John Reynolds Gardiner's classic Stone Fox is an amazing book to incorporate into your winter reading instruction. Ideal as a book club or literature circle text for upper elementary, younger readers can enjoy the text as a whole-class novel study or read aloud. No matter which way you decide to use it, your students will love this Stone Fox novel study.
Many schools teach a unit on the Iditarod, a famous dog sled race held in Alaska each year. This text is perfect for building cross-curricular connections and making comparisons between fiction and non-fiction texts.
To save planning time, you can use this no-prep Stone Fox Novel Study Unit to teach important reading comprehension skills as you work through the story.
If you need a copy of the book, you can purchase copies of Stone Fox on Amazon. (This link is an
What you'll find on this page:
Stone Fox Summary
The story centers around a ten-year-old boy named Willy and takes place on his grandfather's potato farm in Wyoming. When Willy's grandfather becomes too ill and depressed to get out of bed or even speak, Willy and his dog, Searchlight, must harvest the potato crops themselves. As they work to get the supplies they need to do this, Willy discovers his grandfather's closely guarded secret – they're broke.
Willy and Searchlight work together to overcome these challenges, but they struggle to find a way to come up with the money needed to keep the government from seizing Grandfather's farm. Then Willy comes up with a plan to enter the National Dogsled Race, which includes a cash prize for the winner.
Despite taking on the best dogsled racers in the country, Willy's bravery and determination shine through as he and Searchlight make their way through the treacherous terrain. However, tragedy strikes as they approach the finish line. Will Willy be able to save his grandfather's farm?
What reading level is Stone Fox?
This book is 96 pages and is a Guided Reading Level P (Lexile 610L). Appropriate for third through fifth graders, the book is considered to be high-interest for students in grades 2-5.
What's included in this novel study unit?
This book companion focuses on reading comprehension activities and vocabulary. It includes two weeks worth of lessons and paper-saving printables. Here's what you'll find inside:
- Instructional guide with daily comprehension skill, objective, and key Tier 2 & text-based vocabulary
- Comprehension trifolds (provided in color and black & white)
- Reader's Notebook Comprehension Prompts (matching trifolds)
- Word of the Day Text-based Vocabulary flipbooks
- Trifold answer keys for easy grading
Reading comprehension skills targeted
The novel study
Some of the comprehension skills addressed in this novel study include:
- Sequencing to retell
- Analyzing character traits
- Point of view
- Problem and solution
- Analyzing setting
- Context clues and vocabulary
- Using descriptive language
- Evaluating conclusions
Each day's lesson focuses on a single comprehension skill, allowing your learners to focus deeply on mastering the skill. This helps make sure your students understand and can apply their knowledge to the text and other texts they read.
How are the comprehension activities covered?
The daily comprehension prompts for Stone Fox are provided in two formats. These formats were selected to reduce copies needed while still offering materials for student use.
Here's a little more about each of the formats:
The trifold format was the original design for this novel study.
Each foldable was designed to cover a week worth of comprehension using only one piece of paper.
Students are given a targeted question each day that focuses the day's reading on the comprehension skill.
The benefit of the trifold format is that it is extremely approachable to students. Each day only takes up a third of the page, and this keeps reluctant writers from shutting down.
This also makes it easy to collect and grade. Many students use the trifold as a bookmark, helping prevent missing papers.
The Reader's Notebook prompts are perfect for students who are advanced and need more space to provide in-depth analysis or need more space to write their responses.
For advanced readers, the notebook prompts can be used to generate a longer, more detailed response to the daily prompt. This pushes the students to analyze and defend their answers.
However, the notebook prompts are also great for students with dyslexia, dysgraphia, and fine motor issues because they can be glued onto specialized paper or within a notebook to give students with large handwriting more room to respond.
Regardless of the format selected, the prompt is the same so you can easily have some students working on the trifolds while others use the notebook prompts.
What academic vocabulary is included in this novel study?
There are over 40 academic vocabulary words included in the instructional guide for this novel.
These include general academic vocabulary and skill-specific vocabulary. A sample of the included terms is shown below:
- graphic organizer
- context clue
- main idea
- point of view
Why include academic vocabulary?
Tier 2 vocabulary, also called academic language, is one of the biggest barriers to student success in school.
The research on the impact of academic vocabulary clearly shows we must take the time to explicitly teach these words to our students.
To make it easy, I outline key Tier 2 words for each skill. This allows you to incorporate these words into your novel study discussions.
It also means you can explicitly teach students their meaning if you are working with struggling students or English Language Learners (ELLs).
Many teachers like to pre-teach this vocabulary to help struggling students start the text on equal footing with their peers.
Text-based vocabulary in Stone Fox
In addition to the Tier 2 vocabulary, each day's lesson includes a text-based vocabulary word that can be found within the day's reading.
Some of the text-based vocabulary words included in Stone Fox literature guide include:
These words can be taught using the included flipbook format. Designed with conserving copies in mind, the flipbooks require only a half-piece of paper per week.
The Word of the Day Flip Book is designed for use in interactive reading journals.
To use the flipbooks, your students cut around the flipbook, cut the tabs, and glue it into their notebook. Have students leave the tabs unglued so they can be lifted. This allows students to write under them.
Depending on your students, you can have them generate a definition of the day's word or generate a list of synonyms and antonyms.
You can even have students draw a picture of the meaning.