Title: Roberto, the Insect Architect Author/Illustrator: Nina Laden
Themes: Insects, Architecture
Vocabulary: termite, architect, blueprint, pests, paper wasp, boll weevil, going against the grain
Hear the book read aloud here: Roberto the Insect Architect V ★ 3rd Grade Common Core Reading Standard ★
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). olunteers should note that much of the dry humor in this very clever book will be lost upon the students but they will still enjoy the story and its illustrations.
Introduction (Prep Questions)
Use the title and cover to predict what the story is about. Ask students to infer what an architect does, using clues from the cover illustration.
Ask students if the story will be fiction (giving true factual information) or nonfiction, which is make-believe, using the cover illustration, and why.
Discuss termites (insects that eat wood and can damage buildings, furniture, and other wooden items. Ask students if they have ever seen a home covered with a termite fumigation tent. Explain that different tree types produce different wood types and identify some common wood varieties such as pine, oak, teak, maple, etc.
Pp. 1-2: Read; have students discuss how the illustration matches termites (lots of wood, bag of wood chips instead of potato chips). Read last sentence on page and have students discuss how the illustration shows his daydreaming (building tower, thought-bubble of fame). [Students likely won’t understand wood play-on-words in the first paragraph.] Discuss significance of, “But Roberto didn’t eat his food. He played with it.” (because he dreams of becoming an architect, he builds with his wood food rather than eating it)
Pp. 3-4: Read; ask students to infer the meaning of “hungry to start a new life”. Using cause → effect, tell students that the sentence, Roberto realized he had to leave,” is an effect. Remind students that an effect is what happens and a cause is what makes something happen. Ask what the cause is for why Roberto is leaving? (he didn’t want to cook, he wanted to build).
Have students discuss what they see in the humorous illustration, and how the illustration contributes to a story about termites.
Pp. 5-6: Read; have students discuss the significance of the phrase, “build your dreams” and how it relates to the story. Ask students to explain the play-on-words of, “It was a place where the other termites wouldn’t bug you.”
Point out the simile: “Roberto beamed hope like a lit-up skyscraper.” Remind students that a simile is a comparison of one thing to another thing using the word like or as.
Discuss the illustration and how it relates to the insect story theme.
Pp. 7-8: Read; discuss the last sentence. Analyze the illustration.
Pp. 9-10: Read; have students determine why Roberto is sad (multiple rejections). Discuss the reason for each rejection. Note elaborate architects’ desks in illustration.
Pp. 11-12: Read; have students discuss the significance of the phrase, “feeling like a pest” and how it relates to the story. Using context clues, ask students to define frantic and how it relates to the ladybug’s statement, “Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home…” Analyze the illustration.
Pp. 13-14: Read; ask students how Roberto’s statement, “I’ll show them all,” describes Roberto as a character. Why?
Pp. 15-16: Read; ask students about Roberto’s plan. Discuss the various architect’s tools with students. (blueprints, protractor, etc.)
Pp: 17-18: Read; students will enjoy sharing what they see in the illustration.
Pp. 19-20: Read; point out the simile in the first sentence on p. 20 and ask students what two things are being compared using the work like (Roberto/magician). Ask students how this page further help us understand Roberto as a character (unselfish, generous, etc.). How?
Pp. 21-22: Read; have students analyze how the different houses match the new occupants, and why.
Pp. 23-24: Read; students will not understand most of the specific content but ask them for the gist (Roberto is famous). Discuss how the illustration supports this.
Pp. 25-26: Read; again, students will not understand most of the specific content but can infer from the illustration and text that Roberto is now regarded as a hero.
Pp. 27-28: Read; point out the author’s use of figurative language with alliteration (when two or more words start with the same sound): ladybugs sent him love letters; his bug buddiesthrew him a big bash).
Pp. 29-30: Read; compare the statement, “Roberto built his dream,” with the statement on p. 5, “The city was a place where you could build your dreams.” Point out the author’s use again of alliteration (students studied him in school). Ask students how the illustration on p. 29 matches a story about a termite. (wood floor, wooden clock, desk, chair, door)
Pp. 31-32: Read; compare illustration on pp. 1-2 with illustration on pp. 31-32. Ask students how we can infer that Roberto’s dream in the beginning has come true (the newspaper is now real and no longer in a thought bubble). Have students share how the illustration supports a termite story.
At the end we learn that Roberto achieved his dream. How did he do it? Did he deserve it? Why or why not?
What is the author’s message for us? Why is it important?