Lesson Plan & Free Activities for the Book, Potato Pants!

Check out my lesson plan to use with the book, Potato Pants, by Laurie Keller.

I created – and am excited to share! – this Potato Pants! lesson plan to use with the book by Laurie Keller. It includes free printables for teaching what the lesson of a story is and how to summarize.

This book and the activities can be enjoyed year round, but they are also perfect for celebrating Read Across America Day. And if you’d like to find additional lesson plans for K-1 like this one, be sure to check out and download my free reading activities for picture books!

This post contains affiliate links.

Where and When to Do These Activities

I used the activities in this post while we were at home during the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak. But these are great anytime you need digital learning resources OR in-person instruction. 

As a certified K-5 educator who taught kindergarten and first grade, I am sharing what we did in our home to stay on top of curriculum while quarantined at home. Of course, you can use them anytime of year in the home or classroom, too!

PLEASE NOTE: Life is busy as a work-at-home / stay-at-home/ homeschooling mama right now, so my directions here will be brief! Please follow me on Instagram @babblingabby where I will be sharing my daily activities and saving them in a story highlight!

Potato Pants! Lesson Plan on Video

This was an especially fun lesson plan for me because I had the opportunity to teach this lesson LIVE to students and teachers around the country! What a great time I had bringing this silly story to life. 

I hope you’ll watch it, too! Here’s the link: 

ELA LIVE Lesson #4 with Abby Mullins

Teachers, you have my permission to share this post with your students and use the included printables in your digital learning. You will find the printables linked throughout the post!

Engaging young readers with a "TOP SECRET" book cover and Mystery Box!

How to Engage Readers

I love using a good “mystery” to engage students in a lesson. It captures their interest and easily gains their attention. Moreover, it makes them want to know more!

So, before I begin reading, I’ll cover the book with the words TOP SECRET, which prevents them from seeing the book jacket. (In this case, my own children actually destroyed the jacket #eyeroll , but there was still an illustration on the actual book that needed to be covered.)

Using a Mystery Box to Pique Interest

Next, I present the Mystery Box. I explain that what’s inside the box will give them a clue about our learning. For Potato Pants!, I said something along the lines of, “What’s inside this box is going to teach you a lesson!”

Now, this can be any manner of container. I’ve always preferred to use a gable box. Typically, I grab one from a craft store, but this particular one came in a set from Amazon. Absolutely any box or opaque container would do, though.

Use clue cards to help your students guess what's in the Mystery Box.

Incorporate Clue Cards!

Next, I’ll give the box a good shake so that students can hear what’s inside. Sometimes I’ll pass the box around, too. Then, I’ll reveal four clues – one at a time – and have students guess what’s inside after I share a clue.

Sample clue cards

Clue #1 is usually pretty vague, and then the clues get more specific as I work up to showing the last one. Clue #4 is usually the obvious giveaway.

Reveal what's inside your Mystery Box after listening to your student's guesses!

For this lesson, the clue cards read:

  1. brown, bumpy, hard
  2. it’s only hard until heated
  3. grows underground
  4. tastes delicious when mashed

Of course, the students then realize it’s a potato! I’ll connect the potato back to what I originally said before sharing the clues: This potato is going to teach you a lesson!

The awesome picture book, Potato Pants! by Laurie Keller.

Potato Pants! Picture Book

Then, I share the title of the book, Potato Pants! by Laurie Keller. (If you can’t request it from your school library, it is available for purchase through Amazon.)

You can then share the cover art on the book jacket and take a picture walk.

Learning Objectives

Before we read, I’ll set up the learning objectives. This is a good time to clarify definitions and state what the students will learn. I used Potato Pants! to teach what the lesson of the story is and how to summarize. (Here is a similar desktop pocket chart – perfect for virtual teaching or small group instruction! It’s one of my favorite teaching tools!)



Read the Story Aloud

As you saw in the video, I love bringing stories to life. I incorporate a lot of emotion and expression, and, of course, fun voices for the characters. Students LOVE this and it models reading skills like voice and fluency.

Pro Tip: Before reading aloud to students, make notes on sticky notes for each page.

Annotate Ahead of Time

Pro Tip! To help me while I’m reading, I pre-read the story and place sticky note reminders on pages where I want to remind myself to ask a question or point something out. These notes are invaluable if you get caught up in the story and forget the comments you intended to make.

Add sticky notes with questions or comments to books you plan to read aloud to students.

Teaching How to Summarize

After I’ve finished reading the story, we’ll discuss how the story relates to the learning objectives.

First, we’ll summarize the story using the SWBST mnemonic and work through each part together.


Teach students to summarize using the SWBST mnemonic.

Students can complete this activity along with you using this recording sheet. Alternatively, they can easily fold a sheet of paper into five sections and label them with SWBST.

Printable SWBST worksheet to help students learn to summarize.

Teaching the Lesson of a Story

Next, we discuss the lesson that Potato Pants teaches. To help understand what the lesson of the story is, you can post three different questions to your students to help them figure it out. (There are a few, so many responses are acceptable!)


Questions to ask to guide responses:

  • What is the story trying to teach the reader?
  • Why do you think the author wrote the story?
  • How does this story help you?
Download these posters for teaching students about the "Lesson" of a story.

Extending the Lesson

After you’ve finished reading and discussing Potato Pants!, there are several ways to extend the lesson. Here are a few ideas I have:

  • Movement: making your own version of the Po-bot
  • Writing: writing an alternate ending to the story (i.e. what would’ve happened if Potato wouldn’t have forgiven Eggplant?)
  • Directed Drawing: using the directed drawing guide, sketch Potato in his Potato Pants!
A directed drawing of Potato in his Potato Pants!

If you do this Potato Pants lesson plan in at home or in your classroom, I would love to know! Please share it with me by tagging me on Instagram @babblingabby!

Other Posts You May Enjoy

Don’t forget to grab your Mystery Box kit!

I promise, using the Mystery Box in your classroom is sure to provide a high interest inferencing activity that all student will be intrigued by. This increased engagement will help support their learning!

Included in this printable are:

  • 2 pages of Mystery Box Templates that can be printed, cut out, and used on a ANY kind of box! {You don’t have to use all of them 🙂
  • 1 page of Clue Cards
  • 5 Mystery Box Response Sheets
  • 1 page sample Mystery Box pictures
  • 3 pages Sample Lesson Plan with pictures


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Abby is a former kindergarten and first grade teacher who channels her passion for education into creating engaging activities and resources for the kindergarten and first grade classroom. When not dreaming up or working on her next project, you’ll find her enjoying her family – most likely in her minivan on the way to a soccer field.


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Hi, I'm Abby

Hi, I’m Abby! Thanks for stopping by. I love supporting kindergarten and first grade teachers with engaging, skill-based activities that are easy to use in their classrooms. Let me help you be the best teacher you can be!
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