Reading and Writing Connections for this selection:

A Robin's Menu Through the Seasons

Reading Strategies:

  • Activate Prior Knowledge
  • Ask Questions and Make Predictions to Set a Purpose for Reading
  • Reread for Text Details
  • Summarize Main Ideas and Details
  • Make Text-to-Text Connections
  • Make Inferences and Draw Conclusions
  • Make Text-to-Self Connections
  • Analyze Author?s Craft: Identify and Analyze Text Structure
  • (About Reading Strategies)

    forage, percent, thrive, marine invertebrates, digested, gullet, genus, cultivated




Introduce the selection by asking students the following questions:
1. What do robins eat?
2. What kinds of animal foods do robins eat?
3. What kinds of plant foods do robins eat?

Create a Concept Map to organize facts about a robin?s eating habits. Write the topic question on chart paper: What?s on the Menu for Robins? List two categories below the topic: Animal Foods and Plant Foods. Use the chart prior to reading the selection to record students? predictions and questions. (Activating Prior Knowledge, Making Predictions and Asking Questions to Set a Purpose for Reading)

Invite students to think about the following questions before reading the selection:
1. Do you think robins eat the same kinds of foods year round? Encourage students to share reasons for their responses.
2. Do you think robins that live in different places eat the same foods? Encourage students to share reasons for their responses.

Read "A Robin's Menu Through the Seasons." Encourage students to "mark up the text" by circling unfamiliar words, underlining key words and phrases, and writing notes in the margins. Invite them to underline sentences that reveal answers to the preview questions.

Revisit the text to answer questions listed prior to reading. Ask questions to facilitate students? work: Which questions were answered by details in the text? What facts did the article reveal about the eating habits of robins? Invite students to generate more questions for further research. (Rereading for Text Details)

Have students reread the selection with a partner. Invite them to create a Concept Map to organize facts from the article. Topic: What?s on the Menu for Robins? Categories: Animal Foods and Plant Foods. Have students summarize (orally or in writing) the key ideas from the text using their concept map. (Summarizing Main Ideas and Details in the Text)

Reread the third paragraph: Robins eat animals 42 percent of the time and plants 58 percent of the time, say researchers Martin, Zim, and Nelson in their book, "American Wildlife and Plants: A Guide to Wildlife Food Habits."

Give each student a ten-by-ten piece of grid paper (100 squares). Ask students to create a grid that represents the percentage by coloring in 42 squares for the amount of animal foods and 58 squares for the plant foods. (Making Math Connections)

Invite students to research the specific animals and plants listed in the article by reading American Wildlife and Plants: A Guide to Wildlife Food Habits by Martin, Zim, and Nelson. Encourage them to locate other reference materials for further research. (Making Text-to-Text Connections)

Journaling Questions (Making Inferences, Drawing Conclusions)
1. Which plants and animals from your neighborhood would you expect a robin to eat? (Think about native plants and animals in your state or province.)

2. What kinds of trees and shrubs can be planted in your neighborhood to provide nourishment for robins? (See Unpave the Way for Robins)

3. What do robins eat when getting ready for migration?
(Answer from Ask the Expert: At winter?s end, robins eat a lot of berries. They also eat as many worms as they can find at the start of spring migration. In late summer and early fall they prepare for migration by eating a lot of fruit and insects as well as worms.)

4. How do you think pesticides/insecticides affect robins that are eating earthworms, insects, and plants?

5. How is a robin?s body adapted to its eating habits? Find facts about the beak, esophagus, intestines, and other body parts that help a robin digest large quantities of foods.

Making Connections: What kinds of plants do we eat?
(Making Text-to-Self Connections, Making Inferences, and Drawing Conclusions) Reread the paragraphs about plant foods that robins eat. Invite students to study plant foods typically found on our dining tables. Spark their curiosity by asking the following questions:

1. Which foods listed in the reading selection can also be found on our menu?
2. What kinds of plants do we eat? What parts of the plants do we eat?
3. What parts of the country grow the different kinds of plants?
4. What plant foods are available year round? Which ones are more seasonal?
5. At the grocery store some fruits and vegetables are labeled "organically grown." What does this label mean?

Evaluate (Identifying and Analyzing Text Structure)
Have students analyze the text structure of the reading selection. Have them underline topic sentences in each paragraph. Encourage them to identify detail sentences under each topic sentence. For example:

Topic sentence: A robin?s changing diet is a sure sign of changing seasons.
Detail sentences:

1. In spring and summer, robins forage mostly on the ground in places where the soil is rich and moist. That?s where earthworms and insects thrive.
2. In fall and winter, robins feed on berries and other fruit. They find these foods on shrubs, trees, and vines of all kinds.

Invite students to use the topic sentences and detail sentences to create an outline of the text.

Writer's Workshop

  • Creative/Descriptive
    How can you make an earthworm sound appetizing? Create a menu featuring the foods a robin eats. For each food listed in the menu write a short description using sensory details. What does the food look like (color, shape, size)? What does the food feel like (texture, temperature)? What kinds of details can you use to describe the taste?
  • Expository
    An author that writes scientific articles does research to become an expert. Research more facts about the eating habits of robins. Write a fact book for young readers to share your expertise about robins and what they eat.
  • Expressive/Persuasive
    To effectively persuade others, you must have accurate facts. Research the use of pesticides/insecticides. What effects have these chemicals had on plants and animals? Write an editorial for your local newspaper that presents your opinion about the use of pesticides based on the facts you found in your research.