K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

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Learning outcomes

  • Using the book, Dear Mr. Blueberry, guide reading and comprehension through teacher modeling and questioning.
  • After reading, discuss the story parts made up of main characters, their descriptions, the setting, the problem, and the solution. Have the students work on a story plan, filling in the information for the parts of the story.
  • Discuss the facts in the book about whales. Assist students as they look into other books for further information about whales. Assist them in choosing and writing five facts about whales to be put on a whale outline.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

2 Hours


  • Multiple copies of the book, Dear Mr. Blueberry
  • Copies of the story plans for students to fill in
  • Resources from the media center about whales (at a low reading level, if possible)
  • Copies of a whale outline for students’ writing


  • Discuss letters that the students may write or receive. Ask students, “Who were you writing to? Who were the letters from? What was the reason for writing the letters? What type of form was used?”
  • Explain that the book they will be reading is made up of a series of letters between a little girl named Emily and her teacher, Mr. Blueberry, over a summer vacation.
  • Vocabulary that needs to be introduced: spurt, shrimplike, crunched-up, forcibly, and migratory.


Directed Reading/Thinking Activity

  1. Read the first four letters as students follow along silently. Discuss these questions:
    • What is the problem Emily has?
    • What does she want her teacher to do?
    • What does Mr. Blueberry tell her about whales?
    • How does Emily feel about her whale?
    • What do you think will happen?

    Listen to students read these pages.

  2. Read the next four letters while students follow along. Discuss the following questions:
    • Did your prediction happen?
    • What did Emily see her whale do?
    • What new things does Mr. Blueberry tell her about whales?
    • How does Emily feed her whale?
    • Is Emily showing disappointment so far?
    • What will happen next?

    Listen to students read these four letters.

  3. Read the last three letters to students as they follow along. Discuss the following questions:
    • Did your prediction happen?
    • Why did Emily feel sad?
    • How does Mr. Blueberry try to help Emily feel better?
    • What happens to Arthur?
    • Did Emily really have a whale in her pond?
    • What do you think Emily learned?
    • What do you think Mr. Blueberry learned?

    Listen to students read these last letters.

Story Analysis

  1. Discuss these parts of the story: main characters, their descriptions, the setting, the problem, and the solution. Show the students where these will be put on the storyplan worksheet.
  2. Discuss what “illustration” means, and have them complete the worksheet, giving assistance as needed.

Writing Activity

  1. Discuss the factual details about whales that Mr. Blueberry wrote to Emily. Guide the children in finding other facts about whales from easy-to-read sources. Have them choose five facts about whales to write on their whale outline.


  • Assessments can be made of comprehension and oral reading through the directed reading lesson.
  • The written work on the lesson plan will indicate student understanding of the overall story and its parts.
  • The research into whales will give students some practice at an early level into the skills needed to find and write about facts. Students should have a completed whale outline with five sentences giving factual information about whales.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • Reading: Literature

        • Grade 2
          • 2.RL.1 Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.
          • 2.RL.3 Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.
        • Grade 3
          • 3.RL.1 Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.
          • 3.RL.3 Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 2

  • Goal 2: The learner will develop and apply strategies and skills to comprehend text that is read, heard, and viewed.
    • Objective 2.01: Read and comprehend both narrative and expository text appropriate for grade two by:
      • determining purpose (reader's and author's).
      • making predictions.
      • asking questions.
      • locating information for specific reasons/purposes.
      • recognizing and applying text structure.
      • comprehending and evaluating author's decisions and word choice.
      • determining fact and opinion.
      • recognizing and comprehending figurative language.
      • making inferences and drawing conclusions.
    • Objective 2.04: Pose possible how, why, and what if questions to understand and/or interpret text.
  • Goal 3: The learner will make connections through the use of oral language, written language, and media and technology.
    • Objective 3.02: Connect and compare information within and across selections (fiction, nonfiction, poetry and drama) to experience and knowledge.
    • Objective 3.04: Increase oral and written vocabulary by listening, discussing, and composing texts when responding to literature that is read and heard. (e.g., read aloud by teacher, literature circles, interest groups, book clubs).