Skip to contentContribute to ReadWriteThink / RSS / FAQs / Site Demonstrations / Contact Us / About Us



Contribute to ReadWriteThink

ReadWriteThink couldn't publish all of this great content without literacy experts to write and review for us. If you've got lessons plans, videos, activities, or other ideas you'd like to contribute, we'd love to hear from you.



Professional Development

Find the latest in professional publications, learn new techniques and strategies, and find out how you can connect with other literacy professionals.



Did You Know?

Your students can save their work with Student Interactives.

More more

HomeClassroom ResourcesLesson Plans

Lesson Plan

When I Was Young In...A Literature to Language Experience

E-mail / Share / Print This Page / Print All Materials (Note: Handouts must be printed separately)

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Seven 40- to 60-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Virginia Stelk

Peaks Island, Maine


International Literacy Association


Materials and Technology

Student Interactives

Mobile Apps






  • When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant (Puffin, 1993)

  • Composition paper

  • Art supplies

  • A jackdaw

back to top



Flip Book

Grades   3 – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Writing & Publishing Prose

Flip Book

The Flip Book is designed to allow users to type and illustrate tabbed flip books up to ten pages long. Students and teachers can use the flip book for taking notes while reading, making picture books, collecting facts, or creating question and answer booklets.


back to top



RWT Flip Book

Grades   3 – 12  |  Mobile App  |  Writing & Publishing Prose

RWT Flip Book

The Flip Book app is designed to allow users to type and illustrate tabbed flip books.


back to top



back to top



back to top



1. Obtain and familiarize yourself with When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant. Practice reading the book aloud with expression. Write questions on sticky notes and place them in appropriate places so that you know when to pause and ask students for their contributions. Questions for discussion include:

  • Why would Grandfather be covered with black dust?

  • Why do you suppose the Crawfords smelled of sweet milk?

  • Who can act out shivering and giggling for us?

  • What do you remember most about meals when you were young?

  • Did older members of your extended family live with you when you were young?

  • In the story, the snake was scary to the girl. Do you remember things that scared you?
2. You will also want to make a list of past-tense verbs from the book to use as a reference during Session 2.

3. Prepare a jackdaw, which is one way to introduce a unit or book because it encourages discussion, helps students access prior knowledge, and gets them to use predicting skills. Use a box (such as a shoebox) containing items related to the story you wish to share with the class. Items for this book might include photos of a general store or a johnny-house, a recipe for cornbread, a toy snake, a lump of coal, or a cocoa can. You might also include objects from your past that are important to you (e.g., a piece of cloth from an article of clothing, a book, or a knickknack).

4. Visit the websites related to Cynthia Rylant that are listed in the Resources section so that you are prepared to discuss her background with students (see Session 1, Step 2). Questions and points for discussion include:

  • How can you tell Cynthia Rylant loves animals?

  • Why are most of her books set in Appalachia?

  • What do we mean by the term " Appalachia"? (Be prepared to show students the area of West Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland where the Appalachian Mountains are on the map).

  • Many of Cynthia Rylant's books have won awards. What do you think are characteristics of an award-winning book? (Be prepared to list students' suggestions on the board and include descriptive sentences, interesting vocabulary, and colorful illustrations).
5. Your students will be using computers to write a story and make a book in the same format as the Rylant book. Visit the Flip Book tool and familiarize yourself with its use so you are prepared to help students use it as well. Review the Sample "When I Was Young" Text and use it to help you prepare a flip book of your own to share with the class showing your expectations for them. You might mention some of the objects you included in your jackdaw in the story.

6. If you do not have classroom computers with Internet access, reserve one 40- to 60-minute session in your school's computer lab. Bookmark the Flip Book tool on your classroom or lab computers.

7. Familiarize yourself with the Think-Pair-Share, strategy. This strategy works as follows:

  • Think: Allow students time to individually form a thoughtful response to a question and write it down.

  • Pair: Put two students together to share their thoughts.

  • Share: Lead a whole-class discussion of responses.
8. Make one copy of the Using Past-Tense Verbs Assessment, the Writing Rubric for When I Was Young In... Flip Books, the Speaking Rubric for When I Was Young In..., and the When I Was Young... Rough Draft Template for each student in your class.

back to top