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Strega Nona

Her Story, Strega Nona, by Tomie dePaola, is the story of Nona’s birth and how she becomes the magical witch of Calabria. Introduce some words from the Italian language and make a magical pasta pot.

  • Grade 1
    Grade 2
    Grade 3
  • 30 to 60 minutes
  • Directions

    1. As you begin this lesson, ask students to locate Italy, and then Calabria, on a map. It is located near tip of Italy’s boot. The story recounts the tale of when, where, and how Nona became a strega (witch) of Calabria.
    2. Many of the words in the book are Italian, complete with translations. Read the story out loud and when you come to one of these words stop to see if students can guess the meaning. Write some of the words on a classroom white board using Crayola® Dry Erase Markers.
    3. The story continues with Nona going to the modern Academy of Stregas with her friend Amelia. In time she decides she would rather be with her Grandma Comcetta to learn the skills of a strega. Happily she returns home.
    4. Several times in the story the tale returns to the kitchen where Comcetta’s magical pasta pot continues to mysteriously provide an endless supply of delicious pasta. Towards the end of the book the author reveals the magic “Ingrediente Segreto” of the pasta pot. Ask if anyone can guess what it is.
    5. Make a simple pasta pot with Crayola Construction Paper, string and a Crayola Glue Stick. Cut out a piece of black construction paper in the shape of a circle; cut off the top of the circle in a straight line to form a pot. Glue the pot to a colorful piece of construction paper.
    6. Cut a few pieces of string (about 36”) for each student. Wind and glue the string to the top of the pot to form the pasta.
    7. Use Crayola Classic Crayons or Markers to draw additional objects to complete the artwork. Add a table for the pot to sit on, dishes to serve the pasta in or draw Strega Nona stirring the pot wearing her apron.
    8. Allow glue to dry before displaying.
  • Standards

    LA: Ask and answer questions about key details in a text.

    LA: Identify words and phrases in stories or poems that suggest feelings or appeal to the senses.

    LA: Describe the connection between two individuals, events, ideas, or pieces of information in a text.

    LA: Ask and answer questions about a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.

    SS: Identify and describe ways family groups and community influence the individual.

    SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools such as atlases, data bases, grid systems, charts, graphs, and maps to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.

    VA: Students will initiate making works of art and design by experimenting, imagining and identifying content.

    VA: Students will investigate, plan and work through materials and ideas to make works of art and design.

  • Adaptations

    Make four columns on classroom white board and write the words who, what, when and where at the top of each one. Ask children to describe what happened in the story using each word as a prompt.

    Point to the Italian words previously written on the board and ask if anyone can remember the definitions and equivalent words in English. Ask students if there are any other words in Italian that they would like to learn. Make a list of these words on the classroom white board. Each day select one or two of these words to investigate translating into Italian. Have students practice their Italian vocabulary as opportunities present themselves during the school day.

    At the end of the book a new character arrives at Strega Nona’s front door. Who is he? Where did he come from? What do you think will happen next?


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