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Patterns #2: The Rose in My Garden, by Arnold Lobel and Anita Lobal (Cumulative Pattern)

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Lesson Overview:

In this lesson, students explore another language pattern.  The Lobels’ breathtaking story uses a cumulative A, AB, ABC, ABCD, ABCDE, etc., pattern to paint the picture of a perfect flower garden, until the cat and mouse show up!  Introduce your students to a new language pattern while also teaching them the name of many popular flowers.  Perfect for springtime when buds and blossoms abound!

Lesson Plan:

Suggested Grades:



Students will learn to recognize the cumulative A, AB, ABC, ABCD, ABCDE, etc. language pattern of the poem.  Students will be able to give an example of other cumulative language patterns and write their own cumulative language pattern stories.

Suggested Time:

40-45 minutes

Success Criteria:

Each student will take part in a casual performance of The Rose in My Garden by Arnold Lobel and Anita Lobel.  Students will identify other poems and songs with similar patterns.

Lesson Outline:

1. Introduction:

Ask the children to tell you a few things they have learned about patterns so far.  Ask them if they remember The Crocodile and the Dentist by Taro Gomi.  What simple (but ingenious!) pattern did that story follow?  (Answer:  A,A; B,B; C,C; etc.)  Tell the children that today they will learn another language pattern and they will also get to have some fun with some of their favorite flowers!

2. Main:

Teach The Rose in my Garden by Arnold Lobel and Anita Lobel.  Read the story through the first time, making sure that the kids understand what the author and illustrator are doing.  Show pictures of all the flowers if the children are unfamiliar with them.  Use a flip chart, chalk board, or interactive screen to explain the A, AB, ABC, ABCD, ABCDE pattern.

Once the kids understand the cumulative and repetitive pattern, ask them if they are ready to have a little fun!  If you can, prepare pictures and word strips of the following story elements:

  1. Rose
  2. Bee
  3. Hollyhocks
  4. Marigolds
  5. Zinnias
  6. Daisies
  7. Bluebells
  8. Lilies
  9. Peonies
  10. Pansies
  11. Tulips
  12. Sunflowers
  13. Field Mouse
  14. Cat

As you reread the story, have children come to the front and hold the signs or pictures.  Each time the story adds a new element, add another child who comes to the front.  You are literally building the story, one element at a time.

The children will begin to repeat the words.  I like to stand behind the kids in the line and place my hand on their heads when it is their turn to say the name of their flower.  This way, the kids get to repeat the name of their flower over and over.  Children in the audience can be additional mice with one cat at the end!  That way everyone can have a part.

Act the poem out at least once.  If there is extra time, let the kids switch parts.  Mice get to be flowers, flowers get to be in the audience, and the child who played the rose can take a smaller part.   It’s fun to switch things around and let the students play with the poem and the pattern.

3. Conclusion:

Ask the students if they know of any other poem, story, or song that uses the same cumulative pattern.   They should be able to come up with “I Know an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly,” “This is the House that Jack Built,” or “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

Challenge the students to write their own stories that follow this language pattern.  Their own stories do not have to be about flowers or gardens!  They can furnish a tree house, build a playground, or populate a zoo one step at a time.  If time allows, sketch the outline of the new cumulative class tale together.

  1. The Rose in my Garden by Arnold and Anita Lobel.
  2. Pictures of each type of flower mentioned in the story, printed. (Optional but helpful and easy to find on Google Images.)
  3. Names of each of the types of flowers, printed large enough for the class to read easily in a group, and cut apart into word strips.
  4. Wikipedia articles, “Cumulative tale,” and “Cumulative song,” for background information.

If the children like the poem and learn it well enough, they could perform it in an assembly to share their learning.  You can also extend this lesson by having them color or draw flowers to make a floral board.

Usually, my teachers are grateful for any activity that gives their kids an opportunity to write.  It is rare that I issue a writing challenge that the kids don’t follow up on.  If you are liking the Unit of Inquiry, in this case patterns, teachers are usually very grateful for the support.

Recommended books for this lesson:
  1. The Rose in My Garden by Arnold Lobel and Anita Lobel.
  2. There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly by Pam Adams.
  3. The Twelve Days of Christmas (many versions available.)
Key Terms:

Patterns, Poetry, Songs, Flowers, Gardens, Cumulative Tales, Cumulative Songs