat alone at lunch.
      9. Johnny asked Gabe to show him how to do the tricky soccer move.
      10. Johnny finally got the trick and figured out how Gabe must have felt starting a new school.
      11. Johnny brought Gabe some chocolate milk the next day.
  • Story elements - list title, author, characters, setting, beginning, middle, end, or problem & solution.
  • Strong thought – someplace in the story that the reader has a strong reaction for example an “I knew it”, or  “Don’t do it” type of moment while reading.
    • When Johnny called Gabe a crybaby – Think about how you would feel if someone called you a crybaby. What would you say to Johnny about his actions?
    • When Johnny wouldn’t share his book with Gabe – Think about a time when you might not have shared something with another person, how do you think you made them feel? What would you say to Johnny about his actions?
    • When the classmates asked Gabe to be on their team – Think about a time when someone asked you to play unexpectedly, how did that make you feel? What would you say to the classmates for asking Gabe to join them?
    • When Johnny was sitting by himself feeling all alone – Think about a time when you were left out of an activity or game, how did you feel? What would you say to Johnny about his actions?
  • Summarize
    • Someone - Gabe
    • Wanted – wanted to fit in at his new school
    • But –but Johnny was making it hard for him
    • So – so the other classmates finally asked Gabe to join their team
    • Then – then it was Johnny not fitting in and
    • Finally – finally Johnny figured out how Gabe must have felt at the new school so he started to be friendlier to him.
  • Theme – the lesson, message or moral of the story
    • To have a friend you must be a friend first
    • Actions speak louder than words
  • Visualize – what do YOU picture…
    • Gabe was a new student that didn’t speak English. Johnny wasn’t nice to Gabe because he didn’t speak English. Visualize what you would do to help a new student in your classroom that didn’t speak English.
I hope there is something here that will help you create a meaningful lesson after reading this book.

Enter below to win a free signed copy of this wonderful book!

Giveaway happening 4/11/15-4/18/15 for a signed copy of Chocolate Milk, Por Favor! by Maria Desmondy at The Picture Book Teacher's Blog.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure to visit the remain stops on this exciting blog tour.

Today: Cate @ Sweet Nicks
April 12th: Barbara @ The Corner on Character
April 13th: Sylvia @ Learning With Mrs. Parker 
April 14th: Jodie @ Growing Book by Book: 
April 16th: Erin@ Kleinspiration 
Andrea @ JYJ Counselor Blog 
April 17th: Heather @ The Busy, Busy Hive 
April 18th: Kelly @ Mrs. Campbell’s Kids 

Happy Reading!


  1. I love this Shawna!!! You have really made a great lesson for Maria's book! Have you done this with her other books? I REALLY REALLY want to win a copy!! LOVE Maria Dismondy!!!

  2. Seriously, Shawna, you do the BEST book reviews with enrichment ideas ... EVER! How can I follow this up? Totally linking your ideas to my post tomorrow.

    Cape up and crusade on,

    The Corner On Character


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