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Introduce Vocabulary: Owen and Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship (Hatkoff

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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: Owen and Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship (Hatkoff & Kahumbu), board or chart paper.
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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 Owen and Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship.

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.


Anxious means scared or nervous. What’s the word?

The man was anxious on his first day at a new job. Would you be anxious if you had to go to a new school?

I’m going to name some words. If you think the word means nervous or scared, say anxious. Otherwise, stay quiet. Ready?

  • Confident
  • Ready
  • Fearful
  • Concerned
  • Worried


Bond means to form a friendship and become close to someone. What’s the word?

A puppy will bond with its new owner and want to be with him. At the beginning of the school year, you usually bond with a few classmates.

I’m going to name emotions. If you think you’d feel the emotion when you’ve formed a friendship with someone, say bond. Otherwise, stay quiet. Ready?

  • Happiness
  • Closeness
  • Anger
  • Frustration
  • Caring


Commotion means a lot of fuss and noise. What’s the word?

When the woman fell down the steps at the bank, it caused quiet a commotion. The teacher doesn’t appreciate it when you cause a commotion.

I’m going to name some events. If you think the event would cause a lot of fuss and noise, say commotion. Otherwise, stay quiet. Ready?

  • Students quietly reading
  • Zoo animals on the playground
  • A garbage truck that tips over
  • A baby sleeping
  • Soft music


Endure means to last for a long time even when things get difficult. What’s the word?

A man in a desert cannot endure very long without water. What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to endure?

I’m going to name some times. If you think you could last through the difficult time, say endure. Otherwise, stay quiet. Ready?

  • One month with no food or water
  • One day with no food or water
  • A very boring speech
  • No sleep for two weeks
  • A scary thunderstorm


Fend means to protect yourself or someone else from harm. What’s the word?

The baby bird had to fend for itself when the mama got lost in the storm. You probably help your mom fend for your little brother or sister.

I’m going to name some animals. If you think the animal needs to be protected from harm, say fend. Otherwise, stay quiet. Ready?

  • A ferocious tiger
  • A newborn deer
  • A puppy in a snowstorm
  • A chick
  • An adult hippopotamus


Inseparable means cannot be taken apart or separated. What’s the word?

My best friend and I are inseparable during the summer; we do everything together. If you had a twin, you might be inseparable.

I’m going to name some foods. If you think the foods are best together, or cannot be taken apart, say inseparable. Otherwise, stay quiet. Ready?

  • Peanut butter and jelly
  • Marshmallows and ketchup
  • Ham and eggs
  • Milk and cookies
  • Hamburger and orange juice


Intruder means someone who goes to a place where they are not welcome or wanted. What’s the word?

We lock our home when we’re not there to keep out intruders. Have you ever gone somewhere and felt like an intruder?

I’m going to name some people or animals. If you think the person or animal is in a place where they are not wanted, say intruder. Otherwise, stay quiet. Ready?

  • A fox in the chicken coop
  • A clown at a funeral
  • A crow in the garden, eating the corn
  • A mom and her kids at the grocery store
  • A shopper at the mall


Sanctuary means a safe place to stay. What’s the word?

The state government set aside a lake where birds can be safe; it’s called a sanctuary. Do you feel like your home is a sanctuary?

I’m going to name some animals and places. If you think the place is safe for the animal, say sanctuary. Otherwise, stay quiet. Ready?

  • A turtle on the highway
  • A fish on the beach
  • A gopher in a hole
  • A bird in a nest
  • A squirrel in a tree


Secure means safe. What’s the word?

It’s good to be back home, safe and secure. Where do you feel most secure?

I’m going to name some places. If you think a turtle would be safe in the place, say secure. Otherwise, stay quiet. Ready?

  • On the highway
  • In the ocean
  • In the forest
  • On the beach
  • On the school playground


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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