What Happened on Pa Lia's First Day?
by Judie Haynes
On her first day in a new school Pa Lia felt alone and wanted to make friends. This thematic unit will help students discuss feelings about their first day in a new school and the difficulties of making new friends.
On her first day in a new school Pa Lia couldn't find her classroom, was knocked down by a bully, and got into trouble for passing notes. Pa Lia felt alone and was afraid she wouldn't make new friends. Use this lesson plan for a unit on friendship or feelings. It can also provide the background for a discussion on how to welcome new students into the class.
Making friends, feeling alone
This is a beginning chapter book suitable for intermediate ESL students at the end of second grade through the beginning of fourth.
Goal and Standard
Goal 2, Standard 2: To use English to achieve academically in all content areas
Content Concepts and Skills
- How feelings affect behavior
- Making new friends
- Understanding figurative language in English
- Developing social skills in English
Vocabulary for feelings; experience of the first day in a new school; how to make people feel welcome
Materials or ResourcesPa Lia's First Day by Michelle Edwards; downloadable activity pages
This lesson was designed to be covered during one week of instruction.
1. Review vocabulary for feelings: afraid, angry, sad, embarrassed, happy, nervous, lonely. Show students that they can have a variety of feelings at the same time.
2. Brainstorm with students how they felt their first day of school. Did they know their teacher? Did they know any other students in their class?
3. Ask who in the class has moved to a new school. Who came to school not speaking English? Talk about other times students felt "out of place." or "alone."
4. Develop vocabulary before or during reading. Help students find the meaning of words using context clues if possible. Words that are essential to the understanding of the story should be developed before reading. (dawdle, brave)
- Pages 1-7: dawdle, stiff, cotton, stare, brave, shy, tugged, searched, minnow
- Pages 8-12: steep, squeezed, breath, buzz, slid, ached
- Pages 15-18: stinker, enemy, dimple, sweaty, sighed
- Pages 21-24: peeked, chubby, pigtails, cuddly
- Pages 39-50: gigantic, wave, howl, shaky, coughed, squeaked
Ask questions during reading to check comprehension:
- Why did Pa Lia dawdle on the way to school?
- What did Pa Lia's brother do on the way to school?
- Who pushed Pa Lia on the steps?
- When did Pa Lia meet Calliope?
- Why was Howie mean to Pa Lia?
- What did Pa Lia do during Math Class?
- What did Pa Lia do to make Howie become her friend?
Predicting what will happen next in a story is an important skill for English language learners to acquire. Have students predict the following: (Either in a group oral discussion or in a journal.)
- At the end of page 6: What do you think Pa Lia will do next? How will she find her classroom?
- At the end of page 30: How did Pa Lia feel when Howie walked away. What do you think she will do to become friends with Howie?
- At the end of page 36: What should Pa Lia do now?
- At the end of page 46: Do you think Howie and Calliope will be mad at Pa Lia?
1. Review the story with students and discuss Pa Lia's feelings during various events. How did her feelings effect her behavior? Have students fill in the Pa Lia's feelings chart.
2. Help students recall the story action through the Pa Lia sequencing activity.
2. Brainstorm with students a list of ways classmates can make a new student feel welcome. Ask students to write about how they would have made Pa Lia welcome. Help them develop the language to welcome people.
3. What did Pa Lia do that was brave? Have students think about a time they felt brave. Ask them to write or draw a picture about that experience.
4. Pa Lia is called "Four Eyes" by Stinky Stern. Talk to the group about how they feel when someone calls them a name.
5. If appropriate to the ability level of the group, help students find the figurative language in the story. What does each expression sound like it means? What does it really mean? Can you tell the meaning from the context of the story? Explain how the author paints a picture with words. Ask students what they think of when you say one of the following:
- "Her mouth felt like it was stuffed with cotton....?" (She was so nervous she could barely talk.)
- "Her stomach felt like it was filled with one thousand fluttering butterflies......?" (Her stomach felt upset.)
- "She wished a hundred hungry tigers would all roar at Tou Ger." (She wished that Tou Ger would know how afraid she was.)
- "Pa Lia felt like a teeny tiny minnow in a huge, giant ocean." (Pa Lia felt lost)
6. Brainstorm with students when they felt very nervous. Make a list of the board of their ideas. Download Pa Lia's butterflies. Ask students to complete the sentence:
"My mouth was filled with one thousand fluttering butterflies when I..........."
7. Have students share their work with others in the group.
© 1998-2005 Judie Haynes, www.everythingESL.net