Grade 3: A Close Reading of THE JUNKYARD WONDERS by Patricia Polacco


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Reading Literature

RL.3.1 Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.

RL.3.2 Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.

RL.3.3 Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.

RL.3.7 Explain how specific aspects of a text’s illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story (e.g., create mood, emphasize aspects of a character or setting)


W.3.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

W.3.4 With guidance and support from adults, produce writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task and purpose.


This Grade 3 lesson titled “A Close Reading of THE JUNKYARD WONDERS by Patricia Polacco” from CPALMS Lesson Plan Development Initiative has an ELA/Literacy instructional time of 3 hours. In this close reading lesson students identify and analyze characters’ problems, feelings, actions, and motivations to determine the essential message, or lesson, the author wants readers to learn. During the first read of this story, students annotate the text with the teacher’s guided instruction. The following reads include guided and independent practice with opportunities for teacher feedback. At the end of the lesson, in an explanatory essay, students demonstrate their ability to recount the story and to uncover the essential message.


Connecticut teachers should be aware that the lesson plan lists its standards with Florida labels; while the standards listed above use the Common Core labeling, the wording remains the same. The teacher notes and preparation materials will require familiarity to be used effectively. Although there is a reading response rubric, the use of a common core-aligned rubric that elicits direct, observable evidence of the degrees to which students can independently demonstrate the targeted standards listed above is suggested. Materials are included in the lesson plan attachments; however, the teacher will have to secure a copy of THE JUNKYARD WONDERS by Patricia Polacco.


This lesson is a good example of how to focus on challenging sections of a complex literary text. It engages students in a productive struggle through text-dependent questions and other supports that gradually build toward independence. The lesson plan addresses instructional expectations and is easy to understand and use. Materials include: a detailed lesson plan, learning objectives, prior knowledge students will need, guiding questions, and multiple quality attachments that enhance the lesson activities.