Grade 1: Two Bad Ants by Chris Van Allsburg


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Reading Literature

RL.1.1 Ask and answer questions about key details in a text.

RL.1.2 Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson.

RL.1.3 Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details.

RL.1.4 Identify words and phrases in stories or poems that suggest feelings or appeal to the senses.

RL.1.7 Use illustrations and details in a story to describe its characters, setting, or events.


W.1.2 Write opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic or name the book they are writing about, state an opinion, supply a reason for the opinion, and provide some sense of closure.

W.1.8 With guidance and support from adults, recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.

Speaking & Listening

SL.1.1 Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 1 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

SL.1.2 Ask and answer questions about key details in a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.

SL.1.3 Ask and answer questions about what a speaker says in order to gather additional information or clarify something that is not understood.

SL.1.4 Describe people, places, things, and events with relevant details, expressing ideas and feelings clearly.

SL.1.5 Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.

SL.1.6 Produce complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation.


L.1.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 1 reading and content, choosing flexibly from an array of strategies.

L.1.6 Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts, including using frequently occurring conjunctions to signal simple relationships (e.g., because).


This Grade 1 lesson set titled “Two Bad Ants” by Chris Van Allsburg from the Long Beach Unified School District on has a recommended instructional time of two ELA/Literacy sessions of at least 20 minutes per day for eight days. Students will listen to a well-written picture book read aloud and use literacy skills (reading, writing, discussion and listening), with attention to vocabulary and illustrations, to understand the central message. As a culminating activity, with guidance and support from adults, students record the adjectives that describe the two ants’ feelings throughout the story on a prewriting recording sheet. They draw pictures, write what the ants are thinking, and then choose transition words.  Using their prewriting recording sheet and a story frame, students write how the two ants’ feelings changed throughout the story.


Connecticut teachers should be cautioned that the Common Core Standard RL.1.7 was mislabeled as L.1.7 in the original lesson document, but it is corrected in the above list.  While assessment guidelines are provided, teachers may want to create an aligned rubric for the targeted standards for easier recordkeeping. Depending on the variability of students, additional scaffolding may be necessary.


The exemplary lesson set addresses all key shifts in the CCSS: Reading Text Closely, Text-Based Evidence, Writing from Sources, and Academic Vocabulary. It provides all students with opportunities to engage with a text of appropriate complexity for the grade level.  It includes a clear and explicit purpose for instruction as it cultivates student interest and engagement in reading, writing, and speaking about a text. Ongoing teacher observation included throughout the lesson set elicits direct, observable evidence of the degree to which each student is mastering the standards-based content and skills. The lesson plan provides many good teaching tips, including a document titled “What Makes this Read-Aloud Complex.”