Skills Building: A Different Pond (3-5)

unit 11 Book - A Different Pond

Written by Bao Phi and Illustrated by Thi Bui

TEKS: Reading K.5(F); 1.6(F); 2.6(F); 3.6(F); 4.6(F); 5.6(F)

Pre- Reading Questions 

  1. What are some good ways to start a conversation with a friend or someone you are trying to get to know? 
  2. Who is someone you are interested in having a conversation with today? What is one question that you can ask that person to start the conversation? 
  3. How can you show that you are listening in a conversation? 
  4. What does it mean to be part of a community? What communities are you a part of?

Post- Reading Questions

  1. What conversations did you notice between the characters in the book? 
  2. How did they start conversations? What did the people in the conversations have in common? How were they different? 
  3. What types of communities did we see in the book?  
  4. What feelings did the son express as he spent time fishing and talking with his father? 
  5. In what ways does this story remind you of your life?

Creative Enrichment Activity: Conversation Catchers (3-5)


The best way for students to improve their perspective taking skills is to have conversations with others. Students will create Conversation Catchers and practice asking and answering questions with their classmates. By learning more about one another, we will be more able to see from others points of view and learn that everyone has different perspectives. This activity requires them to tap into their active listening skills.


  • Conversation Catcher handout (1 per student) 
  • Scissors
  • Markers
  • Pencils
  • Tables or flat surfaces

Duration30 Minutes

  • 2 minutes – Introduce the activity
  • 15 minutes – Create Conversation Catchers
  • 10 minutes – Practice with Conversation Catchers
  • 3 minutes – Reflect on the activity

How to Create a Conversation Catcher

How to Use a Conversation Catcher

Instructions – watch video tutorial on how to create the Conversation Catcher

  1. Before the activity, print copies of the Conversation Catcher in color (see sample). 
  2. Have students sit at tables and introduce the activity. 
  3. Pass out Conversation Catchers, scissors, markers and pencils.
  4. Using a pencil, have students write eight questions in the blank spaces in the middle of the Conversation Catcher. Students should write questions that help them learn more about how others think. Some examples are:
    • What is something that makes you frustrated? 
    • Imagine your dream birthday party. 
    • What do you do on the weekends?
    • What makes you happy? 
    • Tell me about a time you felt proud? 
    • What is one food you love? What is one food you hate?
  5. Have students use markers to label the colors in each corner (e.g., on the red circle, students will write “Red” and on the purple circle students will write “Purple”). 
  6. Gather up the markers and pencils and walk students through how to create their Conversation Catchers step-by-step. Doing each step together will prevent students from falling behind or getting confused. 
  7. First, use the scissors to cut out the Conversation Catcher square. 
  8. Fold each corner to the opposite corner. Open the paper up. The creases in the paper should resemble an “x.” 
  9. Fold all the corners to the center of the paper.
  10. Flip the paper over and fold all the corners to the center of the paper once again.
  11. Now, fold the paper in half, horizontally and vertically.
  12. Have students work their fingers into the four corners from the fold side to finish. 
  13. Explain to students how to use the Conversation Catcher and how to hold their fingers in the corners.
  14. First, students will have a partner pick a color. 
  15. Next, the student will spell out the color on the square selected, while opening and closing the Conversation Catcher up and down and side to side as they spell.
  16. Then, their partner will choose one of the numbers that is showing. 
  17. The student will open the Conversation Catcher up and down and side to side as they count the number. 
  18. The partner will pick a new number from the ones showing. 
  19. The student will unfold the Conversation Catcher and read the question associated with that number. 
  20. Finally, they will actively listen as their partner answers the question. Remind students to explain their answers.  
  21. For younger students, have them sit in a circle and have one pair at a time take turns in front of the group while the teacher assists (this can with all students until they feel comfortable doing it on their own). 
  22. Have students practice using their Conversation Catchers and engaging with their classmates. After both partners have gone, they will switch and find new partners. 
  23. Gather students together in a circle after 10 minutes.

Reflection Questions

  • What is one thing that you learned about your partner(s) that you didn’t know before?
  • How did you decide which questions to write in your Conversation Catcher?
  • How did you feel when someone listened to as you talked about yourself? How did you feel when listening to others answer the questions?
  • Did your partner answer the questions exactly the same as how you would answer them? 
  • Why is it important to take the perspective of other people? 
  • How can learning about others help you think from their point of view?
Star Pencil Topper Materials
Star Pencil Topper Example