Tangipahoa Public School System The Year at Maple Hill Farm K

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Tangipahoa Public School System The Year at Maple Hill Farm K

Title/Author: The Year at Maple Hill Farm by Alice and Martin Provensen

Suggested Time to Spend: 6 - 8 Days (about 30 minutes/day)

Common Core grade-level ELA/Literacy Standards: RI.K.1, RI.K.2, RI.K.3, RI.K.4, RI.K.7, RI.K.8, RI.K.10; W.K.2 W.K.8; SL.K.1, SL.K.2; L.K.1, L.K.2, L.K.4, L.K.5

Lesson Objective:

Students will learn about change over the course of a year, the four seasons and what the changing seasons mean for animals on a farm and the surrounding area.

Teacher Instructions

Before the Lesson

  1. Read the Big Ideas and Key Understandings and the Synopsis below. Please do not read this to the students. This is a description to help you prepare to teach the book and be clear about what you want your children to take away from the work.

Big Ideas/Key Understandings/Focusing Question

Animals are affected by the changing weather in the seasons in a year.


This is a beautifully illustrated book about farm animals, and what happens during one year on a farm. Month by month, the animals at Maple Hill Farm sense the changing seasons and respond to the changes.

  1. Go to the last page of the lesson and review “What Makes this Read-Aloud Complex.” This was created for you as part of the lesson and will give you guidance about what the lesson writers saw as the sources of complexity or key access points for this book. You will of course evaluate text complexity with your own students in mind, and make adjustments to the lesson pacing and even the suggested activities and questions.

  2. Read the entire book, adding your own insights to the understandings identified. Also note the stopping points for the text-inspired questions and activities. Hint: you may want to copy the questions vocabulary words and activities over onto sticky notes so they can be stuck to the right pages for each day’s questions and vocabulary work.

The Lesson – Questions, Activities, and Tasks


Expected Outcome or Response (for each)


Pull the students together or use a document camera, etc. so that all can enjoy the illustrations. Read aloud the entire book without interruption.

The goal here is for students to experience and enjoy the book, words and pictures, as a whole. Don’t be concerned if students understand very little from the first read. The idea is to give students some context and a sense of the characters and information before delving more deeply into parts of the book.


Reread the first page of the story “The Year”.

Tell the students that the class is going to keep a record of the seasons of the year while you read the story together.

The teacher and students will identify and take notes about the seasons as the story is read and reread.

Reread pages 2 – 3.

What is the first month discussed in the story?
What season or time of the year is January? Let’s write the name of this month on top of the first column.
What words from the story and details from the illustrations tell us it is winter? Let’s add some notes in our column for the season of winter. (Adding pictures, too is recommended)

Why do the animals stay close to the barn in the winter? (The teacher will refer back to this question later when animals are grazing outside)

Listen to these sentences from the story again:

“It is a cold, grey time of year and night falls early”

And “the days are too short and dark.”

What do you think it means that “night falls early”? Turn to your shoulder partner and quietly discuss this question and raise your hand when you are ready to answer.

If not already on the chart, tell students we will add “less daylight and sunshine”
Reread pages 4 – 5.
What is the next month in the story?
Listen to this sentence again from the story:

“February follows January.” What does that mean?

What season is happening in the month of February?
Let’s add February under “Winter”.
What details can we get from the words in the story and looking at the illustration to tell it is still winter? (Depending on region students may need help with pond, ice skating, spring water and hibernation)
If students do not get and volunteer “hibernation”, then ask:

Some animals go to sleep during the winter when it’s very cold and do not wake up until the weather warms in the spring. What does it mean the “water rat is napping. He won’t wake up until spring”?

Then, add “hibernating animals” under winter (if not already listed)

January is the first month in the story (tell students January is the first month of the year).

January is a winter month.
Words/details will vary and could include January, snow, cold, frozen ground, short and dark days, sheep have heavy winter coats, sheep huddled together to stay warm, no leaves on the trees, people wearing coats, gloves, hats, wild deer coming close to the farm looking for food. Pictures representing snow, leafless trees, winter clothes, etc. may be added.
Animals stay close to the barn to get fed.

There is less time of daylight in the winter.

The next month is February.
It means that February comes after January. (If students need scaffolding here, the teacher could say “follows means to come after or be behind. What does it mean that Feb. follows Jan.?”)
It is still winter.

Write February on chart.

Details could include frozen pond, ice skating, fire to warm up, icy water, the trees are bare, snow on the ground, children wearing hats, scarves, coats and gloves (if students say “birds in trees, ask them if there are birds when it’s warm outside, too and we are trying to find special details about the seasons.)
The water rat is hibernating.

Reread page 6 - 7
What is the next month in the story? Which month follows February?
What season is it changing to?

What is the next season we need to put on our chart?

There are signs or things happening that tell us that spring is coming. What things are happening that give us signs that spring is coming?

Listen to these sentences again from the story:

“The horses have found a little grass under the last patches of snow. They lie down in the pale sunshine. You don’t see that often when the ground is frozen.”

What can we deduce or figure out about the ground in March from reading this part of the story?

March follows February.

It is changing to the season of spring.

Baby animals are being born. The snow and ice are melting. It’s raining and not snowing. There are buds on the trees. Flowers are blooming. Animals are out in the open.

The ground is no longer frozen. The weather is warming, so the snow is melting and the grass is starting to grow.


Explain that today the class will continue to read and explore A Year at Maple Hill Farm. Reread up to page 7 without stopping. Then, call on a few students to summarize what you have read.

Students can refer to the class notes on the seasons (pictures with the words would be especially helpful here).

Reread pages 6 - 7. (note: teacher may need to explain that a “hare” is not a rabbit; it looks like a rabbit, but is bigger with longer hind legs)
Which month follows February? What is the next month in the year?
Which season starts in the month of March?
Let’s start a column/chart/etc. for the season of spring.
Listen again as I read the first two sentences on this page:

(teacher reread ”March is a….to in the barn”.) What three words describe the weather in March?

Looking at the illustrations on these pages, do we have evidence or proof that it is cold outside? What do we see that tells us it is cold outside?
What are the signs of spring in the barn?

What are the special names for the mothers and baby animals? (Teacher may need to reread each section).

The author states, “All the animal mothers are proud and protective . . .” Protective means to look after and keep safe. Which animals are being protective? Why?

The word “mad” can mean “angry and very set” or “very excited and moving around fast”. Listen again to this sentence from the story:

“The mad March hare is hurrying in all directions.”

Is the hare angry – mad or excited – mad? How do we know?

What season is it that the ground snow and ice melts and we can see horses lying on the ground?
Why do you think we wouldn’t often see horses lying on the ground when the ground is frozen?

March follows February; it is the next month in the year.

Spring starts in March.

Write a heading for spring.
Three words that describe the weather are “cold”, “windy” and “rainy”.

Yes. The people are dressed in winter clothes (hats, long sleeves, coat). There is still some snow on the ground.

All the baby animals are signs of spring.
A horse had a foal; a cow had a calf; a ewe had a lamb; and a nanny goat had a kid. The horse and cow mothers do not have special names.
The animal mothers (pony, cow, ewe, cat, and goat) are being protective of their babies, because they are full of love for their babies.

The hare is excited – mad. He is hurrying in all directions.

Spring is the season when snow and ice melt and we can see horses lying on the ground.
It’s frozen and too cold.

Reread pages 8 - 9.

What is the next month in the year? What kind of month is April?

How does the author of the story tell us that we can know spring is here in April?
If “business – like” means to be careful and serious, then what do we know about what kind of parents robins are and how robins hatch their eggs?

Look at the two illustrations of this bird’s nest in the middle of this page (page 7) and listen to me reread the sentences that go with these illustrations (teacher reads the sentences under the two pictures with cuckoo birds). The author wrote that the big bird in the first picture must be a “cuckoo” bird. What can we infer or figure out about the cuckoo bird by reading this part of the story and looking at the illustrations (reread again if necessary)?

Listen to the last two sentences again: (reread dogs steal…make nests, too). Do you think the dog is going to build a nest with the egg in its mouth? Why do you think a dog might steal an egg?

April is the next month and it is a spring month.

You can tell it is spring by all the eggs.

Robins are good parents because they are careful with taking care of their eggs.

We can infer that the cuckoo bird lays its eggs in other birds’ nest and the other birds take care of the baby cuckoo bird, not knowing any better.

Dogs do not build nests; they eat eggs.

Reread pages 10 - 11.

What month follows April? What season is it?

Why are the sheep and the sheep-dog shorn? What does “shorn” mean in this story?
Why do the chickens moult? Look at the illustration. What do you think happens when chickens moult?

May is the next month in the year; it is still spring.

They are shorn because it’s warm and their coats are uncomfortable. Shorn means to cut off hair or have a haircut.
Chickens moult or their feathers fall out because it is warm outside.

FOURTH Reading:

Explain that today the class will continue to read and explore A Year at Maple Hill Farm. Reread up to page 11 without stopping. Then, call on a few students to summarize what you have read.

Students can refer to the class notes on the seasons (pictures with the words would be especially helpful here).

Reread pages 12 – 13.

What is the next month in the year? What season is it? (If students need help, reread the first sentence “June is the first month of summer.”)

Look at the illustration and think about the words in the story. Why is the pasture so green? What are the animals doing in the pasture?
Which animals eat grass?
How do horses help chickens get insects? Why do chickens chase insects? (If students can’t infer this, add “If “Stir up” means to shake something up or make it move quickly around” then what happens when the horses’ big feet or hooves hit the ground?”)
What reasons does the author give that the bird is safe, but the squirrels “had better watch out”? What do the squirrels have to watch out for? Why do the squirrels have to be careful, but not the bird?

June is the first month of summer.

The pasture is green with grass. The animals are eating the grass.

Horses, cows, geese, goats, and chickens eat grass.
When the horses walk around to eat grass, they “stir up” the insects with their big feet or hooves.

The bird is up on a branch, out of the cat’s reach; the squirrels are on the ground in front of the cat and her kittens where they could be hunted and attacked. The author says, “cats don’t eat grass or insects,” so the cat may eat the squirrels if they’re not careful.

Reread pages 14 – 15.

What is there “enough of to go around” in June?

Looking at the illustration at the bottom of the page, does it look like horses like horse–flies? What details in the illustration tell us whether horses do or do not like horse-flies? Talk about this quietly with your shoulder partner and raise your hand when you are ready to answer.
The author said that, “everyone likes flowers”. Looking at the illustration at the top of the page, why do goats and sheep like flowers?
What reason does the author give that no one likes fleas?

There are enough insects to go around.

No. The horses are swishing their tails and kicking to try and shoo away the flies.

Goats and sheep eat flowers.

Fleas bite.

Reread pages 16 – 17.

What month comes after June?

What season is June in?
What reasons does the author give that is may be hard to sleep on a night in July? (If students need scaffold, ask “what makes the July night bright? Noisy? Could the light and noise keep someone from going to sleep?)
Listen as I read this sentence again from the story (reread “the old people…times.”) What could be another word for “chatting”? Let’s check (restate sentence substituting student answer with “chatting”).

July comes after June and it is a summer month.

It’s bright with moonlight and starlight; it’s noisy with crickets chirping, owls hooting, frogs croaking, people talking, machines working, and cows lowing.


Fifth Reading.

Explain that today the class will continue to read and explore A Year at Maple Hill Farm. Reread up to page 18 without stopping. Then, call on a few students to summarize what you have read.

Students can refer to the class notes on the seasons (pictures with the words would be especially helpful here).

Reread page 18

What is the next month in the year? What season is it?

(If students need prompting, reread first sentence “August is the last summer month.”)

Listen to this sentence again from the story:

“Flowers need hours of attention in August heat.”

Look at the illustration. What kind of attention do flowers need? Why do flowers need this attention?

Look at the illustration while I read these sentences again:

“Someone is stealing lettuce. What good is a watch dog?”

Turn to your shoulder partner and quietly discuss what this means. Raise your hand when you are ready to answer.

August is the next month and the last summer month.

Flowers need watering when it’s hot.

The dog is not being a good “watch dog” because the rabbits are eating the lettuce behind him.

Reread page 19

Why is the pig lying in cool mud and why does the old cat come out for a breath of air? What reason does the author of the story give?

It’s very hot (“the days are hot and lazy”)

Reread pages 20 – 21

What is the next month in the year? What season is it? (Read the sentence “September is the first month in Autumn if students need more prompting.)

Why are the horses lively or full of energy in September?

“Shod” means to put shoes on or to be wearing shoes. How does the blacksmith put the shoes on the horses? Why don’t the horses mind?

Temperamental means to be moody and become easily upset or irritated. Who is upset? Why?

September is the first month in Autumn.

Because the weather is cooler and “everyone begins to wake up (or be more alert) after the heat of summer”.

The blacksmith nails the horse’s shoes on. The horses don’t mind because it doesn’t hurt, and they aren’t afraid of the blacksmith because they are used to him.
The big bay horse is upset because he is ticklish and doesn’t want to leave his stall and go in the rain.

Reread pages 22 – 23

Did the month or the season change on these pages?

What this part of the story mainly about?

Look again at this illustration (last on page 22). Why is the cat wrapped in the towel? What are the people doing to the cat wrapped in the towel?
If something is “suspicious” you don’t trust it, you might think something is wrong and be worried about it. What are some horses suspicious of in the story?
Why would the author say, “You can’t wrap a horse up in a towel”? What is making the horse temperamental or upset?

Turn to your shoulder partner and quietly discuss the answer. Raise your hand when you are ready to share.

Listen to this part of the story again:

Reread “The vet has to be called….Animals don’t hold grudges.”

To hold a grudge means that you don’t forget or forgive someone. What will be forgotten in a minute by the animals, so the animals don’t hold a grudge?

No. This part of the story is mainly about the animals getting medicine.

The cat does not want to take the medicine and is a “scratchy” one, so it is wrapped in a towel and held so it can’t scratch. The man is holding the cat in the towel, while the lady is giving the cat its medicine.
The smell of the medicine worries some horses and makes them feel suspicious.
This horse is temperamental or upset because it doesn’t want to take the medicine and it is too big to just wrap in a towel and make it take the medicine (like the cat).

The animals forget how upset they got when they had to take their medicine.

Reread page 24 - 25

What is the next month of the year? Is there any information about the season changing in this month? So what season is it?

“Splendid” can mean beautiful and colorful. Look at the illustrations on these two pages. What do you see that supports October being a “splendid” month? Talk this over with your shoulder partner. Raise your hand when you are ready to answer.

If “harvest” means that the crop or plants have been gathered, what does “The harvest is in” have to do with the animals staying closer to the barnyard?
Look at the illustration. Why would the illustrator draw so many animals here for October?
Compare the clothes that the children are wearing in October with the clothes the children wore in August. What does that tell us about how the weather is different?

What “did away” with all the insects? What can we deduce or figure out about the kind of weather insects like by reading this sentence?

How does the author let us know that it doesn’t rain a lot in October on Maple Hill Farm? (If this is too challenging, ask instead: the author wrote that “October days are dry” what does this mean about the weather? Does it mean that it rains a lot? Why or why not?)

The next month is October. It is still Autumn. There is no evidence the season has changed.

Student responses will vary and may include big, colorful flowers, different colored leaves on the trees, pumpkins, all the animals gathering in the barnyard, etc.

There is little food left in the fields, so the animals are coming closer to the barn where there is food.

The illustrated drew so many animals to match the part of the story about the animals staying closer to the barn for food (because the fields have been harvested).
Children are wearing shorts and short sleeved shirts and are bare footed in the August illustrations, showing the weather is hot. Children are wearing long sleeved shirts and hats/caps showing it is cold in October on Maple Hill Farm.

An early frost did away with all the insects. The weather became cold enough that the insects went away.

The author wrote “October days are dry” which means that there isn’t a lot of rain, which would be wet.

(It means it doesn’t rain a lot because then it would be wet.)

Before rereading these two pages:

If an author punctuates a sentence with an exclamation mark, it means that the sentence is read with an excited voice. Look at the first word on this page, November (use monotone voice). Turn to your shoulder partner and model how the author intended for us to read “November!” (Or teacher will select a few students to stand and model).

Reread pages 26 – 27

What is the next month in the year?

The author of the story wrote “in November, before winter comes” and “in November, before the winter settles in”. Is it winter yet? So which season do we write “November”?
Listen to this sentence from the story and look at the illustrations of the trees:

“The bare branches rattle.”

What does the author mean that the branches are “bare”? How do you think the wind makes the branches “rattle”? (If too challenging, give definition before question. “Rattle is a noise that things knocking against something else make.”)

Students model reading “November!” with excited voices.

November is the next month in the year.

It is not winter yet. November is “before” winter. So, November is an autumn month.

The branches don’t have leaves or anything on them. They are naked. The branches rattle when the wind blows, which makes the leaves knock against each other and make a rattling noise.

Reread pages 28 – 29

What is the last month of the year? What season is it?

Why did the author write, “Now is the time to be in the barn”?

The last month of the year is December. It is winter.

It is time to be in the barn because it’s cold outside and there is snow. The food is inside the barn and it’s warm.

Reread page 30.

Foxes eat chickens. Why is the fox being quiet and “making certain the chickens are safe in bed”?

The fox is sneaking into the farm and doesn’t want to be caught, trying to get the chickens to eat them. The fox is checking on the chickens to try and get them to eat them.

FINAL DAY WITH THE BOOK - Culminating Task

  • Have students compare and contrast the differences between how summer and winter affect the animals. Students will draw a picture representing the farm animals in the winter and another picture of the farm animals in the summer. Students will title one picture “Summer at Maple Hill Farm” and the other picture “Winter at Maple Hill Farm”. After completing their illustrations, students will write a sentence about each picture. Illustrations and answers will include information from the notes taken while the story was read. Explain to students that their illustrations and sentences must include only details from the story about Maple Hill Farm.

Sample Answer:

Summer at Maple Hill Farm

Winter at Maple Hill Farm

Illustrations may include green pastures with animals outside grazing; leaves on trees; people in summer clothes; chickens eating bugs; squirrels and/or birds in trees; cat and kittens outside; cows sleeping under trees; watering flowers; rabbits in the garden; dog sleeping outside; pig cooling off in mud

Illustrations may include animals inside the barn with grain/hay; people in winter clothes; snow; bare trees; animals huddled together outside; horses being fed hay outside; deer near the farm looking for food; ice skating; black birds in trees; camp fire; geese outside

It is hot in the summer and the animals are outside.

The animals are inside the barn because it is cold.


These words merit less time and attention

(They are concrete and easy to explain, or describe events/

processes/ideas/concepts/experiences that are familiar to your students )

These words merit more time and attention

(They are abstract, have multiple meanings, and/or are a part

of a large family of words with related meanings. These words are likely to describe events, ideas, processes or experiences that most of your student will be unfamiliar with)

Page 1 - divided – separated into parts

Page 1 -seasons – different times of the year based on weather

Page 1- shelter – a place to be protected and kept safe

Page 2 – coats – the fur, wool, hair outer covering on an animal

Page 3 – grey – there is little light; between black and white

Page 3 – “falls early” – comes before it’s expected

Page 3 – “windfall” – something blown down by the wind or something lucky to get

Page 4 – follows – comes after

Page 4 – toast – getting warm in front of a fire

Page 5 – marshy – wet and soggy

Page 5 – rooks – a type of bird

Page 5 – circus –group of traveling entertainers, like clowns

Page 5 – napping – sleeping

Page 6 – foal – baby horse

Page 6 – calf – baby cow

Page 6 – ewe – mother sheep

Page 6 – kid – baby goat

Page 7 – cranky - irritable

Page 7 – hare – looks like a rabbit, has longer ears and back legs

Page 7 – pussy willows – tall plants that grow near water

Page 8 – hatching – breaking out of the shell

Page 9 – eaves – overhanging part of roof

Page 10 – shorn – cut off

Page 10 – scarcely – very little

Page 5 - bare – naked

Page 5 - feeds –to give something to (not food in story)

Page 6 – protective – to look after and keep safe

Page 7 – mad – very excited and moving around fast

Page 8 – pick – break

Page 9 – “business-like” – to be careful and serious

Page 12 – “overflowing” – to be too full and go over the top

Page 12 – “stir-up” – to shake something up or make it move quickly around

Page 13 – “watch out” – be careful

Page 17 – steady – not changing, continuously the same

Page 20 – lively – full of energy

Page 23 – temperamental – to get upset easily

Page 23 – suspicious – be worried, not trusting

Page 23 – grudges – feeling of ill will that lasts a long time

Page 24 – frost – when outdoor temperature falls below freezing and ice crystals form

Page 24 – splendid - beautiful and colorful

Page 24 – migrate – move from one habitat or place to another to follow warmer weather

Page 24 – flock – group

Page 26 – bay – loud barking and howling of canines

Page 11 – moult – loose feathers shed or fall off

Page 16 – chatting - talking Page 17 – clank – a sound when metal hits metal

Page 17 – conveyer – a machine that moves things (such as hay) on a belt that moves

Page 19 – drowsy – sleepy

Page 20 – shod – to put shoes on

Page 24 – roost – place where birds sleep

Page 26 – echo – a repeated sound

Page 27 – rattle – noise that things knocking against something else make

Page 27 – “huntsman’s horn” – the horn or noise maker the hunter uses (in illustration) to call other hunters

Page 27 – gander – male goose

Fun Extension Activities for this book and other useful Resources

  • Take students on a field trip (virtually if cannot arrange physical trip) to a working farm. Have students take notes on a specific animal with a partner that they will observe and compare it to the information from the story (name of animal? what does it look like? Does it make a sound? What does it sound like? What did we learn about the animal from our field trip? Etc.).

  • Compare/contrast the weather, activities, environment of where students live with Maple Hill Farm. Could we live near Maple Hill Farm? Why or why not? Help students to identify basic similarities in and differences between the two environments.

  • Read another text about the same topic or watch a documentary about a year on a farm. Then, help student to identify basic similarities in and differences between the two texts.

Note to Teacher

  • Using engagement strategies, such as partner talk, will increase opportunities to support Speaking and Listening CCSS.

  • Read again the parts of the story that support the answer to the questions if students need more prompting or have answered incorrectly.

Notes that class takes about seasons of the year at Maple Hill Farm may be kept on different chart paper and divided also by months:

For example,

Winter at Maple Hill Farm

Spring at Maple Hill Farm

Summer at Maple Hill Farm

Autumn at Maple Hill Farm















What Makes This Read-Aloud Complex?

  1. Quantitative Measure

Go to http://www.lexile.com/ and enter the title of your read-aloud in the Quick Book Search in the upper right of home page. Most texts will have a Lexile measure in this database.



Most of the texts that we read aloud in K-2 should be in the 2-3 or 4-5 band, more complex than the students can read themselves.

2-3 band 420-820L

4-5 band 740-1010L

  1. Qualitative Features

Consider the four dimensions of text complexity below. For each dimension*, note specific examples from the text that make it more or less complex.

group 7group 15




Knowledge Demands

  1. Reader and Task Considerations

What will challenge my students most in this text? What supports can I provide?

The information in this text is dense and may require more readings than suggested with this lesson. There is some subtle humor (such as fox checking to see if chickens are safe in their beds) that students may not understand without explanation.

How will this text help my students build knowledge about the world?

This text can inform students about working farms, animals and how they react to different weather, seasons and months of the year.

  1. Grade level

What grade does this book best belong in? K

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