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Reading Comprehension: Dragon Comprehends Ideas & Details


Common Core, Language Arts  


1, 2, 3  


  • Reading Comprehension forms/handouts (Download)
  • The children’s picture book – “Old MacDonald had a Dragon” by Ken Baker, illustrated by Christopher Santoro (ISBN-0761461752)


Lesson Plan Activity Time: 1 to 3 class periods



Help teachers achieve reading literature Common Core Standards on key ideas and details by practicing reading comprehension skills.


Reading Comprehension of the Plot:

  1. Read the picture book “Old MacDonald had a Dragon” aloud to the whole class.
  2. Discuss the problems that the farmer faced in the story. (What Problem did he have at the beginning of the book? What choices did he have? Did he remain happy with his choice? How did the problem get worse? How did he finally resolve the problem?
  3. Ask the students if they like how the farmer resolved the problem and what they would have done in his situation.
  4. Discuss how most traditional stories follow a similar pattern of the main character facing a problem that he/she must resolve, and often the problem gets worse before it gets better.
  5. Ask the students if they can think of examples of other stories they have heard or read where this pattern happens.
  6. If desired, put students into groups or partners to talk about and think of examples in other stories.
  7. Bring students back together and as a class, discuss what they came up with.
  8. Some examples that might work for this are:
  • Jack and the Beanstalk: Jack’s family is poor and he trades a cow for magic beans. His mom gets mad and throws the beans away. Jack climbs the beanstalk and steals giant’s treasure. The giant tries to eat Jack. Jack cuts down the beanstalk.
  • The Three Pigs: The wolf wants to eat the pigs. The pigs build houses. The wolf blows down the straw and stick house. The pig in the brick house is safe until the wolf goes down the chimney. The pig cooks the wolf in a big pot of water.
  1. Have students fill out the questions on the story comprehension forms to practice their abilities and so you can assess where they are at in their comprehension.


Reading Comprehension of the Characters:

  1. Who are the main characters of the story?
  2. Ask and discuss with the students, “what are some things they know about main characters?”
  3. Have students fill out the questions on their character comprehension forms to practice their abilities and so you can assess where they are in their comprehension.


Reading Comprehension of the Setting:

  1. Discuss the setting for “Old MacDonald had a Dragon”.
  2. Ask the students the types of things that are usually found on a farm.
  3. Discuss the different types of farms (dairy farms, animal farms, farms that only grow crops, farms that have animals and crops, etc.)
  4. Talk about how the use adjectives help readers better visualize the setting in a story.
  5. Have the students answer questions in the setting comprehension forms to practice their abilities and so you can assess where they are in their comprehension, as well as to experiment with descriptive language to describe a setting of their choice.


Optional Activity: Think-Aloud Reading Comprehension Skill Development:

  1. Think-aloud strategies can help student’s comprehension on tests.
  2. By verbalizing their thoughts with this process, students have to occasionally stop and reflect upon what they’re reading or hearing, which helps them develop their comprehension skills
  3. To conduct this activity, when you read “Old MacDonald had a Dragon” to the students, don’t show them the pictures until you have:
  • Read the text on the page
  • Asked the students the questions listed below associated with the pages specified
  • Given the students a chance to respond out loud to the questions

Questions for the students

  1. Page with farmer singing on the porch – what do you think the farmer looks like? Does the cow sound happy, sad, or mad?
  2. Page that first shows the dragon – what do you picture the dragon doing on this page?
  3. Page showing the pig leaving – how do you think the pig is planning to leave?
  4. Page with the farmer singing about the dog – what do you picture the dog doing?
  5. Page singing moo-oink-baa-woof – what do you picture the farmer and animals doing?


Additional Optional Reading Comprehension and Writing Activities:

Alternative Ending: Have the students think of their own alternative ending for the story and ask them to write that ending.

Imaginative Writing: Ask the students to write about problems and/or good things that would happen if they had a dragon at their house.

More on Adjectives: Discuss some of the descriptive language used in the story by the dragon and have the students write sentences using some of those adjectives or other adjectives of your choice. (This could be an opportunity to discuss alliteration).

Story Comparison: Read to the class the picture book “Cow Can’t Sleep” by Ken Baker. Ask about and discuss the similarities between this book and “Old MacDonald had a Dragon” (it’s on a farm, animals, farmer).

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Reading comprehension lesson plan handouts  [DOWNLOAD]