Book of the Week: How Animal Babies Stay Safe

Every Monday, I highlight a book from our school bookroom along with lesson plan suggestions. I hope you find this useful, and please leave a comment with any suggestions or additions!

How Animal Babies Stay Safe, by Mary Ann Fraser

You can see a Google Books preview of this book here.

Author/illustrator Mary Ann Fraser blogs pretty regularly. It’s always neat to see into an illustrator’s process, so you should check it out.

There is a lesson for first graders included with this mentor text. It includes suggested conversation ideas along with page numbers. The question prompts are also included as labels stuck to pages throughout the book. The included lesson focuses on these standards:

  • 1.5 Locates Information
  • 2.1 Comprehends important ideas and details
  • 2.1.2 Summarizes a simple text with guidance
A brief aside: WHY is it that when humans are featured as minor characters in a book about some totally different topic they are almost always straight-haired blonde/brunette white folks? This book was written in 2002. I wish there were more non-white characters in books that weren’t just about “issues.” See rad Michigan educator Colby Sharp’s views on this matter here.

Anyways. This book would work perfectly with The Bird Lady, a Level J guided reading text available in our bookroom. The information section in the back talks about what humans do when animals lose their support system, and Bird Lady is a critter rehabilitator.

There is also a CAFE menu included with this mentor text, and I’ve highlighted these as suggested lessons:


  • Monitor and Fix Up. If you follow the lesson plan included, you will create a chart showing the different ways animals carry, protect, and provide shelter for their young. You can explain that this graphic organizer can help you monitor your comprehension — if you notice that you haven’t recorded anything in a page or two, there’s a chance that you missed some key information.
  • Recognize and explain cause and effect relationships. The book discusses many different actions that animals take to take care of their babies, all with the effect of keeping them safe. Talk with students about the idea that a cause (i.e. a crocodile putting her babies in her mouth) can also be an effect (A predator had to cause the crocodile to put the babies in her mouth in the first place). At the end of the book, Fraser talks about why it is that animals are so keen to protect their young. This could be used to explore the idea that although there are many smaller causes and effects in the book, they all fit under the overarching idea of protecting young animals.

Expand Vocabulary

  • Use prior knowledge and context to predict and confirm meaning. The lesson plan included in the book bag features a conversation about the word “instinct.”

Please add any lessons or supplemental materials to the book bag so future teachers can utilize your good thinking!

Comments and constructive feedback are always welcomed. Please let me know if these lessons were useful in your class!


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