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Lesson Plan

The Houdini Box: What Did Houdini Hide? Writing Creative Endings

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The Houdini Box: What Did Houdini Hide? Writing Creative Endings

Grades 3 – 6
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Five 60-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Jennifer Gould

Ames, Iowa


International Literacy Association


Materials and Technology

Student Interactives






  • The Houdini Box by Brian Selznick

  • Escape! The Story of the Great Houdini by Sid Fleischman

  • Who Was Harry Houdini? by Tui T. Sutherland

  • Harry Houdini for Kids: His Life and Adventures With 21 Magic Tricks and Illusions (For Kids series) by Laurie Winn Carlson

  • Harry Houdini: Young Magician by Kathryn Kilby Borland and Helen Ross Speicher

  • Chart paper and scratch paper

  • Markers and pencils

  • Glue

  • Scissors

  • Fishing line or string

  • Hole punch

  • Paper clips

  • Computers with Internet access

  • Three-ring plastic covers and a three-ring binder

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Essay Map

Grades   3 – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Organizing & Summarizing

Essay Map

The Essay Map is an interactive graphic organizer that enables students to organize and outline their ideas for an informational, definitional, or descriptive essay.


Cube Creator

Grades   3 – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Organizing & Summarizing

Cube Creator

The interactive Cube Creator helps students identify and summarize key elements. It can be used as a prewriting or postreading activity.


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  1. Write the Houdini Box chant lyrics on the board (see Session 1 under Instructional Plan tab).

  2. Read The Houdini Box by Brian Selznick before reading it aloud to students. This will ensure that all words are known and that you know about how long it takes to read straight through the book. (Keep in mind that this is without the questions and discussion that tend to happen when the book is actually read to students.)

  3. Print off enough copies of the Comprehension Cube for each student. Punch holes in the worksheets so that a string can be tied to a corner of the constructed box, and it can be hung from the ceiling. If allowing students to use the Cube Creator to complete their Comprehension Cube, reserve computer time, as necessary, and create a draft of the Cube and save to each computer students will use.

  4. Prepare an example of the Comprehension Cube that is completed, cut out, and glued together.

  5. Cut and prepare fishing line or strings that are the same length for each student (about 24”).

  6. Set out all other books on the Materials list that students need for their research: Escape! The Story of the Great Houdini; Who Was Harry Houdini?; Harry Houdini for Kids: His Life and Adventures With 21 Magic Tricks and Illusions; and Harry Houdini: Young Magician.

  7. Bookmark the two websites that students will use for research: America’s Story From America’s Library: Harry Houdini and The American Experience: Houdini.

  8. Do some of your own research on Houdini using the books and websites available. Explore the websites in particular so that you are able to help students navigate through them when it comes time for them to use the websites during research.

  9. Bookmark the Essay Map interactive website.

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