The Lonely Scarecrow by Tim Preston - Teaching Ideas

This is a wonderful tale about a scarecrow that longs for the company of the little animals he sees playing in the distance. The little animals are afraid of the scarecrow because of how he looks, so they stay as far away from him as possible. As winter comes to town and blankets the land and the scarecrow with a beautiful white coating, the little animals come to play on the snowman that has taken the scarecrows place. What the animals don't  realize is that the snowman is really the scarecrow. The scarecrow is so happy to have the company of all the little animals but he is also very nervous for the day the snow melts and he scares the little animals away. The day the snow starts to melt, he is pleasantly surprised to see the animals not running away from him. The animals are also surprised to find that their happy snowman is really the scary scarecrow, they don't run away because they realize that the scarecrow is not what they thought.

Here are some reading skills and strategies that will help you make a lesson to use with this book.

Reading level: 3.5
Theme/Subject: feelings, friendship
Genre: fiction

Suggested Vocabulary Words & Phrases: cornflowers, flapping coat, beady eyes, swaying wheat, lark, marooned, combine monster, harvest, churning jaws, ravaged, stubble, sly breeze, nestle in the folds

Reading skills and strategies:
  • asking questions - {possible questions before} I wonder what the story is going to be about? I wonder why the scarecrow is so lonely? {possible questions during} I wonder why the animals are so scared of the scarecrow?  I wonder if the animal will ever go to the scarecrow? I wonder why the animals didn't know the snowman was the scarecrow? {possible questions after} I wonder if the animals will come play with the scarecrow all the time now?
**Remember to have your students answer/reflect their questions.
  • author's point of view - 3rd person. Be sure to find 3 pieces of evidence to support this.
  • author's purpose - entertain {evidence} Scarecrows don't have feelings. Scarecrows and animals don't usually play.
  • beginning, middle, end - {most important event from beginning} The scarecrow was lonely because the animals wouldn't come play with him. {most important event from middle} It started to snow and covered the scarecrow to look like a snowman. {most important event from end} The animals played with the snowman and saw that the snowman was the scarecrow when the snow melted.
  • cause and effect - Why was the scarecrow lonely? because he was scary looking. Why did the scarecrow loose sight of the animals? because the wheat in the field kept growing taller and taller. Why did the animals play on the snowman? because they didn't know it was the scary scarecrow. Why was the scarecrow afraid of what would happen when the snow melted? because he was afraid the animals would run away. Why did the animals not run away? because they realized that the scarecrow was not scary.
  • character analysis - describe scarecrow {looks like, feelings, thoughts, character}
  • character changes - scarecrow was very lonely at the beginning of the story and at the end he was very happy. What happened in the story to change scarecrows feeling?
  • compare & contrast - scarecrows and snowmen
  • connections - {possible text-to-self connections} Feeling lonely or left out. {possible text-to-text connections} The Witch Next Door by Norman Bridwell and The Lonely Scarecrow by Tim Preston. They both have people/animals judging what they are like before they get to know them. The witches neighbors think she is evil and mean because of the way she looks and the animals think scarecrow is scary because of they way he looks.
  • main idea & details - {main idea} The story is mostly about a very lonely scarecrow. {details} The animals won't come play with him. He gets buried in the deep wheat fields and can no longer watch the animals play.
  • plot - the turning point or climax in the story is when it starts to snow. The snow makes the scarecrow look like a jolly snowman. The animals play with the snowman. When the snow melts the animals are no longer afraid of the snowman.
  • predict - What do you think the story is going to be about? Will the animals ever play with the scarecrow? Will the scarecrow ever be happy?
  • problem & solution - {problem} The scarecrow was lonely because all the animals thought he was scary looking. {solution} The weather changed and covered the scarecrow with snow. He now looked like a jolly snowman so the animals came to play with him. When the snow melted the animals realized that the scarecrow was not scary like they thought.
  • sequencing - Scarecrow was lonely. Scarecrow watched all the animals play and was sad. It snowed and covered scarecrow. Scarecrow looked like a snowman. The animals came to play with the snowman. The snow melted and revealed that the snowman was the scarecrow. The animals didn't run away. The scarecrow was no longer lonely.
  • story elements - list title, author, character's, setting, beginning, middle, end, or problem & solution.
  • summarize - {someone} Scarecrow {wanted} wanted friends {but} but they were all afraid of him {so} so he was very sad. {then} It started to snow and he looked like a snowman all covered in snow. {finally} Finally the animals came to play with the snowman and when the snow melted the animals realized the scarecrow was not scary. 
  • theme - never judge a book by its cover.

Happy fall!

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