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Circular Stories, Sequencing
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Language Arts
Circular Stories, Sequencing
by Charity Bonelli

Language Arts Lesson: comprehension, sequencing, circular story format

Grade Level: Kindergarten-First Grade


1. Students will demonstrate understanding of the circular story format by creating a circular, sequential graphic organizer for the story If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff.

2. Students will write their own circle stories using the prompt "If you give a ______ a ______."

Initiation: Begin by drawing a circle on a large piece of paper. Ask, "Does anyone know what I am drawing?" Most students will see that it is a circle. "How do you know?" Discuss the difference between a line and a circle and make the point that a circle ends at the same place it began. Relate this point to different types of stories. Some stories begin with one event and end with a different one, but others begin with one event and work their way back to the same place. Ask the students to think of examples of linear and circular stories or have them try to categorize stories they have read in class. Tell them that they will be hearing a circle story, a story that ends in the same place it begins.


1. Read the first page of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Ask, "Where does this story begin?" Have students predict where it will end. Continue with the story, pausing to have students predict what might happen next. For example, what might happen when the mouse asks to hear a story?

2. Briefly discuss why we call this a "circle story." Point out that each event leads to the next until we return to the starting point.

3. Tell students that they are going to play a game. Spread out a set of cards with scenes and objects from the story. "Who can tell me which one comes first?" Have students come up and tape the cards onto the circle (drawn earlier) in the appropriate order. Support them in using logic to make connections between the events. Younger students may have to hear the story again and place the cards on the circle as they listen. Have one or two students try to retell the story using the graphic organizer as a guide.

4. In small groups or as a class, depending on ability level, have the students write their own circle story(s). Give them the prompt, "If you give a _____ a _____..." Have them supply an animal and food and work from there, adding at least five events and working back to the original prompt.

Closure: Have the students share their story(s) and, if possible, illustrate and publish them. Review the characteristics of a circle story.

Evaluation: Students will be evaluated on their ability to create an accurate graphic organizer. They should be able to demonstrate the cyclical nature of the story using the circle and story cards. Their original stories will also be evaluated. If they really understand the concept of a circle story, their stories will end in the same place they began and have logical connections between events.

Supplemental activity: If the students have difficulty with the first activity, do not proceed to the second activity. Instead, have them try again with another story. Numeroff has written two other cyclical stories, If You Give a Pig a Pancake and If You Give a Moose a Muffin. Students may need to hear these types of stories a few times before they see the pattern.

Materials: Large paper, markers, any story by Laura Joffe Numeroff with accompanying story cards (Pick out key scenes and objects and draw them on the cards.), materials for creative writing, tape.

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