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Introduce Vocabulary: An Earthworm’s Life (Himmelman)

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Lesson Type: Introduce
Grade: K, 1, 2, 3
Group Size: Small Group, Whole Class
Length: 20 minutes
Goal: After listening to a fiction read-aloud, students will know the meaning of three Tier Two vocabulary words.

Materials: An Earthworm’s Life (Himmelman), board or chart paper

What to Do


Select three Tier Two vocabulary words to teach your students. A list of suggested words appears below. Write the vocabulary words on the board or on chart paper.


1. Introduce the story.

Today we are going to read a story entitled An Earthworm’s Life.

2. Introduce the three vocabulary words you have chosen.

Before we read the story, I want to introduce some new words that we will come across. Please repeat each word after I say it.

3. Read the story.

Let’s read the story. Make sure to listen for today’s vocabulary words and to think about how they are used in the story. If you hear a vocabulary word while I am reading, raise your hand.

4. Define key vocabulary words. See definitions below.

Let’s think about our vocabulary words. The word ______________ means ____________. Does anyone remember how this word was used in the text?

Call on students to answer the question. Then refer to the text to show how the word was used in context. Repeat this process for each vocabulary word.


Now let’s practice what we’ve learned.


Bulge means to stick out. What’s the word?

The earth is not perfectly round: it bulges in the middle. When you have your hat and mittens stuffed in your coat pocket, your coat bulges.

I’m going to name some things. If you think the thing sticks out, say bulge. Otherwise, stay quiet. Ready?

  • A balloon hidden under your shirt
  • A skinny snake after he’s eaten a big meal
  • A piece of string
  • Your cheek with a big piece of gum in it
  • A pencil


Burrow means a hole in the ground that animals live in. What’s the word?

A mouse can stay warm in its burrow in cold weather. If you make a big pile of blankets and pillows, you can pretend to be an animal in its burrow.

I’m going to name some animals. If you think the animal digs a hole in the ground to live in, say burrow. Otherwise, stay quiet. Ready?

  • Snake
  • Horse
  • Cow
  • Gopher
  • Groundhog


Journey means a trip or the act of going from one place to another. What’s the word?

A trip to the zoo is only a one-day journey, but a trip to the seashore is a much longer journey. When your parents take you on a journey, they might let you pack snacks and books for the ride.

I’m going to name some places. If children in your school could take a trip to the place, say journey. Otherwise, stay quiet. Ready?

  • The moon
  • The zoo
  • Grandma’s house
  • Mars
  • New York City


Roots means the part of a plant that grow underground that the plant uses to get water and nutrition. What’s the word?

Without roots, a plant would wilt and fall over. You don’t have roots, so you can move around to get your food and water.

I’m going to name some living things. If you think the thing takes nutrition and water from the ground, say roots. Otherwise, stay quiet. Ready?

  • A pine tree
  • A goldfish in a bowl
  • A bird in a cage
  • A butterfly
  • A daisy


Soil means the dirt that plants grow in. What’s the word?

Good soil is very important to grow healthy food. You don’t get your nutrition from soil, but from the plants you eat that grew in the soil.

I’m going to name some items. If you think the item is found in the dirt where plants grow, say soil. Otherwise, stay quiet. Ready?

  • Pebbles
  • Fallen leaves
  • Water
  • A clown
  • A telephone


Underground means under the dirt. What’s the word?

Lots of bugs live underground. When you dig with a shovel, you are going underground.

I’m going to name some animals. If you think they may go beneath the dirt sometimes, say underground. Otherwise, stay quiet. Ready?

  • Giraffe
  • Buffalo
  • Cows
  • Mouse
  • Rat


For Advanced Students:

If time permits, have students create more examples for the vocabulary words.

For Struggling Students:

If time permits, have students record the words on a Vocabulary Discovery Chart or in a Word Journal.

For ELL Students:

In order to help ELL students learn the words, it may be helpful to use realia and/or to teach cognates.

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