Predicting: Strega Nona

Grade Levels: K - 2


This lesson is designed to establish predicting as a strategy for primary students, using the book, Strega Nona by Tomie de Paola. Students will predict prior to reading and refine predictions while reading in order to more easily understand new concepts. This lesson is the second of a set of predicting lessons designed for primary grades.

Predicting is an early primary skill that students should be introduced to early in the year. Students should have some experience making predictions before participating in this lesson.


  • Strega Nona by Tomie de Paola

  • Large cooking pot

  • Strega Nona vocabulary

  • Board to post Strega Nona vocabulary words and to write predictions on

  • Sticky notes

  • Prediction Handout (label the three columns with "before reading", "during reading", and "after reading")

  • predict definition


  1. Hook/Engagement

    Prior to the lesson, write Strega Nona vocabulary words/phrases ("Calabria", "Grandma Witch", and "magic pot") on separate sheets of paper and place them into the cooking pot along with the copy of the book Strega Nona. You can also choose additional vocabulary if needed. Place the pot in the read aloud area of the classroom where students can see it but not what is inside of it. Post the definition of predict. Remove one vocabulary word from the pot at a time and read the word/phrase to the students. Tell students that these words and phrases are used in the story and ask if anyone knows what they mean. You might wish to have a map of the world with your location as well as Calabria, Italy marked on it for reference. Ask students to think about what the story might be about. Have them share their predictions. If students are struggling, think-aloud to model a prediction. "Since the words 'Grandma Witch' and 'magic pot' are in the story, I think the old lady on the front cover is the witch and that she has a magic pot."

  2. Measurable Objectives

    Tell students that they will use prior knowledge make predictions about this story. They will make and refine predictions as they read, and this will help them to understand the story.

  3. Vocabulary

    • Calabria-a region in Italy

    • Grandma Witch-an old woman who knows magic

    • Magic Pot-a cooking pot that has magic powers

    • Predict-using the pictures, the title, and what you already know to make guesses about a story before, during and after reading

  4. Focused Instruction

    Mark the book with a sticky note at the following stopping points:

    • First stopping point: Page reading, "In a town in Calabria…"

    • Second stopping point: Page reading, "And Strega Nona called Big Anthony in for supper…"

    • Third stopping point: Page reading, "There was more than enough for all the townspeople, including the priest and the sisters from the convent…"

    • Fourth stopping point: Page reading, "Oh, grazie—thank you, thank you Strega Nona…"

    • Fifth stopping point: the end of the story

    Read to the first stopping point. Tell students they will be using the reading strategy that calls for them to make predictions about what they will read and then read to prove those predictions. Review the poster with the definition of the word predict. Remove the copy of Strega Nona and show the cover to students. Before reading ask students to "think-aloud" and give predictions about the story. Elicit from students what information they are using to make predictions (cover illustration and title) Students should also be encouraged to use correct vocabulary as they think-aloud, "Looking at the illustration on the cover I think the story might be about an old woman and her pet rabbit because they are in the picture together." Distribute Prediction Handouts and have students write or draw predictions to complete the "before reading" section. Read aloud to the second stopping point at the end of the first page. Ask students "What do you think now? Why? What in the text makes you believe that? What changes need to be made to our predictions? What do you think will happen next?" Encourage students to explain their thinking and reasoning as they discuss changes or verifications to their predictions.

  5. Guided Practice

    Repeat this process for the third stopping point. At the fourth stopping point allow time for students to check the original prediction they made and make any changes needed to the "during reading" section on the prediction handout. Encourage students to reflect on what they have heard. Then have students make a new prediction. After students have heard the entire story divide them into pairs. Discuss the importance of finding and citing evidence in the text to prove or refute their predictions. Ask them to discuss their initial predictions with their partner and then complete the "after reading" section of the Prediction Handout. Circulate around the room listening to students' responses and assisting as needed.

  6. Independent Practice

    Review the Prediction Handout with students to ensure they understand the process. Select another text at the appropriate reading level and pre-mark several stopping points. Have students write initial predictions on a Prediction Handout before, during, and after reading. Circulate among students as they complete each section to offer assistance and encourage reflection.

  7. Assessment

    As a method of assessing student comprehension of using prediction as a reading strategy select several students per day over the course of a week to verbally discuss with you how predictions are made. Determine if students are able to use titles, illustrations, as well as information from the text to verify or modify predictions as a story is being read.

Reflection and Planning

For students who need additional practice predicting, have them repeat this lesson using a different story. If students are struggling with writing or drawing predictions, have the verbally explain predictions to you or to a partner. To continue working on predicting, you may use the additional lesson on this topic. Each will explore the topic in a bit more depth, expanding students' understanding of the concept.

For more help use the lesson that introduces prediction, Prediciting: The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear. When your students are ready to move on, try Predicting: The Garden of Abdul Gasazi.

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