Pinky and Rex

By connecting with the characters from the easily relatable series Pinky and Rex, students learn that it's okay to be different and consider what it means to be a good friend.

Unit Summary

As part of the upgrade to Fishtank Plus, this unit was revised in October 2020. Some texts, materials, and questions may have changed as part of the revision. If you are looking for the 2019 version of this unit, visit our archives.

In this unit, students grapple with common 2nd grade themes through reading the easily relatable series Pinky and Rex. Through connecting with Pinky and Rex, students will learn that it is okay to be different and to be proud of who they are, no matter what others may think. Students will also learn about what it truly means to be a good friend and how friends can support and stick up for one another in a variety of ways. They will also see that it is okay for boys and girls to be friends, even best friends. This unit builds onto multiple units from 1st grade in which students learned what it means to be a good friend and a good person. It is our hope that this unit deepens the understandings developed in previous grades by giving students characters to connect with. These connections are especially important for students who are struggling with some of the same issues and are not sure how to process or talk about them.

This unit is a transition from units that were predominately read aloud to a unit that is almost entirely shared or independent reading. Pinky and Rex are perfect texts for second graders, not only because of the important themes they teach but because of the way in which James Howe develops character and plot over the course of the series. As readers, students will be challenged to notice the descriptive details James Howe includes to show how characters feel in response to different problems and challenges. They will also be challenged to notice how a character’s dialogue shows what they are truly feeling and how the different “said” words James Howe includes deepens that understanding. Students will also begin to analyze why certain words in a text are written in italics and what that shows about how a character is feeling. This deep dive into character will allow students to truly understand the characters and the lessons that they are learning. By reading four books in the series, students will also have the chance to see how characters develop over the course of multiple texts. By the fourth text, students will have a deeper, more nuanced understanding of all three major characters.

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Texts and Materials

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Core Materials

See Text Selection Rationale

Assessment

This assessment accompanies this unit and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.

Unit Prep

Essential Questions

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  • What does it mean to be best friends?
    • Best friends support and help each other, no matter the situation.
    • Best friends sometimes fight, but they always apologize and forgive each other.
    • Best friends like to have the same things.
    • You can be best friends with someone who is different from you.
  • Why is it important to stand up for yourself and what you believe?
    • It is important to stand up for yourself and what you believe because everyone is different. Being different is okay! When you stand up for yourself, you feel powerful and confident. And more importantly, you feel happy because you get to be yourself.

Foundational Skills

Phonics and Word Recognition Focus Areas

  • Decode regularly spelled two-syllable words with long vowels
  • Decode words with common inflectional endings (-ed, -ing, -ly)
  • Recognize and read grade-appropriate irregularly spelled words
  • Decode and recognize contractions and compound words.

For the most part, the Pinky and Rex series books are written with decodable language. However, there are a few areas of complexity within each text. Therefore, targeted phonics and word recognition models should be added to help support students’ ability to decode and understand the core text. After a word analysis strategy is introduced, it should be spiraled and reinforced across all texts and lessons.

Fluency Focus Areas

  • Use proper intonation to show interpretation of the text.
  • Read with expression and volume to match interpretation of the passage.

The main focus of this unit is on reading with expression, particularly character dialogue, in order to show understanding of the text. In all four core texts the character dialogue reveals a lot about character motivations, feelings, and perspectives. Therefore, a large focus of this unit should be on including opportunities for students to practice rereading dialogue with intonation, expression, and volume to match interpretation of the passage.

Writing Focus Areas

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Sentence-Level Focus Areas

  • Use the conjunctions “because,” “but,” and “so” to write complex sentences.

In this unit, students will use the power of basic conjunctions—“because,” “but,” and “so”—to craft more complex sentences. While the “because,” “but,” and “so” format guides students in writing complex sentences, using these conjunctions also pushes them to think critically and deeply about the content of the unit. We recommend continuing to use our guide Sentence-Level Feedback and Support to provide individual and small-group feedback throughout the unit.

Opinion Writing Focus Areas

  • Brainstorm and outline details
  • Differentiate topic sentences from supporting sentences

This is the first opinion-writing unit in 2nd Grade Literature. Students will focus on brainstorming their opinions and developing strong details that support those opinions. Also, they learn to decide what makes a strong topic sentence and how that is different from a supporting sentence.

Vocabulary

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Text-based

"stormed away" annoying apologize beamed chattered declared dreading forgive glared groaned grump helplessly insisted mocking mumbled muttered scowled screeching self-conscious sighed smirking snickered sulk urged

Root/Affix

-ly self-

Academic

opinion

Related Teacher Tools:

Content Knowledge and Connections

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  • Pinky and Rex is a chapter book series. Books in a series often build on each other. We learn more about the characters and their feelings, motivations, traits, and relationships in each book. They might change or develop as you read more books in a series.
  • Having a best friend helps you face life’s challenges. Best friends support and help each other, no matter the situation. Sometimes best friends are similar, but they are often different from each other and that is okay. Best friends can get into arguments, but they always apologize and forgive each other.
  • It is important to stand up for yourself and what you believe because everyone is different. Being different is okay! When you stand up for yourself, you feel powerful and confident. And more importantly, you feel happy because you get to be yourself.

Lesson Map

1

  • P&R — Chapter 1

    RL.2.3

    RL.2.5

    RF.2.4

Describe Pinky and Rex’s relationship and Pinky and Amanda’s relationship by using details from the text to describe characters and character relationships.

2

  • P&R — Chapter 2

    RL.2.3

    RF.2.4

    L.2.5.b

Describe Pinky and Rex’s relationship by using details from the text to describe characters and character relationships.

3

  • P&R — Chapter 3

    RL.2.3

    RL.2.6

    RF.2.4

    L.2.5.b

Explain how Amanda’s dialogue shows how she feels about being at the museum by using dialogue and details to show how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

4

  • P&R — Chapter 4

    RL.2.2

    RL.2.3

    RF.2.4

Describe the lesson that Amanda, Pinky, and Rex learned by using details to describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges and what lesson they learn from the major events.

5

  • P&R

    RL.2.3

    RL.2.5

    W.2.1

    SL.2.1

    SL.2.2

    SL.2.6

Describe Pinky, Rex, and Amanda and how each character responds to major events and challenges by stating a claim and then providing supporting evidence from the entire text.

6

  • P&R and the Bully — Chapters 1-2

    RL.2.3

    RF.2.4

Explain why Pinky is embarrassed by what happens with Mrs. Morgan by using details to describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

7

  • P&R and the Bully — Chapters 3-4

    RL.2.3

    RF.2.4

Explain in what ways Kevin is a bully and how his actions influence everyone around him, especially Pinky, by using details to describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

8

  • P&R and the Bully — Chapter 5

    RL.2.3

    RF.2.4

Explain what advice Mrs. Morgan gave Pinky and why by using details to describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

9

  • P&R and the Bully — Chapters 6-7

    RL.2.2

    RL.2.3

    RF.2.4

Explain how Pinky changed and what lesson he learned by using details to describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges and what lesson they learn from the major events.

10

  • P&R and the Bully

    RL.2.3

    RL.2.5

    W.2.1

    SL.2.1

    SL.2.2

    SL.2.6

Describe Pinky, Rex, and Amanda and how each character responds to major events and challenges by stating a claim and then providing supporting evidence from the entire text.

11

  • P&R and the Spelling Bee — Chapters 1-2

    RL.2.3

    RF.2.4

Explain how Pinky and Rex feel about the spelling bee and how their feelings change by using details to describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

12

  • P&R and the Spelling Bee — Chapters 3-4

    RL.2.3

    RF.2.4

Describe how Pinky’s feelings change over the course of the chapters and what causes the change by using details to describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

13

  • P&R and the Spelling Bee — Chapters 5-6

    RL.2.2

    RL.2.3

    RF.2.4

Explain how Pinky and Rex changed and what lesson they learned by using details to describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges and what lesson they learn from the major events.

14

  • P&R and the Spelling Bee

    RL.2.3

    RL.2.5

    W.2.1

    SL.2.1

    SL.2.2

    SL.2.6

Describe Pinky, Rex, and Amanda and how each character responds to major events and challenges by stating a claim and then providing supporting evidence from the entire text.

15

  • P&R and the School Play — Chapters 1-2

    RL.2.3

    RF.2.4

Explain why Pinky is mad at Rex and if it is fair that he is mad at her by using details to describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

16

  • P&R and the School Play — Chapters 3-4

    RL.2.2

    RL.2.3

    RF.2.4

Explain how Pinky and Rex changed and what lesson they learned by using details to describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges and what lesson they learn from the major events.

17

  • P&R and the School Play — Chapters 5-6

    RL.2.2

    RL.2.3

    RF.2.4

Describe what happens during the play and what lesson Pinky and Rex learn by using details to describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges and what lesson they learn from the major events.

18

  • P&R and the School Play

    RL.2.3

    RL.2.5

    W.2.1

    SL.2.1

    SL.2.2

    SL.2.6

Describe Pinky, Rex, and Amanda and how each character responds to major events and challenges by stating a claim and then providing supporting evidence from the entire text.

19

  • All unit texts

    SL.2.1

    SL.2.2

    SL.2.6

Debate two essential questions by participating in a class discussion by stating a claim and providing evidence from the unit.

20

5 days

Writing

  • All unit texts

    W.2.1

    W.2.5

    L.2.2

Argue whether or not kids and robots can be best friends using details about Pinky and Rex’s relationship from the entire Pinky and Rex series. 

21

  • All unit texts

    RL.2.6

Apply deep knowledge of characters gained from the unit in order to create a Facebook page showing their relationships, character traits, and likes/dislikes.

22

Assessment

Common Core Standards

Language Standards
  • L.2.1 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

  • L.2.2 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

  • L.2.4 — Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 2 reading and content, choosing flexibly from an array of strategies.

  • L.2.5 — Demonstrate understanding of word relationships and nuances in word meanings.

  • L.2.5.b — Distinguish shades of meaning among closely related verbs (e.g., toss, throw, hurl) and closely related adjectives (e.g., thin, slender, skinny, scrawny).

  • L.2.6 — Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts, including using adjectives and adverbs to describe (e.g., When other kids are happy that makes me happy).

Reading Standards for Literature
  • RL.2.1 — Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.

  • RL.2.2 — Recount stories, including fables and folktales from diverse cultures, and determine their central message, lesson, or moral.

  • RL.2.3 — Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

  • RL.2.5 — Describe the overall structure of a story, including describing how the beginning introduces the story and the ending concludes the action.

  • RL.2.6 — Acknowledge differences in the points of view of characters, including by speaking in a different voice for each character when reading dialogue aloud.

  • RL.2.9 — Compare and contrast two or more versions of the same story (e.g., Cinderella stories) by different authors or from different cultures.

  • RL.2.10 — By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories and poetry, in the grades 2—3 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.

Reading Standards: Foundational Skills
  • RF.2.4 — Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

Speaking and Listening Standards
  • SL.2.1 — Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 2 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

  • SL.2.2 — Recount or describe key ideas or details from a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.

  • SL.2.6 — Produce complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation in order to provide requested detail or clarification.

Writing Standards
  • W.2.1 — Write opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic or book they are writing about, state an opinion, supply reasons that support the opinion, use linking words (e.g., because, and, also) to connect opinion and reasons, and provide a concluding statement or section.

  • W.2.5 — With guidance and support from adults and peers, focus on a topic and strengthen writing as needed by revising and editing.

  • W.2.8 — Recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.