Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco
Ideas by Heather G

Anticipation Activity #1

I think that focusing questions would work really well for this book. If you are teaching students in states that are neighbors of Michigan you can start by talking about the thunderstorms in your area (if you don't live somewhere near Michigan you can still talk about storms in your area). You can ask the students how they feel during a thunderstorm. You can also ask them if any of the adults in their lives have told them what thunder is such as angels bowling, God roller skating, etc. I think that these kinds of questions will really get students into the mindset of young Patricia in the story that way they are already invested in the story before you even start reading it.

Anticipation Activity #2
You can start off your class by putting up the Thunder Cake poster ( from Patricia Polacco's website After allowing your class to look at the poster and examine it for a few minute you can draw a K-W-L chart up on the board. I think it would also be great to divide the class into pairs so that your students can Think-Pair-Share. Ask your students what they think Thunder Cake is about based on the poster. The Think-Pair-Share groups allow students to start discussing what they thought the book might be about before voicing their ideas to the entire class. Many times the predictions your students come up with will surprise their classmates and you too!

Building Knowledge #1
You can have students play vocabulary bingo while you read the book to them. Make various bingo cards (go to for the easiest way to create the cards) for your students using the vocabulary words from the book:
Horizon, Thunder, Disguise, Rumbled, Delivery, Bolt, Dispatch, Weather, Lightning, Babushka, Brave, Ingredients, Recipe, Russia, Sultry, and Trellis. (You can customize the words to fit your class so feel free to add or subtract terms.)
Then have your students look over the card before you read the book to them. Make sure that you all say the words aloud so that the students know what the words sound like. While you read the book the students will keep track of the vocabulary words used during the story. Then, instead of yelling bingo and interrupting the flow of the book have students raise their hands when they have a bingo.

Building Knowledge Activity #2
I have made a fun worksheet to keep students involved in the reading of Thunder Cake that has them write the ingredients and then the steps to making thunder cake. I also connected the story to their own experiences by asking them if there are any special recipes in their family and when they make this recipe. This offers a great opportunity to share family experiences and can lead to a family food day where each student brings in their family's special recipe.

Consolidation Activity #1
I think that one of the most effective ways to bring closure to this story would be to actually make a thunder cake. You can assign students ingredients to bring and work something out with your lunch ladies to use the oven for an hour. A great addition to this would be to have the students draw a picture of themselves making a thunder cake with their grandmother or mother. This way you are incorporating two other senses into this great book.

Consolidation Activity #2
Another great way to make connections to the book and aid comprehension is a story map. This helps the students recall the main points of the story: setting, characters, problems, attempts at solving the problem, the solution, and the consequences of the solution.