No worries...these are helpful critters who have helped the students become better readers. Each one is introduced with their very own story. The next several days students listen and learn as I model that strategy, and then they join in. It gets really exciting when they start to use the strategy on their own.
One of my favorite critters to introduce is Iggy. Iggy is an iguana. He teachers students how to infer. We had already learned about schema from our spider. Iggy shares with students to take the author's clues and add that with their schema to read like a detective and figure things out that the author may not tell them.
We begin our modeled practice with a mystery about a new neighbor who moved in next door. I haven't seen them yet. It has been a real mystery. But lucky for me, they left a small bag next to the recycle bin we share. We will use those items to learn more about them. We can do this by inferring.
I love to listen to them. This is a time they begin to dig and dive deeper into thinking, uncovering levels of meaning. We will move into text next, but the remaining items will be in a center for them to continue their detective work! I love that there is no right answer, the beauty of inference.
If you would like to see more activities like this one, check out Tanny McGregor's book Comprehension Connections. They are great for introductions to comprehension strategies before delving into text.