Beacon Lesson Plan Library

A Tacky Cheer

Donna Rugg
Orange County Schools


Would you make a good cheerleader? In this lesson, students make predictions, copy cheers, and make inferences as they read a story about an odd bird and his awkward attempts to help his fellow penguins win a cheering contest.


The student makes connections and inferences based on text and prior knowledge (for example, order of events, possible outcomes).


-Big book and class set of [Three Cheers for Tacky] by Helen Lester, New York. Scott, Foresman. 1996.
-Pair of pompoms
-Chart paper
-Copy of criteria on overhead transperency (in associated file)-optional


1. If you do not have a pair of pompoms, one can be made using long strips of colored paper. The strips can be collectively folded in half, stapled, and taped to a dowel stick.
2. Have chart paper attached on a wall or board ready for listing student ideas.
3. The big book and class set of [Three Cheers for Tacky] should be readily accessible.
4. Students should each have a pencil and a learning log.
5. You may choose to make a copy of the criteria (listed in the associated file) onto an overhead transparency.


1. Stand in front of the class with a set of pompoms and ask the students if they have ever seen a cheerleader. After brief discussion, perform a simple hello cheer (example: “H” – pompoms and arms up and stretched out; “E” – pompoms and arms outstretched; “L” – pompoms and arms stretched down and crossed over one another; “L” – pompoms and arms stay down but are crossed the other way; “O” – feet out with one pom up and one pom down.)

2. Allow one or two students to come to the front of the room while the other students stand behind their desks to perform the cheer.

3. Distribute the book [Three Cheers for Tacky]. A big book can be located in front of the room for teacher use. After looking at the cover and title, the ask the students to predict what they think the story is about. Record the student responses on chart paper. During this time point out that no prediction is right or wrong.

4. Once predictions are recorded take a picture walk through the book and record more predictions on the chart. Ask guided questions, such as: Do the other penguins look happy here? This may assist students in this prediction step. At this point, students are predicting the sequence of events, possible problems, and possible outcomes. Examples of some of the predictions students might make are:
One of the penguins doesn't do anything right.
The other penguins don't like him.
Everyone learned to like the odd penguin in the end.

5. Read half of the book and then stop to see if the students want to change their predictions.

6. Allow one or two students to come to the front of the room and imitate the cheers that Tacky tried to do.

7. Continue reading until you come to the part that describes the first penguin team cheer in the cheering contest. Ask the class, “How do you think the judges felt about the first team's cheer?”

8. Continue the same procedure with each penguin teams’ cheer, including Tacky’s team.

9. Review predictions with the class and discusses the reason Tacky’s team was worried in the beginning.

10. Have the class brainstorm words used to describe some of the feelings and actions of Tacky’s teammates and feelings. Include actions of the judges during the practicing and performance of the cheers.

11. Have the students write paragraphs in their learning logs describing why Tacky’s team was worried and how they knew that the judges liked Tacky’s cheer and not the cheers of the other penguin teams. They can use some of the words that were listed in the brainstorming step above.

12. Share the assessment criteria (listed in the associated file) and individually conference with students to provide feedback. You may desire to make a copy of this criteria for students to view on the overhead projector.


As a formative assessment, the students produce paragraphs in their learning journals whereby they infer how the judges felt about Tacky’s cheer and about the other penguin teams’ cheers by recalling some of the actions of the judges. They also discuss the central theme of the story by making the connection that Tacky’s team was worried about winning the cheering contest, because Tacky was too odd or clumsy. This information is shown by using some of the words listed on the board during the brainstorming section of instructions.

Formatively assess the journal entries based on the following criteria.

Acceptable: paragraph adequately addresses the central theme by using one or more descriptors from the brainstorming list and listing the action that supports this inference.

Good: paragraph also uses at least two descriptors from the brainstorming list and actions that support inference of the judges feelings for: 1) other penguin teams’ cheers, and 2) Tacky’s team cheer. (There should be one descriptor for #1, and one for #2)).

Outstanding: entire paragraph should contain at least three descriptors from the brainstorming list and two inferences supporting the feelings of judges.


For ESOL or ESE students, allow extra time and help from a special education teacher (if possible).

As a follow up activity, students may want to invent a cheer for key vocabulary words or spelling words

Attached Files

This is a formative assessment to check criteria listed.     File Extension: pdf

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