Gus Gets Scared and Activities

aaaWeekly Trip to the Library

Have the kids you cared for ever been scared? Of course they have. That’s why Gus Gets Scared is a great book to read with your charges.

Gus is an adventurous little rhino who has just gotten a new tent. Will he be brave enough to sleep outside all night? Gus Gets Scared teaches young readers a lesson about the excitement and fears of trying new experiences. The book provides an opportunity to teach kids how to “read” illustrations and how to identify story elements.

Gus has a new tent in his backyard. He loves it so much that he never wants to leave. His mom brings out his lunch. Gus brings out his toys. Even when it gets dark and cold, Gus wants to sleep in the tent.

His mom and dad say that he is very brave. But soon, Gus doesn’t feel so brave. It’s dark and there are strange sounds. Gus goes inside to get his dad. Dad falls asleep in the tent, but when Gus gets scared he goes inside and crawls into bed with his mom. When the sun comes up, Gus’s dad wakes up. Where’s Gus? Safe and warm inside!

The simple text and bright illustrations make this a perfect book for students just beginning to read.

Picture Talk

Model for young readers how to look closely at the illustrations in this picture book to learn about what is happening in the story. Prompt children to “read” the illustration by asking the following questions: Who do you think Gus is? Who do you think the other characters are? What is Gus’s mom doing? What is Gus’s dad doing? Where is Gus and his tent? How do you think Gus feels? Encourage students to add any more ideas they have about the illustration.

Preview and Predict

Ask students to read the title of the book and think about the picture. What do they predict might happen in the story?


Introduce your charges to these opposite words from the book. Ask them to watch for these vocabulary words as they read. Tell them to use clues in the pictures to help them figure out what the words mean. Write them on index cards. Then have the kids mix up the words and match the opposites.

brave having courage
scared being frightened
outside outdoors
inside indoors
day when the sun is out
night when the sky is dark

Play Opposite Game

Tell students they are going to play a game about opposites. Read the examples below and have students fill in the last word.

1. The opposite of up is __________________.
2. The opposite of tall is __________________.
3. The opposite of dry is __________________.
4. The opposite of hot is __________________.
5. The opposite of hard is _________________.

Write the opposites on index cards and have the kids play matching games.

Read Aloud

Read the book aloud with fluency and expression. Have students follow along in their own books, looking carefully at each illustration as you read a page.

When you reread the book, and ask the children to read it at the same time. Cue them to read aloud certain words and phrases that you omit from your reading. If children can read along with you, or without you, let them.

1. Picture Book
Find the picture that shows when Gus gets scared by a sound. Explain what is happening in the picture. (Answer: It is dark out and an owl begins to go “Whoooooo.” Then Gus gets scared.)

2. Story Elements
Where is the story set when Gus goes inside? (Answer: Gus is in his mom’s bedroom.)

3. Opposites
What is in the sky during the day? (Answer: the sun) What is in the sky during the night? (Answer: the moon)

Ask the Kids:

1. Text to Self
Would you like to spend a night in a tent outside? Why or why not?

2. Text to World
What are other times that kids like Gus might get scared?

3. Text to Text
Do you think that a little rhino named Gus really lives in a house and wears clothes? Is this a true story or a make-believe story?

Make a Tent

Give your charges construction paper, tape, and crayons or markers. Ask them to make a tent. Allow time for trial and error and have students share how they folded the paper and set the tent up. Next, encourage them to decorate the tents to make them their own special places.

Make a Fort

Put a blanket over some chairs in the kids’ bedroom and pretend to be Gus camping out in his tent in his backyard.

Night Animals

While hanging out in your fort/tent ask the kids what animal Gus heard at night. Explain that an owl is a night animal, or a nocturnal animal. Other night animals are raccoons, bats, and crickets. Read a book with nocturnal animals sounds.



You can purchase the book by clicking a link above or below:

Scholastic Reader Pre-Level 1: Gus Gets Scared

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