Mini-Lessons for Mañana Iguana

I love when I find a great book that I can use for multiple Writer’s Workshop mini-lessons!

Mañana Iguana by Ann Whitford Paul is one of these books. It’s a version of The Little Red Hen with a Mexican twist. The main character is an iguana and she wants to throw a fiesta, but the Conejo, Tortuga, and Culebra (Rabbit, Turtle, Snake) are too lazy to help. After they aren’t invited to the party as a consequence, they decide to clean up for the iguana while she sleeps, and the next day they’re repaid by having the leftovers.

It’s such a cute book, and the kids love it. In fact, it’s my daughter’s current favorite book and I probably have it memorized from all the times I’ve read it over the past 2 weeks!

Besides being a fun story to read, there are so many skills you can teach from it!

Here are a few: 

  • Compare and Contrast- the obvious skill to practice with this book, as it’s a version of a classic! I included a Venn diagram with cut and paste phrases in the freebie (scroll down).

  • Show, not tell– I LOVE how the author used show, not tell in this book. If you’re not familiar, that’s when an author shows you how the character is feeling rather than tell you (She cried vs. She was sad). You can follow the actions of the Iguana’s tail as she gets more and more upset that no one is helping her. Her tail goes from ‘twitching happily’ to ‘flouncing’ to ‘slapping her tail on the ground’ to ‘smacking her tail on the ground so hard, she puffed up a cloud of dirt.’ Another example of Show, not Tell is when the characters hide when feeling ashamed/remorseful. Conejo ‘hurries to hide,’ Tortuga ‘shrinks into his shell,’ and Culebra ‘slithers under a rock.’ The illustrations are terrific, too, so if you have beginning writers, they can find Show, not Tell in the illustrations, and apply it to their own. I’ve included some slips you can use for a lesson on Show, Not Tell in the freebie as well.

  • Making Predictions- After the fiesta, Conejo has an idea he shares with his banished pals. They agree to start it, but the reader doesn’t know what it is until the next page. This would be a great spot to have kids turn and talk, or even write their prediction before reading the rest of the book.

  • For higher grades-If you have a writing unit on adapting fairy tales, this is great for discussing changes made that are based on adapting the setting. One of the mini-lessons we teach is how changing the setting of a classic story causes a domino effect with other elements. For example, since the setting is a Mexican desert instead of a farm, the characters are animals you’d find in a desert. Instead of bread, the goal is a fiesta. Instead of threshing wheat, etc., she fills a piñata, etc. You can make an anchor chart for this book as a class, and have kids brainstorm changes for their adaptation on individual graphic organizers.

This book is definitely a keeper. Share some of your favorites with me- I’d love to add them to my library!

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