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Introduce Vocabulary: Swimmy (Lionni)

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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: Swimmy (Lionni), board or chart paper

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 Swimmy.

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.


Fierce means mean and scary. What’s the word?

Though the lion looked fierce, with its long teeth and claws, it was actually very gentle. You’ve probably never been called fierce.

I’m going to name some animals. If you think the animal is mean and scary, say fierce. Otherwise, stay quiet. Ready?

  • A lamb
  • A calf
  • A grizzly bear protecting its cubs
  • A hungry wolf
  • A kitten


Marvel means something that is just amazing. What’s the word?

The girl was so good at gymnastics that people were calling her a marvel. When you see something wonderful you might call it a marvel.

I’m going to name some things. If you think the thing is just amazing, say marvel. Otherwise, stay quiet. Ready?

  • A tuna fish sandwich
  • A rock on the ground
  • A beautiful, complete rainbow
  • A whale jumping out of the ocean
  • A huge fantastic city seen from an airplane


Midday means in the middle of the day. What’s the word?

The plumber said he’d be here to fix our sink at midday but he didn’t come until late afternoon. You usually have something to eat at midday.

I’m going to name some events. If you think the event happens in the middle of the day, say midday. Otherwise, stay quiet. Ready?

  • Lunch
  • Noon
  • The sun is high in the sky
  • You go to bed
  • The sun sets


Sway means to move back and forth gently. What’s the word?

The thin tree sways in the wind. When you hear a favorite song, you might sway in time to the music.

I’m going to name some words. If you think the word means to move back and forth gently, say sway. Ready?

  • Lean
  • Swing
  • Stand
  • Rock
  • Stiff


Swift means fast. What’s the word?

Some birds move so fast they are actually called Swifts. You have to move swiftly to catch a firefly.

I’m going to name some words. If you think the word means fast, say swift. Otherwise, stay quiet. Ready?

  • Quick
  • Sudden
  • Rapid
  • Slow
  • Long


For Advanced Students:

If time permits, have students create more examples of 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 to help students learn the words.

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