Dragons Don’t Eat Those Tacos!

I couldn’t resist. I just had to make the first Family Dinner with a Side of Literacy blog post using the popular children’s picture book Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin. Our family adores it. Well, that, and tacos!

 “Let’s Start with the Side”

Book: Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin

Age Level: Approximately age 2 – 7. This blog post & activities have primarily been crafted with pre-readers in mind.

Side Dish Reading for Mom & Dad: Getting the Most Out of Picture Books

Literacy Activities:

Before Reading the Book as a Family:

  • Play “What’s That?” Point to various object on the front cover (Dragon, Tacos, Letters) and ask the child what they think they are.
  • Read the title aloud and discuss what foods your child likes and dislikes.
  • Encourage your child to tell you what they think will happen in the story by simply looking at the front cover. You can aid in this endeavor by helping them look for foreshadowing clues that may have been left in the illustrations.

While Reading the Book as a Family:

  • Periodically ask you child what they think will happen next in the story. Be sure to look at illustrations and look for foreshadowing clues.
  • Try to move beyond just having your child name objects in the pictures – ask them what is happening in the illustrations.

After Reading the Book as a Family:

  • Questions to ask you Child:
    • What did the dragons do to the house?
    • Why did the house catch on fire?
    • What are some good toppings for tacos? What do you like on your tacos?
    • Have you ever eaten something spicy? What did it make your mouth feel like?
  • Try to lead your child through the process of retelling the story in their own words. What happened to those silly dragons?

Parents, Add  A Side Dish of Literacy to Your Home:  With a home that includes pre- and beginning readers word walls/labeling is a valuable tool to aid with vocabulary development. Word walls and labels aren’t simply for classrooms or teachers. Consider using a word wall in your own home.  Possibly start in your kitchen as you prepare tonight’s meal! Below you will find some resources for word walls.

 Family Fun Activity:

  1. Listen, dance and sing to the song Dragons Love Tacos. As a family, try to make up motions to the song.
  2. Play taco, taco, dragon (also known as duck, duck, goose – just change up the words!)
  3. Tell each other silly dragon jokes.
    1. Knock, knock!
      Who’s there?
      Taco who?
      I don’t want to taco about it.
    2. Knock, knock!
      Who’s there?
      Nacho who?
      That’s not ‘cho taco, and that’s not ‘cho dragon, either!
    3. Knock, knock!
      Who’s there?
      Thumping who?
      Thumping tells me we’ve told enough dragon and taco knock knock jokes.
    4. Knock, knock!
      Who’s there?
      Ben who?
      Ben waiting all day for a taco!
    5. Knock, knock!
      Who’s there?
      Olive who?
      Olive tacos.
    6. Nacho: Why will you not taco to me? > Taco: Because I’m nacho friend
    7. What sound do you hear when dragons eat spicy salsa? >A fire alarm
    8. Why are dragons good storytellers? > They all have tails
    9. Why did the chef feed the dragon spicy salsa? > She needed to barbeque some chicken

“For the Main Dish”

The Recipe:

Of course, there are some terrific taco recipes and toppings out there (Fish tacos, Tacos Carne Asada, Pico del Gallo, and let’s not forget about the other amazing cilantro and pepper infused toppings or amazing homemade shell recipes).  However, we are aiming to please the entire family tonight. So, for tonight’s family dinner we will be keeping the recipe extremely easy: American style beef tacos. Boring, maybe? If your children have a sophisticate pallet — by all means, up your game for tonight’s tacos. However, we will be going straight boring tonight to please our very picky toddler.

In the end, there really is no recipe to follow tonight. All you need is to assess your family’s likes and dislikes. Does your family only prefer the taco toppings like in the book (lettuce, cheese and tomato – great questions to ask your children while you cook!)?

Of course, the first Family Consumer Science step for any cooking endeavor would be for the entire family to wash their hands. Sing the Dragons love Tacos song the entire time you wash your hands to ensure that the germs are properly defeated!

  1. Brown your favorite meat (this is a job for Mom or Dad!).
  2. Add your preferred taco seasonings to the meat.
  3. Heat up you taco shells in the oven. This step could involve you child! Let them count the shells (math literacy!) and line them up on a baking sheet. Did they get enough for everyone in the family?
  4. Place all of your toppings in bowls (cheese, sour cream, tomatoes, taco sauce, guacamole, etc.) – another child friendly step!
  5. Allow each family member to build their tacos. Remember, a messy kitchen = a fun family night!
  6. Take a bite! But, if you want to eat your tacos, keep them away from the dragons!

For future posts, we will be incorporating, if you will, “real” recipes. But, for tonight, it’s simply about getting comfortable with having family dinner nights with a side of literacy!

Enjoy those tacos and I hope the dragons stay away,



Dragons Love Tacos Song (n.d.). Retrieved March 14, 2015 from http://www.nbp.org/downloads/gep/dragon-song.mp3

Dunkerly, L (2002, January). Word wall games. Retrieved March 12, 2015 from http://www.state.nj.us/education/parents/articles/tips/wordwalls.htm.

Nace, F (n.d.). Word walls at home. Retrieved on March 12, 2015 from http://www.state.nj.us/education/parents/articles/tips/wordwalls.htm.

Getting the most out of picture books (n.d.). Retrieved March 12, 2015 from http://www.rif.org/us/literacy-resources/articles/getting-the-most-out-of-picture-books.htm

Tell Dragon Jokes (n.d.). Retrieved March 14, 2015 from, http://www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/programs/gep/dragon/ge_dragonjokes.html

Tyson, K. (2013, July). 5 Simple Steps for Effective Vocabulary Instruction. Retrieved March 14, 2015 from  http://www.learningunlimitedllc.com/2013/07/5-steps-vocabulary-instruction/

Tyson, K. (2012, December). Top Tips for Word Walls. Retrieved March 14, 2015 from http://www.learningunlimitedllc.com/2012/12/top-tips-for-word-walls/

Word wall ideas for classroom (n.d.) Retrieved on March 12, 2015 from https://www.pinterest.com/search/boards/?q=word+wall+idea+for+classroom.


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