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Patterns #3: Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book, by Julia Donaldson (Nesting Pattern)

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Lesson Overview:

In this lesson, students learn to recognize the “nesting” language pattern.  Building on the patterns they identified in previous lessons, they will find that this pattern is a bit more challenging to discover and name!

Lesson Plan:

Suggested Grades:



Each student will identify and describe the language pattern found in Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book by Julia Donaldson and Alex Scheffler.  (AASL 4.1.2, “Read widely and fluently to make connections with self, the world, and previous reading.”)

Suggested Time:

40-45 minutes

Success Criteria:

Each student will understand and be able to explain the concept of “nesting.”  Students will also find out their friends’ favourite books and make a quick list or tally sheet to show what they have learned.

Lesson Outline:

1. Introduction:

Ask the students to tell you the language patterns that they remember from previous lessons.  To refresh your memory, those are:

The Crocodile and the Dentist:  A:A, B:B, C:C, D:D – Repetitive pattern

The Rose in My Garden:  A, AB, ABC, ABCD, ABCDE – Cumulative pattern

Explain that today’s story uses a different pattern and that they will have to try to figure out what it is.  This story is much harder to figure out!  Listen and watch carefully.  Ask the kids to pick up paper and a pencil if they want to try to make a story map to help themselves figure out the pattern (but don’t scribe it for them this time.)

2. Main:

Teach/Read Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book by Julia Donaldson and Alex Scheffler.  The book is rich in detail, especially the illustrations.  Some teachers have not noticed, but the first double page spread in which we see Charlie reading in the armchair is filled with references to the story that follows.  Looking carefully, you can see some of the characters that appear later.  Don’t tell the kids and give it away, just ask them to look closely.  The dragon, astronaut, ghost, cake, birds, knight, frog, and the three bears are all cleverly hidden.

Once you are sure that the children understand the story, ask them what kind of language pattern is used in the book.  They will say “rhyming” but we are after much more than rhyming.  Rhyming has to do with word choice, but there is a definite language pattern.

The kids will probably say something along the lines of, “It’s a book inside a book inside another book inside another book.”  The term for this pattern that I like to teach is “nesting.”  The stories “nest” or fit closely together one inside another.

To make this point you might want to bring in some nested mixing bowls, measuring cups,  or, if you have one, a Russian nesting doll.  (Photos easily available on Google Images.)

Once they understand the “nesting” concept, read the book a second time.  If they want to, they can make a story map easily.  This time, you can scribe one for them.  I like to simply draw either rectangles inside one another with the name of each book/story.  Or, you can also draw open books sitting atop one another.  (See photos).  Both simple drawings get at the idea of “nesting.”

If there is time, please ask the children to collect the titles of the favourite books of five of their friends.  They can make a simple list or tally sheet to show you, and this can easily be done on the back of the “nested” story map.

3. Conclusion:

Bring the class back together for a quick wrap-up.  Remind them that so far, they have looked at three language patterns.  We saw a repetitive pattern, a cumulative pattern, and now a nested pattern.  What kind of language pattern do you think that we will discover next week?  There are definitely more to discover!

  1. Paper and pencils to make the story map and collect data for the tally. (Pass these out later. Just let the kids listen and think at first.)
  2. More lesson ideas for this picture book can be found here: http://www.teachingideas.co.uk/library/books/charlie-cooks-favourite-book
  3. Colouring page from Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book: (optional) http://www.gruffalo.com/activities/activities/charlie-cook-s-favourite-book-colouring-sheet
  4. Julia Donaldson’s website – it’s filled with great stuff! http://www.juliadonaldson.co.uk/index.php

You’ll be having so much fun with Charlie Cook that the kids might forget that this lesson, as well as the others in this unit, have a strong Unit of Inquiry tie.  Be sure to emphasize the language pattern and make sure that you link to Unit of Inquiry concepts.

When I‘ve taught this lesson series, teachers have loved that I have worked with language patterns.  Their material typically does not cover language patterns, yet these lessons are a perfect complement to what they are doing in the classroom.

If the teachers are open to the idea, you can also challenge the children to write a “nested” story themselves.  I am certain that they can do it.

Recommended books for this lesson:
  1. Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book by Julia Donaldson and Alex Scheffler.
Key Terms:

Patterns, Poetry, Rhymes, Stories in Rhyme, Nesting Patterns


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