Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book by Yuyi Morales

Updated: Jan 30

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Picture Book Lesson Plan


Just a Minute_ A Trickster Tale and Coun
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This lesson is a guided reading experience designed to accompany Yuyi Morales’s picture book, Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book. Lesson content was written by Maggie Chavez as part of her work in the Social Justice in K-12 Education course at Portland State University and was designed to start or deepen anti-bias conversations in families and other learning communities.


Just a Minute: Trickster Tale and Counting Book (read by the author Yuyi Morales)


This picture book follows the tale of how Grandma Beetle tricks Señor Calavera into staying for her birthday party. When Señor Calavera shows up to Grandma Beetle’s house, he asks her to leave with him. Grandma agrees but first she has to clean one (uno) house, boil two (dos) pots of tea, make tortillas out of three (tres) pounds of corn and so on until they reach ten (diez). The book counts in Spanish and English from one to ten, and with each passing number we learn about Mexican culture of food and traditions.

I grew up with similar birthday traditions as seen in this book because I am a Mexican-American who enjoyed piñatas just as much as Grandma Beetle’s grandchildren! Also, as an adult reading this book and being bilingual, I understand that “calavera” means “skull” in English, so I interpreted Señor Calavera to be a symbol for death. Grandma Beetle was able to trick death by staying positive, remaining active, and surrounding herself with her family. This is a nuance that children K-2 might not understand. This book is written so that we can have different levels of age appropriate conversations regarding counting, differences in cultures, or death and mortality. I encourage children and parents to dive into this book with an open mind and learn about Mexican culture one number at a time.


This guided reading lesson is designed to be part of a larger life-long commitment to anti-racist teaching and learning for the student and the facilitator. Reading Is Resistance sees reading as an opportunity to seed deeper conversations and opportunities for action around racial equity in our communities. We hold the belief that being anti-racist is a process of learning (and unlearning) over time.

The Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards (focused on Identity, Diversity, Justice, and Action) serve as guides for our work.


The Teaching Tolerance Standards and Domains referenced in this lesson are for Grades K-2. This book, however, can be used with a wide range of ages. Domains featured in this lesson are as follows:


Domain #1

I know and like who I am and can talk about my family and myself and name some of my group identities.


Domain #5

I see that the way my family and I do things is both the same as and different from how other people do things, and I am interested in both.


Domain #8

I want to know about other people and how our lives and experiences are the same and different.


Domain #10 I find it interesting that groups of people believe different things and live their daily lives in different ways.


  • What Latinx customs did you see while reading?

  • What are some traditions you and your family have for birthdays?

  • Does your family cook any meals traditional to your culture or ethnicity?

  • How high can you count in English? How high can you count in Spanish? Can you count in any other languages?

The discussion questions accompanying this story are designed around the following four interrelated domains: Identity Domain #1, Identity Domain #5, Diversity Domain #8, and Diversity Domain #10.


Comparing cultural holidays (article)

Printable mask from Yuyi Morales (art activity)

Favorite moments from the book (writing activity)


Counting with Friday/Contando con Frida By Patty Rodriguez

Just in Case: A Trickster Tale and Spanish Alphabet Book By Yuyi Morales

One Is a Piñata by Rosanne Greenfield Thong