Dad, the Disco King

Winnie loves her dad. But something crazy happens when he hits the dance floor.

Lexile Level: 450L / Guided Reading: R / DRA Level: 40

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Learning Objective

In this entertaining tale, Marlane Kennedy taps into what it’s like to be mortified by your parents. The story helps students understand the relationship between events in the plot.

Featured Skill


Key Skills

Plot, vocabulary, character, inference, key details

Standards Correlations

This article and lesson support the following standards:

Common Core anchor standards: R.1, R.3, R.4, W.2, SL.1, L.4, L.6

TEKS: 3.2, 3.4, 3.8, 3.20, 3.29, 3.30

Teaching Materials

Storyworks Jr. Author Visit: Marlane Kennedy

Learn about Marlane Kennedy's inspiration for her story "Dad, the Disco King."

Vocabulary Slideshow

Activity Sheets

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Close Reading and Critical Thinking
Pause and Think
Reading Kit: Plot
Reading Kit: Making Inferences

Lesson plan

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Preview Text Features (10 minutes)
• Direct students to examine the illustration on page 14. Ask: What do you think is happening in this picture? What do the title and the illustration tell you about what the story will be about? Point out the subheads and the Pause and Think boxes at the end of each section. Explain that the questions in these boxes will help the students better understand the story.


Set a Purpose for Reading
• The tasks in the Think and Read and Think and Write boxes on pages 14 and 19 work together to support the skill focus. Have one student read the task in each box.
• Read aloud the first Pause and Think box on page 16. These questions will check basic comprehension. (Students will delve into higher-level work with the close-reading questions, available here and online.)


Introduce Vocabulary (15 minutes)

• This story includes seven vocabulary words highlighted in bold: reception, crouched, resolve, convenient, utmost, dim, and clutch.
• The words are defined at the bottom of the column in which they appear. Discuss the meanings of the words, looking at how they are used in the story to help students further understand them.
• Distribute our vocabulary activity for more practice with these words. You can also play our Vocabulary Slideshow.

Reading and Unpacking the Text

First read: Students should read the story through one time for general comprehension. Whether your students read as a class, in small groups, or independently, ask them to answer the Pause and Think questions along the way.
Second read: Distribute the close-reading and critical-thinking questions. (For struggling readers, you can distribute the sheet of Pause and Think questions.) Preview them as a class.
• Have students read the story again, pausing to
answer the questions.


Close-Reading Questions (20 minutes)

• In the first section, what is Winnie’s problem? (plot) Winnie is dreading her uncle’s wedding because she’s afraid her father will dance the way he did at the last wedding they attended.
• In that same section, Jasmine tries to calm Winnie, but Winnie tells Jasmine, “You haven’t met the Disco King yet.” What does Winnie mean? (inference) Winnie is saying that if Jasmine had seen her father dance when he turned into the Disco King, she’d understand why Winnie was so worried.
• In the section “A Smart Tip,” what happens that makes you realize that Winnie cares about how her father feels? (character) When Jasmine suggests Winnie ask him not to dance, Winnie explains that she saw him practicing in the mirror and that she doesn’t want to hurt his feelings by asking him not to dance.
• In “Tipping the DJ,” what surprising thing happens when Winnie tries to tip the DJ with the little money she had left? (plot) The DJ is grateful that Winnie let him know that her uncle doesn’t want to hear disco music, so he doesn’t take the tip she offers.
• In “Dad on the Dance Floor,” what happens that gets in the way of Winnie’s plan? (plot; key details) Winnie’s Uncle Barry asks the DJ to play disco music, and Winnie’s dad runs out to the dance floor.


Critical-Thinking Question (7 minutes)

• At the end of the story, the crowd is having fun with Winnie’s father. Look back to the beginning of the story, when Winnie recalls that everyone at the first wedding was laughing at him. What can you infer about how the guests at that earlier wedding felt about her father? (inference) Now that you see that the crowd at her uncle’s wedding is enjoying her dad’s dancing and having fun learning from him, you can infer that the guests at the first wedding liked him too. Maybe they were laughing because they liked seeing him get so excited about the disco music. And “Disco King” could have been a fun nickname, not a way of making fun of him.


• Call on a volunteer to read aloud the Think and Write box at the bottom of page 19.  
• Distribute our Fiction Reading Kit, which focuses on key reading skills, including our featured skill, plot. Have students work in small groups to complete it.


Teaching Extras

Iconic Dance Moves

Want to give your students an idea of what Winnie is so embarrassed about? While John Travolta’s iconic disco scene from “Saturday Night Fever” isn’t quite appropriate for young kids, you can show this fun flash mob recreation of the dance in the Netherlands.

Sharing Personal Experiences

This story provides an opportunity for a discussion about parents and feeling embarrassed. Open it up by sharing your own story about being embarrassed by your parents (or your kids feeling embarrassed by you!).

Unaccompanied Problem Solving

The story also touches on the idea of children taking matters into their own hands and trying to solve their own problems, without assistance from adults. Though Winnie’s and Jasmine’s plan doesn’t turn out as they’d hoped, how do your students feel about the fact that the girls tried to come up with a solution on their own? Have any of them found themselves working out a problem on their own, and how did it go?

More Marlane

Marlane Kennedy is an accomplished author with many wonderful books to her name. Your students might especially love her Disaster Strikes series!

Teaching Character

This teacher has a genius approach to teaching character. Her post on the Storyworks Ideabook focuses on a fiction story from Storyworks, but it can be used with many fiction stories, including this one!