Lesson 5: The Raft

Getting Started

Questions to Explore

  • What causes change?
  • When and why can change be scary?

Facts and Definitions

  • The setting is the place where the story happens.
  • The characters are the people or animals in a story.


  • Identify who is telling the story at various points in a text. (LA)
  • Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 1 reading and content, choosing flexibly from an array of strategies. (LA)
  • With guidance and support from adults, demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships and nuances in word meanings. (LA)
  • Compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of characters in stories. (LA)
  • Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details. (LA)


  • The Raft by Jim LaMarche
  • blank paper
  • craft sticks (kit)
  • glue
  • glue or glue gun
  • markers* (Activity 4 - optional)
  • paint (kit)
  • paintbrush (kit)
  • pencil
  • picture books
  • scissors
  • sketch pad or blank paper

* - denotes an optional material that may or may not be needed


Tell your child that today she is going to read a story about a boy who goes to spend the summer with his grandmother. Ask your child to share any memories of times she has spent with grandparents.
Reading and Questions
Materials: The Raft by Jim LaMarche
Show your child the cover of The Raft by Jim LaMarche. Tell her that just like Kevin Henkes, the author of this book is also the illustrator. Read the "Author's Note" at the beginning and read through the page where the boy discovers the raft. The page ends with the sentence "Where had the raft come from?" Then ask your child the following questions.
  1. Why does the boy not want to stay with his grandma?
    There is no one to play with, and his grandma doesn't even have a TV. He thinks he will be bored and lonely.
  2. What does Grandma call herself?
    a river rat
  3. What is in Grandma's living room?
    She has pictures hanging up everywhere, books scattered, fishing poles all around, and a half-finished wood carving of a bear.
  4. Does the boy enjoy fishing the first time? Why or why not?
    No, because he doesn't catch any fish.
  5. What does the boy find at the river? What is unique about it?
    a wooden raft — it has paintings of wild animals on it