Introduce Vocabulary: My School’s a Zoo (Smith)

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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: My School's a Zoo (Smith), 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 My School's a Zoo.

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.


Crammed means stuffed in a small space. What's the word?

Since everyone wanted to go to the top of the building, the elevator was crammed. If you have lots of school supplies in a small desk, they might be crammed together.

I'm going to name some spaces. If you think items would be stuffed in the space, say crammed. Otherwise, don't say anything. Just sit quietly. Ready?

  • A tiny closet with lots of clothes
  • A little car with a big family
  • A prairie with a few cows
  • The ocean with a small number of fish
  • An itty-bitty mailbox with lots of letters


Dreadful means awful and really bad. What's the word?

It was sad that the girl had a dreadful cold on her birthday. If you fall and skin your knees, you could say you had a dreadful day.

I'm going to name some activities. If you think the activity sounds really bad, say dreadful. Otherwise, don't say anything. Just sit quietly. Ready?

  • Getting teeth pulled at the dentist
  • Seeing your grandma
  • Going to a fun movie
  • Eating cake
  • Breaking your arm


Nauseous means sick to your stomach. What's the word?

Because she ate too much candy, the little girl felt nauseous. When you get the flu, you have a headache and you feel nauseous.

I'm going to name some activities. If you think you'd feel sick to your stomach doing the activity, say nauseous. Otherwise, don't say anything. Just sit quietly. Ready?

  • Sleeping in a comfortable bed
  • Watching TV on the couch
  • Riding in a small boat on a rough lake
  • Flying through the air on a wild carnival ride
  • Twirling in fast circles

wreaking havoc

Wreaking havoc means causing lots of trouble. What's the phrase?

The dad was mad when he came home and found that the house was a mess because the children had been wreaking havoc. If you break toys and act naughty, you are wreaking havoc.

I'm going to name some activities. If you think the activities cause a lot of trouble, say wreaking havoc. Otherwise, don't say anything. Just sit quietly. Ready?

  • Brushing the dog
  • Pulling the flowers out of the neighbor's garden
  • Cleaning your room
  • Ripping pillows open so that the feathers fall out
  • Spilling juice on the carpet


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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