Building Vocabulary with Geronimo Stilton

Lesson Plan Title:
Building Vocabulary with Geronimo Stilton

Grade Levels: 2-4

Student Goal:

  1. Students will examine unfamiliar vocabulary words in the Geronimo Stilton books.
  2. Students will use different strategies to decipher vocabulary words and their meanings.

Student Objectives:

  1. Students will recognize word meanings.
  2. Students will analyze word relationships.
  3. Students will incorporate vocabulary words in their own writing.
  4. Students will record and examine unfamiliar words on a regular basis as independent readers.


  1. Geronimo Stilton books
  2. pens, pencils
  3. writing paper
  4. bookmark
  5. dictionary

Use the Geronimo Stilton series to promote students’ vocabulary development and reading comprehension. By encountering new vocabulary in different and meaningful contexts, readers will learn to decipher terms and retain their understanding of them.

1. Read aloud 1-3 chapters of a Geronimo Stilton book, or assign them as independent reading. Have students use their own books to follow along with you (or read on their own). Using a pencil, they should highlight noteworthy words at the same time. Invite them to circle vocabulary words they don’t know, draw a squiggly underline beneath words they find confusing, and boldly underline words and details they feel are important.

Note: If you do not want students to mark up their books, they may keep track of challenging words by using a printable bookmark. Distribute copies of the bookmark and ask students to write down unfamiliar words, along with corresponding page numbers, on the lines provided. You may laminate their bookmark so that it can be wiped off and reused, or they may wish to print out a new bookmark for every book they read.

2. Pause at the end of each paragraph that contains a difficult word. Then help students determine its meaning by asking them to do the following:
  • Slow down, reread, or read aloud quietly. Point out that listening to oneself read the text can be very helpful.

  • Use the context to figure out its meaning. The sentences that come before or after a vocabulary word can offer clues.
    "In the meantime, Thea had grabbed a sheet of paper and was scribbling down tasks for all of us. 'Geronimo, you will take care of provisions. You’ll gather fruit, berries, and roots. You’ll also fish for crabs.' " [page 74, Lost Treasure of the Emerald Eye]

    The sentences that follow the word “provisions” suggest that it means food.
  • Guess the meaning using prior knowledge or replace the vocabulary word with one that seems to fit.

    "The castle was surrounded by a deep moat filled with slimy green water." [page 8, Cat and Mouse in a Haunted House]

    The phrase “filled with slimy green water” may suggest that words such as “pool” or “ditch” are suitable as a substitute for “moat.”

  • Use headings, illustrations, captions, and other text features to figure out the meaning of a vocabulary word. For example, an illustration of a huge, imposing creature on page 73 of I’m Too Fond of My Fur can help students decipher the word “humongous” in the accompanying caption, “A tall, dark, humongous shadow appeared before my eyes!”

3. Tell students to look up each vocabulary word in a dictionary to see if they were correct about its meaning. Point out that even the most experienced readers do this, because they don’t always recognize every word they encounter. If students still need help, encourage them to ask you or classmates for support. Then have volunteers read aloud the words they highlighted and discuss how the strategies above helped them figure out their meanings.

Lesson Extension:
1. Have students demonstrate their understanding of each vocabulary word by creating a word web based on it. They can jot down the word in the center and then expand upon it by writing synonyms, definitions, and/or sentences from books where the students found the word. They may also wish to focus on synonyms and antonyms for a chosen vocabulary word by making a T-chart. They can label one column “Is” and the other “Is Not,” then write synonyms in the first column and antonyms in the second.

Assess Students: 

Teacher Observation: Did highlighting difficult words help students identify problems while developing vocabulary skills? Were they able to recognize word meanings using the strategies outlined above?

Evaluate Lesson:

  1. Were the students successful or frustrated?
  2. Could the students decipher the meanings of vocabulary words using context, prior knowledge, and text features such as captions and illustrations?
  3. Did students successfully demonstrate their understanding of vocabulary words by incorporating them in graphic organizers and/or original writing?

1. Have students write an original sentence about a Geronimo Stilton character using one of their vocabulary words. Ask them to support their sentence with details. Here is an example:

"Trap Stilton can be obnoxious to his cousin Geronimo. Trap likes to make fun of him and play practical jokes. Geronimo always complains about Trap. He does not think Trap’s jokes are funny."