Gateway to the Classics: Primary Reading and Literature by
Primary Reading and Literature by 

Section II

An Alternate Plan

General Outline

Teach the vocabulary of "The Little Red Hen" and "The Gingerbread Boy" to page 24. Children should have at least two reading lessons daily from the blackboard and one each for word development and drill. These reading lessons from the board should consist of sentences in which all words taught are used as given in the book, but they may be in different arrangement from the sentences in book. Sentences printed with a sign printer, upon long strips of manila cardboard, the perception cards and word cards should be used also. About three weeks should be spent on the board work.

When all the words of "The Little Red Hen" story have been taught and read in sentences in this way, the children may read the story in the book. Continue in this way through the Primer. "The Gingerbread Boy" will usually take about two and one-half weeks. The Primer should ordinarily be finished before January. Then as many good supplementary readers should be read as possible, allowing time for the "Reading-Literature First Reader" to be read by the end of the first year.

In the Language period the teacher should take up the subject of wheat, find out what the pupils know, then adding to their knowledge by having illustrative materials such as sheaves of wheat, a flail, pictures of a mill, etc. The Gleaners is a good masterpiece to show in connection with this literature. The teacher should describe the processes through which wheat goes and what it is made into.

The First Reading Lesson

The teacher tells the story of "The Little Red Hen" to the children. She should keep the sentence form in the book but should enlarge and amplify the story between the sentences. This Primer version of the story has purposely been made very brief and simple. Allow the pupils to talk about the story and then say: "This all happened because the little red hen found a seed." Then have several children repeat, "The little red red hen found a seed." The teacher may then say: "My chalk will say it," and she writes, "The Little Red Hen found a seed."

The teacher reads it from the blackboard, sliding the pointer under the writing. Then ask other children to say it, always sliding the pointer underneath. Also, the teacher says, "I shall read it again and I want you to find where it says seed." She reads, pausing slightly before seed.  One child finds the word, places his hands around it, and tells what he found. Then several children do the same. The teacher says, "Would you know it if I wrote it here?" She writes seed  in various places on the board, children saying it each time. In passing to their seats, each pupil touches some part of the reading lesson and tells what it is.

Second Reading Lesson

The teacher says, "I am glad (then writes while saying)—The little red hen found a seed; for if she hadn’t (pointing to the words) found a seed, we shouldn’t have had this delightful story, and another thing, because (writing sentence again) The little red hen found a seed  we have learned so much about wheat and bread."

Now will you tell me what this sentence is? And what is this (pointing to the other just like first)?

Do you see anything in this sentence that looks like part of that sentence? Let’s read to ourselves and see what it is.

If this word is seed, show me another seed. 

If this is found, where is the other found? 

Where is The little red hen? 

Where else is The little red hen? 

The teacher says, "This hen must have had very sharp eyes to find the seed, for (teacher writes and says) 'It was a little seed,’ and though (writes again) 'It was a little seed,’ she knew it was good for something."

The teacher asks, "Who knows where it tells what kind of seed it was?" A pupil takes the pointer, slides it under the sentence and reads, It was a little seed.  "Where else does it say that?" Another pupil slides the pointer under the other sentence, reading, It was a little seed. 

"Do you see any word in one sentence that looks like a word in the other? Let us find out what it is. Read silently until you come to the word and then tell it."

If the word is seed, ask pupils to find seed in the sentence, The little red hen found a seed. 

If no pupil responds to the teacher’s request, she might say, "I see seed  here. Do you see seed  in that sentence?"

In closing this lesson a game called "Clean House" is great fun and affords another opportunity of re-reading the sentences. A pupil takes an eraser, goes to the board, tells a sentence he chooses to clean off, and then erases it. Another follows in the same way. This is done until the sentences are all cleaned off.

Any device that secures interested attention upon words and sentences and activity on the part of pupils is good.

The Third Lesson

Commence with a short word-drill on seed, hen, found, little, and wheat.  Then write such sentences as these upon the board:

The hen found a seed.

The little hen found a seed.

The hen found a little seed.

The hen found the seed.

The red hen found the wheat seed.

The hen found the little wheat seed.

The little hen found the seed. 

After children have read the sentences, the teacher says, "Find every place it says seed."  A child takes pointer, runs to the board and every time he points to seed  he must say the word so his classmates hear him. Another pupil finds the word hen  as often as he can, and so on.

Fourth Lesson

The is planned to give word drill on it  and was, reviewing other words of previous lesson by means of a game.

Write one word at a time upon the board, asking pupils to give it, until the eight words are written. One child is then told to stand in a corner with his back to the class, covering both eyes with his hands. Another pupil is given a pointer and told to point to one of these words. When this has been done, the teacher says, "All right, John," and John, who is in the corner, comes back, takes the pointer and says, pointing to a word, "Is it hen?" Class responds, "It is not hen." Then he says, "Is it little?" If it is, the others reply, "Yes, it is little," and they clap. If John doesn’t find the word in three guesses, the others say, "It is red." Then John points to red  and pronounces it.

If he can’t find red, another pupil might show him where it is.

Then the pupils are ready to read from the board such sentences as these, re-arranged from the story, but not contradictory to the story.

The hen found the seed.

It was the little seed.

It was the little wheat seed.

The hen found the little wheat seed.

Was it the little red hen?

It was the little red hen. 

Fifth Lesson

The teacher says, "I wonder how much you can read of this story." She writes,

The little red hen found a seed.

It was a little seed. 

Then she produces the two sentences printed upon manila cardboard and says, "Can you take the printed sentence which says, It was a little seed, and hold it under the same sentence at the board?

"Who can match this one?" holding up the other card, The little red hen found a seed. 

"Tell what it says. Show me seed  here. Show me seed  on the board. Show me which part says, The little red hen.  Where is it on the board?

"Show me found  on this paper; now at the board." Each time a child finds a word on phrase or sentence he should be required to tell it to the class.

Then take the perception cards, hen, little, red, etc.  Have pupils match each to the printed word in the sentence. Match each to the written word on the board.

This time in the game "Clean House" each child might erase but a word or phrase.

Sixth Lesson

The teacher says, "What did the little red hen say when she found the seed?"

A pupil—"The little red hen said, Who will plant the seed?" 

The teacher writes the sentence and then says, "Find The little red hen.  Find seed.  Which part says, Who will plant the seed?  Read to yourselves until you find plant.  Where is plant, John?"

John takes the pointer and points to plant. 

"Read to yourselves until you find who.  Show it to me, Mary."

Mary points to who. 

The teacher says, "Who said (then writes) Not I?" 

A child—"The pig."

Then teacher makes it read, The pig said, "Not I." 

Then a pupil reads the whole sentence.

"Who else said, ‘Not I’ "? 

A pupil says, "The cat."  The teacher writes The cat said  before Not I. 

Then the teacher says, "Who else wouldn’t work?"

Pupil—"The dog." 

Teacher—"What did he say?"

Pupil—"Not I."

The teacher then writes, "The dog said, ‘Not I.’ " 

The teacher says, "Which sentence says, ‘The cat said, Not I’?  Which part says, ‘Not I’?  Show me some more Not I’s."  This should be easily recognized by pupils if the teacher has been very careful to write all these similar groups one below another.

Teacher—"Which word is cat?  Where is said?  Show me another said, and another."

The other sentences should be dealt with in a similar way. In concluding the lesson use the "Clean-House" game.

Seventh Lesson

As part of the phonic lesson a short drill on the words already studied should be given each day, but sometimes it is well to sharpen the children’s wits with a short drill just before the reading lesson.

For example, What did the (teacher writes and speaks) cat  say?

Child—"Not I."

The teacher writes that under cat.  Pointing the words, the teacher says, "Who else said, ‘Not I’?"

Child—"The dog."

The teacher writes dog under not I. 

Teacher—"Who else refused to work?"

Child—"The pig."

Teacher writes pig under dog. 

Then she reviews the whole sentence, Who will plant the seed?  by saying, "What did the hen say when the pig said, ‘Not I’?"

Now rearrange the sentences like this and write them upon the board:

"Who will plant the seed?" said the little red hen.

"Not I," said the cat.

"Not I," said the pig.

"Not I," said the dog. 

Have the children find all the places it says Not I, said, I.  Find pig, cat, dog, plant,  etc.

Eighth Lesson

The teacher writes, The little red hen said, "Who will plant the wheat?" 

A child reads the sentence. Then she writes, The pig said, "Not I." 

Another child reads this, and so on until she has written what is on page four. The last sentence is new, but it almost teaches itself. Then the children play "Match," that is, matching the printed sentences which the teacher has prepared with the written sentences upon the board. Then find the separate words and match the printed words to the written words upon the blackboard and to the separate words in the printed sentences.

By this time the pupils should be familiar with the seven different sentences.

A new game can now be played. It is called "Draw." The teacher holds the printed sentences face down in her hand. Each child draws from her hand a sentence and studies it.

The teacher says, "Sentences over!" which means that the pupils turn the cards face down in their laps and fold their hands. She chooses one pupil at a time to stand before the class, hold his long strip so the pupils can read it, too, and he tells them what his sentence says. If there are not enough sentences to go around, the rest of the class "draw" after this first group have read. This game affords another opportunity for review, but unless there be spice and the spirit of play in the work, review so early does not appeal to the pupils.

From now on the number of sentences grows quite rapidly and each pupil will soon have a different sentence.

This same game can be played with the separate words.

These games and devices are good all through the story of "The Gingerbread Boy."

With the Gingerbread story the phonic drills should begin and they should be followed as outlined in previous pages.


Do not permit pupils to "read until they make a mistake." Emphasis should not be placed upon words alone, but upon the thought of the sentence. Class criticism which runs to mere fault-finding should not be permitted. An atmosphere of helpfulness and sympathy is what is needed. It is generally better for the teacher to make the criticisms. If the pupil reads too poorly to go on, require him to study the work, and get ready for the oral reading. Say to him, "You haven’t the thought, better look again." If he gives the thought correctly but not in the words of the book, say to him, "You have the thought, but exactly how does the book give it?"

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