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HomeClassroom ResourcesLesson Plans

Lesson Plan

Creative Problem-Solving with Ezra Jack Keats

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Creative Problem-Solving with Ezra Jack Keats

Grades K – 2
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Eight 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Vanessa Udry

Tolono, Illinois

Publisher

National Council of Teachers of English

 

Student Objectives

Session One: A Letter to Amy

Session Two: The Trip

Session Three: Pet Show

Session Four: The Goggles

Session Five: Jennie's Hat

Session Six: Other Ezra Jack Keats Books

Sessions Seven and Eight: Write Your Own

Extensions

Student Assessment/Reflections

 

STUDENT OBJECTIVES

Students will

  • participate in class discussions about predictions and story elements such as characters, problems, and solutions.

  • participate in class discussions comparing and contrasting books.

  • add solutions to the problem and solution bulletin board.

  • read in groups and complete story maps together.

  • compose a story with a problem and solution.

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Session One: A Letter to Amy

  1. Review A Letter to Amy yourself before the session begins. In the story, Peter wants to invite Amy to his party, but she is a girl. His solution is to write her a letter.

  2. Share some background on the overall project by introducing Keats and his writing. Keats is not only a good writer, but also a wonderful artist. His books are beautiful to look at. He also has characters that are in many of his books. Ask students to look for details that demonstrate how creative the characters are in each story.

  3. Picture-walk A Letter to Amy. Look at the cover and each page and have students make predictions about what they think each page is about. Ask questions such as the following:

    • What do you see on the cover?

    • What do you think this story is about?

    • What characters are in the story?

    • What do you think will happen next?
  4. Next, read the story aloud to students, stopping and discussing the book after each page. Ask students questions such as the following:

    • Why is Peter writing a letter?

    • What happens when he mails it?

    • How does Peter feel at his party?

    • What do you think Peter wishes for?
  5. Introduce the concepts of problem and solution. Explain that most stories have a problem that a character faces. The exciting part of many stories is the way that the character explores options and decides what to do to fix the problem. This is called the solution.

  6. Ask students to describe the problem and solution that Peter faces in A Letter to Amy.

  7. Make a Story Map Organizer together on chart paper, listing the title, characters, problem, and solution.

  8. Ask students to brainstorm other options that Peter could have considered and to discuss how they would solve his problem. Encourage students to compare the choice Peter made to other options.

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Session Two: The Trip

  1. Review The Trip yourself before the session begins. In the story, Louie's family has moved and he misses his friends. His solution is to create his old neighborhood in a shoe box and visit his friends with his imagination.

  2. Review the book A Letter to Amy, and discuss the Story Map Organizer the class created for the story.

  3. Picture-walk The Trip. Have students look at the illustrations and compare them to those in A Letter to Amy. Invite students to make predictions about the problem that is explored in the book, based on the pictures.

  4. Read The Trip aloud to students, stopping to discuss the book at appropriate points. Ask questions such as the following:

    • What do you think will happen next?

    • What is Louie's problem?

    • What is his solution?
  5. Make a Story Map Organizer together on chart paper, listing the title, characters, problem, and solution.

  6. Ask students to compare and contrast the problems and solutions in The Trip to those in A Letter to Amy. Ask questions such as the following:

    • How are the problems similar?

    • How are they different?

    • What other solutions might you have tried?
  7. Next, introduce the Problem and Solution Bulletin Board.

  8. Model how to go to the bulletin board and pick a problem to solve. Show students how to get blank paper and write a possible solution.

  9. Encourage students to brainstorm possible solutions to one of the problem, and use this conversation as a springboard to discussing how there is more than one way to solve a problem.

  10. Explain that students may write solutions and add them to the bulletin board in their free time.

  11. Invite students to create and add their own problems to add to students' ownership of the bulletin board.

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Session Three: Pet Show

  1. Review Pet Show yourself before the session begins. In the story, Archie can't find his cat for the Pet Show, so he brings a germ to the Pet Show.

  2. Review the Story Map Organizers created for A Letter to Amy and The Trip. Discuss the problems and solutions in these stories.

  3. Picture-walk Pet Show. Ask students how the illustrations in Pet Show are different from the previous two books.

  4. Invite students to predict the problem that will be explained in this book.

  5. Read the story aloud to students, stopping at appropriate points to discuss the book. Ask questions such as the following:

    • Who are the characters?

    • Do you recognize any of them?

    • What is Archie's problem?

    • What is his solution?
  6. Make a Story Map Organizer together on chart paper, listing the title, characters, problem, and solution.

  7. Invite students to discuss different ways to solve Archie's problem, using questions such as the following to guide discussion:

    • What would you bring if you couldn't find your pet?

    • What other solution might Archie have tried?
  8. Have students draw what they would bring to the Pet Show on construction paper.

  9. While students are working on their pictures, share a few solutions students have written from the bulletin board.

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Session Four: The Goggles

  1. Review The Goggles yourself before the session begins. In the story, Archie and Peter are being picked on by older kids. To solve the problem, Archie and Peter trick the older kids and get away.

  2. Review the Story Map Organizers created for A Letter to Amy, The Trip, and Pet Show. Discuss the problems and solutions in these stories.

  3. Picture-walk The Goggles, using the following questions to invite discussion:

    • Do you like the illustrations? Why or why not?

    • What do you predict the problem might be in this book?
  4. Read story aloud to students, stopping at appropriate points to discuss the book. Ask students the following questions as they explore the book:

    • Who are the characters?

    • Do you recognize any of them?

    • What is Archie and Peter's problem?

    • What is their solution?
  5. Make a Story Map Organizer together on chart paper, listing the title, characters, problem, and solution.

  6. Discuss what students could do if a bully picked on them.

  7. Make a word web of the solutions.

  8. Have students write a paragraph about a time when they were picked on or bullied and to explain how they solved the problem. Invite volunteers to share their stories with the class.

  9. Share a few more solutions students have written from the bulletin board.

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Session Five: Jennie's Hat

  1. Review Jennie's Hat yourself before the session begins. In the story, Jennie's aunt sends her a hat but it is very plain. Jennie's friends help her solve the problem by making the hat unique.

  2. Review the Story Map Organizers created for A Letter to Amy, The Trip, Pet Show, and The Goggles. Discuss the problems and solutions in these stories.

  3. Picture-walk Jennie's Hat. Ask students, using the following questions:

    • What can you tell about the story from the illustrations?

    • What do you think the problem may be in this book?
  4. Read story aloud to students, stopping at appropriate points to discuss the book. Ask students the following questions:

    • Who are the characters?

    • What is Jennie's problem?

    • What is her solution?
  5. Make a Story Map Organizer together on chart paper, listing the title, characters, problem, and solution.

  6. Create a story map for Jennie's Hat using the Story Map interactive as a class. Since students will use this tool on their own in the next session, discuss the way that the tool works as well as the information that you are adding in response to the questions it asks.

  7. Compare the Story Map Organizers the class made for Jennie's Hat to those made for A Letter to Amy, The Trip, Pet Show, and The Goggles. Ask students to describe how the books' characters are alike and different.

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Session Six: Other Ezra Jack Keats Books

  1. Share the other Ezra Jack Keats books with students. Some favorites include Peter's Chair, Whistle for Willie, The Snowy Day, Apt. 3, Dreams, Louie, Louie's Search, and Hi, Cat! These are books that have a problem and solution, but vary in reading levels. Preview and decide which books are best for your class.

  2. Have students pick a book they'd like to read.

  3. Arrange students in groups of three or four based upon their choices.

  4. Have groups of students read their selected books and complete a Story Map Organizer as a group. If you prefer, students can create story maps using the Story Map interactive.

  5. Have students share their finished story maps with the class. Encourage students to make comparisons to the other Keats books that the class has read.

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Sessions Seven and Eight: Write Your Own

  1. Brainstorm a possible problem and solution with the class, or choose one from the bulletin board.

  2. Model how to create a story using this problem and solution. You can use Jack Ezra Keats' characters or make up names for story characters.

  3. Write this information on a story map and explain that this is an outline for a story you could write.

  4. Model how to add details and create a short story.

  5. Invite students to come up with characters and a problem and solution. Then, as a class, write a story map and then a short story.

  6. Pass out the Problem Solution handout, and ask students to create their own story maps by writing the problem and solution. Ask students to draw pictures depicting the problem and solution. Students can also use the ReadWriteThink Story Map interactive.

  7. If students need more support to get started, write examples of problems and solutions on the board for them to choose among.

  8. Have students write their stories on paper and add illustrations.

  9. Add the books to the class library after students have had the chance to share their stories with one another.

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EXTENSIONS

  • Write a letter to the class explaining a problem you have. As a class, write a response explaining a solution that may work. Alternately, students can write their own letters using the ReadWriteThink Letter Generator. You might try this activity after reading A Letter to Amy.

  • In The Trip, Louie makes a whole neighborhood out of paper cut in the shapes of buildings. The class can create a neighborhood mural. Each student can cut a different color of construction paper into a building or shape. Attach the students' paper to a large piece of paper to create a whole neighborhood.

  • Draw a map showing Archie and Peter's escape from the bullies in The Goggles.

  • Act out problems and solutions from the bulletin board.

  • After reading the books, show students the movie The Snowy Day and More Ezra Jack Keats Stories, which includes The Snowy Day, Whistle for Willie, Peter's Chair, and Pet Show.

  • The ReadWriteThink calendar entry for Ezra Jack Keats' Birthday offers additional resources for studying the author.

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STUDENT ASSESSMENT/REFLECTIONS

  • Monitor student participation in classroom discussions. Are students able to make predictions about the story during the picture walks? How well do students understand the problem and solution presented in each story?

  • Monitor student participation on the Problem and Solution Bulletin Board. Does each student make a contribution to the bulletin board? Do students offer reasonable solutions for given problems?

  • Monitor student understanding of problem and solution during completion of story maps in groups. How well do students work in groups to complete a problem/solution story map? Do students offer meaningful contributions to their group work? Do they understand the problems and solutions depicted in their groups’ selected stories? Do students contribute as their groups present their story maps?

  • Monitor student understanding of problem and solution during the writing of own story maps and stories. Are students able to plan and write a story with an appropriate solution to a problem?

 

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