Roses Are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink by Diane deGroat - Teaching Ideas

Poor Gilbert! He had to eat alone at lunch and at recess everyone ignored him! How could his friends be so mean, especially on Valentine's Day? Unfortunately, Gilbert's problems all came about because of something he did. Gilbert wrote mean Valentine's cards to 2 of his classmates and then he didn't even sign his name on the cards, he wrote their names on the cards. Once Margaret and Lewis figured out that it was Gilbert that wrote the cards and wrote their names, everyone was mad at Gilbert. Thankfully, at the end of the day, his friend Patty asked why he did it. Gilbert finally explained that he wrote those mean things because Margaret was mean to him when she teased him about his glasses and Lewis was mean to him when the tweaked his nose. Margaret and Lewis never knew that the things they did hurt Gilbert's feelings. Now that everyone knew how each other felt, they all said sorry and had a wonderful Valentine's Day party, as friends.

This is a great Valentine's Day book with a great lesson! Listed below are the skills and strategies that you could use to create a meaningful lesson! I have created a Character Change freebie for you to use if your students need practice with this.

Reading level: 4.2
Theme: friendship, Valentine's Day
Genre: fiction, holiday fiction

Suggested Vocabulary: smiley eyes, tweaked

Reading skills and strategies:
  • Asking questions - {possible questions before} I wonder what the story is about. Did he get a card that said his feet really stink? {possible questions during} How come Gilbert didn't say that he wrote those cards? Why doesn't Gilbert say he is sorry? {possible questions after} I wonder why the teacher never did anything about the problem. **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} It is a silly title. Animals don't go to school or talk and they never have Valentine parties. This is a very entertaining book.
  • Beginning, middle, end - {most important event from beginning} Gilbert wrote poems to all his friends but wrote 2 mean poems to two people he thought were mean. {most important event from middle} Margaret figured out who wrote those cards. {most important event from end} Gilbert made new cards for Margaret and Lewis.
  • Cause and effect - Why did Gilbert have to write Valentine poems? Because it was Valentine's Day. Why did Gilbert write about Patty's eyes? Because he thought she had smiley eyes. Why did Gilbert write mean poems to Lewis and Margaret? Because Lewis tweaked his nose and Margaret teased him about his glasses. Why did Gilbert not sign his names on the mean cards? Because he did not want Margaret and Lewis to know that he wrote them. How come Gilbert smiled to himself when he opened his cards? Because they said nice things about him. How come Margaret and Lewis were not happy? Because they got cards that said mean things. How come the class had to work in their notebooks? Because Margaret and Lewis were fighting. Why did Margaret and Lewis figure out who wrote the cards? Because they each got two cards from each other and nothing from Gilbert. Why did Gilbert eat alone? Because everyone was mad at him. Why did Gilbert make new cards for Margaret and Lewis? Because he was sorry about writing the mean cards.
  • Character analysis - describe Gilbert {looks like, feelings, thoughts, character}
  • Character changes - (beginning) Gilbert was happy in the beginning, he like writing the Valentine's Day poems. (middle) Gilbert was sad because everyone was mad at him because of the mean poems he wrote to Margaret and Lewis. (end) Gilbert was happy again because he said sorry and they had a great Valentine's Day party.
  • Classify & categorize - Words to use in a Valentine's Day poem - nice words, mean words
  • Compare & contrast - Gilbert's Valentine's Day party to your Valentine's Day party or one Valentine's Day Card to another Valentine's Day card.
  • Connections - {possible text-to-self connections} Writing poems. Making Valentine's Day cards for kids in your class. Being left out because your friends are mad at you. Having someone write something mean about you.
  • Drawing conclusions & inferencing - Do you think Margaret and Lewis knew they hurt Gilbert's feelings when they tweaked his nose and teased him about his glasses? {text clues} Margaret and Lewis only said sorry to Gilbert when he said something about it.  {what I know} Sometime people do and say things in a joking way and don't realize that they are actually hurting someone's feelings. {my conclusion} I don't think Margaret and Lewis knew they hurt Gilbert's feelings because he never said anything.
  • Main idea & details - {main idea} Gilbert writing Valentine's Day cards, 2 of which were mean. {details} He wrote other students names on the cards because he didn't want them to know they came from him. Margaret and Lewis fought about the mean cards. Gilbert was alone and lunch and recess because his friends were mad that he wrote those mean cards.
  • Plot - the turning point or climax in the story was when Patty asked Gilbert why he did it.
  • Predict - What do you think the story is about? Did Gilbert write, "Roses are pink, your feet really stink" or did he get that? Do you think Margaret and Lewis will figure out who wrote those cards? What do you think they will do to Gilbert? Will Gilbert say he is sorry? How do you think Gilbert will fix this? What will Margaret and Lewis do once they find out why Gilbert wrote those mean cards to them? What do you think Gilbert will do at art time? Do you think the students will forgive Gilbert?
  • Problem & solution - {problem} Gilbert was alone at both lunch and recess. {solution} Patty finally asked Gilbert why he did it.
  • Sequencing - Gilbert wrote Valentine's Day cards. Gilbert writes 2 mean cards for Margaret and Lewis and signed each of their names on the cards. The kids read the cards in class. Gilbert was happy with his cards. Margaret and Lewis were not happy with their cards. Margaret and Lewis figured out who wrote those cards. Gilbert ate lunch by himself. Gilbert didn't have anyone to play with at recess. Patty asked Gilbert why he did it. Gilbert told her that Margaret and Lewis were mean to him. Margaret and Lewis both said sorry. Gilbert made new cards for Margaret and Lewis. They had a Valentine's Day party.
  • Story elements - list title, author, characters, setting, beginning, middle, end, or problem & solution.
  • Strong thought - Even though Gilbert thought Margaret and Lewis were mean to him, he shouldn't have written a mean poem to them. What would you say to Gilbert to explain why he should write something nice even to people that are mean.
  • Summarize - {someone} The class {needed} needed to write Valentine's Day poems for all  their classmates {but} but Gilbert thought 2 of his classmates were mean {so} so he decided to write mean poems to them. {then} Then, when Margaret and Lewis figured out who wrote the poems everyone got mad at Gilbert. {finally} Finally everyone said sorry.
  • Theme - Valentine's Day is about love, even to people you may not like. It is important to find the good in people. Saying something nice about someone makes them feel good.
  • Visualize - Visualize how Margaret and Lewis responded to each other when they thought they had each sent that mean poem. How would you have responded if you got a mean poem and you knew who sent it?

 Happy Reading!


  1. Hi Shawna,

    I picked this book up from the library to read to my class for Valentine's Day. So excited to see this post. Thank you for sharing your ideas and freebie. I'm on my way to download it.

    First Grade Schoolhouse

    1. It is a really cute book, your students will love it!
      Have fun!

  2. I just want to say THANK YOU for your blog! it is fantastic. I have pinned it on Pinterest and will be sharing is with my fellow teachers.

  3. I love this book! Your blog is a go to resource for me! Thanks a million!

    2nd Grade Ponderings

    1. Thanks Denise, I am glad I can help with ideas and planning!

  4. I love this book! Your blog is a go to resource for me! Thanks a million!

    2nd Grade Ponderings

  5. I was wondering where you get your clipart from? I like your borders. Thank you!
    Little Priorities

    1. Hi Lori,
      I create all my paper, borders, clipart and fonts, that way I don't have to worry about any copyright infringements.

  6. Thank you so much for your question ideas. I am going to use this book as a read aloud tomorrow. :)


Thoughts and comments are always welcome!