SHORT THEMATIC UNIT BASED ON MULTICULTURAL CHILDREN’S LITERATURE
April 27, 1999
Short Thematic Unit Based On Multicultural Children’s Literature
THEME: Powerful, positive female characters in literature
TARGETED GRADE: Third grade multicultural class
UNIT OVERVIEW: The unit will be based on 5 multicultural selections of varied genres (Picture books, a folk tale, a poem, and nonfiction.) The lessons are designed to be implemented after each selection is read. The content areas that are included are: Language Arts (drama and poetry), Math, Art, and Social Studies. The lessons will be taught with "Whole Group Instruction" and Guided Practice, with specific instructions for each selection. Most lessons will be completed in about an hour. I chose this theme because it is important that females be portrayed in a strong, positive manner in literature.
OVERALL GOAL: The goal is to make students aware that females of any culture can do anything males can. Females can be influential leaders in their families, classrooms, cultures, and countries.
CHILDREN’S LITERATURE RESOURCES
Coles, Robert. 1995. The Story of Ruby Bridges. New York.
De Paola, Tomie. (Retold) 1983. The Legend of the Bluebonnet:
An Old Tale of Texas. New York. Putnam Publishing Group.
Greenfield, Eloise. 1978. Harriet Tubman. Reprinted from
Honey, I Love. Harpercollins Publishers. Selected by Wade
Hudson. 1993. Pass It On: African-American Poetry For
Children. New York. Scholastic Inc.
Hoffman, Mary. 1991. Amazing Grace. New York. Scholastic
Williams, Vera B. 1982. A Chair For My Mother. New York.
LESSON 1--SOCIAL STUDIES
OBJECTIVE: To recognize females that have important roles in history.
MATERIALS: The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles, Resource books on various historical female heroines—Some possibilities are: Amelia Earhart, Florence Nightengale, Rosa Parks, Joan of Arc, Eleanor Roosevelt, Sacagawea, Harriet Tubman, Pocahontas, Sandra Day O’Connor, and Susan B. Anthony.
ANTICIPATORY SET: Before reading The Story of Ruby Bridges, ask students if they have ever been a new student at school. How did they feel that first day? If not, imagine they were. Record responses on chart paper or the chalkboard. Explain that they are about to hear a true story about a brave young girl. Then read the story aloud.
PROCEDURE: Divide the class into groups of 2-3. Assign or have groups pick a name of
an important female from history. Using resource books, the students will write a short report about the woman they chose. Each report should include the following:
birth date and place
date of death (if applicable)
Students will informally share their reports with the class in their groups.
CLOSURE: Create a chart with the names of the women from the reports. Include 1-2 important aspects about each woman next to her name.
EVALUATION: Every student will participate in the writing and presenting of his/her report.
LESSON 2--ART/LANGUAGE ARTS
OBJECTIVE: To create a new flower and legend
MATERIALS: The Legend of the Bluebonnet retold by Tomie De Paola, 9x11 white construction paper, colored scraps of construction paper
ANTICIPATORY SET: Read the story aloud. Lead a discussion explaining what it means
to sacrifice something and why the She Who Was Alone was brave to do so in the story.
As a group, brainstorm possible sacrifices the students could make.
PROCEDURE: The students will imagine that they are the character He/She Who Is
Alone from the story. They must sacrifice their most valuable possession to save their people by throwing it into the fire. Next, the students must determine what color the
ashes would be from their sacrifice and create a NEW flower using colored scraps of
paper. (Roses, daisies, tulips etc. should not be used.) The students should glue the flower on white construction paper and write at the top: The Legend of the ________" Under the flower, the students will write a short paragraph about how their flower came
CLOSURE: Collate the legends together to make a class book. Read it aloud to the class and then add it to your classroom library.
EVALUATION: The students will creatively invent a new flower and legend different
from the story and from anyone else’s in class.
LESSON 3--LANGUAGE ARTS/POETRY
OBJECTIVE: To encourage self-reflection and discover similarities and differences
between oneself and others in class.
MATERIALS: Pass It On: African-American Poetry For Children, *Poem entitled: "Harriet Tubman" by Eloise Greenfield, writing paper, and chart paper.
ANTICIPATORY SET: Read the poem "Harriet Tubman" aloud. Discuss and list characteristics of Harriet Tubman evident from the poem and list on chart paper.
Example: Strong, brave, fearless, sad, and free.
PROCEDURE: Explain to the students that they are to write a poem entitled "I Am." Instruct them that the only rule for the poem is that each line must begin with the words "I am." State that they may include any characteristics that are true for them. They may wish to include personality traits, ethnicity, religion, hobbies, memories, etc. The students should be aware that they will be sharing their poems. When finished, break students into small groups to share their poems. Rotate groups to allow for greater sharing. Call students back to their seats.
CLOSURE: Ask the students:
How did it feel to share your poem? Why is this activity important? What did you learn?
Did you make any connections with other students from this activity?
EVALUATION: Students will write down one trait from their poem that someone else also had. They will also write down one trait that was unique to them.
LESSON 4—LANGUAGE ARTS/DRAMA
OBJECTIVE: The students will be able to retell a story using dramatic puppet theater.
MATERIALS: Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman, chart paper, construction paper, craft sticks, and a puppet theater (or rectangular table turned on its side.)
ANTICIPATORY SET: Read Amazing Grace aloud. Begin a discussion about Grace and how she felt in school at the beginning of the story. Draw from the discussion a conclusion that Grace was able to do anything she wanted…it did not matter that she was a girl or black.
PROCEDURE: With the help of the class, briefly write the sequence of events from
Amazing Grace on chart paper. Display it in a prominent area where all students can refer to it. Divide the class into groups of 3-4. Groups should make puppets using craft sticks and construction paper of Grace, Nana, and Ma. Next, students will practice acting out the story’s events with the puppets, using the events on the chart paper.
CLOSURE: Each group will have a turn to perform Amazing Grace with the puppets.
EVALUATION: Each student will actively participate in the performance and act as a good audience member.
OBJECTIVE: To add money continually to reach a specific goal amount.
MATERIALS: A Chair For My Mother by Vera B. Williams, paper, dice with coin pictures
on the sides (penny, nickel, dime, quarter, half-dollar, silver dollar), counting manipulatives, calculators
ANTICIPATORY SET: Read A Chair For My Mother aloud. Discuss why the characters in the story were saving their change.
PROCEDURE: Ask the students to think of something inexpensive that they would like to buy for their mother or grandmother. Next, they will draw a picture of the item on paper and determine how much they think it might cost. Then the students will write the price below the item. Students will roll a die and record the amount on a separate piece of paper. Repeat and add until the students have enough to buy the present.
CLOSURE: Discuss the procedure as a class. Ask: was it an easy or difficult task? Was
it easy to keep track of the money you saved?
EVALUATION: Students will switch papers with a neighbor. Using a calculator, check the math. Return the paper to its owner.
At the end of the unit, have a "Celebration of Women" party. Encourage students to bring in a book containing a positive female character to share.
Or perhaps they may choose to share a poem about a strong female.
Students can work in pairs (1 boy and 1 girl). One partner can dress up as a famous women in history and the other partner can share something about her life. Students may choose to report on females in nontraditional professions (Race car driver, astronaut, etc.) Students may also invite their female family members in to share something special about themselves.
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