Baltimore Curriculum Project Draft Lessons

Introductory Notes

These lessons generally follow the grade-by-grade topics in the Core Knowledge Sequence, but they have been developed independent of the Core Knowledge Foundation. While the Core Knowledge Foundation encourages the development and sharing of lessons based on the Core Knowledge Sequence, it does not endorse any one set of lesson plans as the best or only way that the knowledge in the Sequence should be taught.

You may feel free to download and distribute these lessons, but please note that they are currently in DRAFT form. At this time the draft lessons on this web site do NOT have accompanying graphics, such as maps or cut-out patterns. Graphics will be added to this site later.

In participating BCP schools, these lessons are used in conjunction with the Direct Instruction skills programs in reading, language, and math. If you use or adapt these lessons, keep in mind that they are meant to address content and the application of skills. You will need to use other materials to ensure that children master skills in reading, language, and math.

First Grade - Literature - October - Overview

The literature selection this month contains two sayings, three poems, and five stories. It is not essential that the stories be completed in any particular order but it is important that the elements of fairy tales (see fairy tale pages at the beginning of the story section) be discussed with the students at the beginning of the unit. This study should be carried throughout as well as the study of characters, heroes and heroines.

As you read the stories included in this unit select activities that you would like to do with your students from the fairy tale section. Some stories include recommendations, but feel free to substitute the activities that you wish to use.

The stories of Issun Boshi, Tom Thumb, and Thumbelina should be taught close to each other because they share the theme of a diminutive hero/heroine. All the stories focus on the child in the story with various amounts of parental involvement. Be sure that the students recognize this, as well as, the love and support expressed by most of the parents.

Take time to read the background information that is included; hopefully it will be useful in presenting the lessons.


First Grade - Literature - Sayings and Phrases - October

"Fish out of water"

There will be many times that "Fish out of water" can be related to the literature selections for this month. The title characters of Jack and the Beanstalk, Issun Boshi, Thumbelina and "Little Finger of the Watermelon Patch" certainly found many occasions when they were out of place, uncomfortable, and awkward.

Before you introduce this saying ask the children to tell what a fish needs in order to live. When you have established that fish need water, ask the children how they think a fish would feel without water. Be sure they know that a fish would feel confused and uncomfortable because it would be unable to move or to breathe.

Display the saying "Fish out of water" and tell the students that when someone says they feel like a fish out of water, they are saying that they feel the same way that a fish out of water would feel--uncomfortable, awkward or confused. Tell, or ask the children to tell, some occasions when someone might feel this way; for example, arriving at a party and everyone there was wearing a costume except you; trying something for the first time--riding a bike, roller skating, etc.

Tell the children that there will probably be many times in their lives when they will feel this way. It is a very normal way to feel, and we are much luckier than fish because we can still breathe when we are in these situations.

"Land of Nod"

This saying should be coordinated with the poem Wynken, Blynken, and Nod. Once the children are familiar with the poem it will be easy for them to draw the parallels to the "Land of Nod" as the place you go when you go to sleep.

You may wish to have the children tell about pleasant dreams that they have had, then have them illustrate the dreams and display them on a bulletin board entitled "Land of Nod".


First Grade - Literature - Lesson 4 - Poetry

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod


Listen to a poem for enjoyment.

Describe pleasant dreams.

Illustrate or write about a favorite dream (optional).


This poem and this month's saying "Land of Nod" are interrelated. The art activity of drawing a favorite dream could be done with either. You could have the children tell who they like to have read them a bedtime story or tuck them into bed, or identify a favorite lullaby. If you wish, have the students write about a favorite dream.


Tell the children that "Wynken, Blynken, and Nod" is a lullaby. It is half story and half song. Ask them if they know any other lullabies. If they are not familiar with others, you may wish to read, sing or play some other lullabies (see list). Be sure they know that a lullaby is sung when putting someone, usually a baby, to sleep. It is sung, and therefore read, with a soft, melodic voice.

Read the poem. Ask the students if they can tell where the names Wynken, Blynken, and Nod came from. Can they see the words winking, blinking, and nod as they pertain to being sleepy, or falling asleep?

Relate this poem to the saying "Land of Nod." You might ask the children what sends them to the "Land of Nod." Do they get sleepy listening to certain kinds of music, or when they come into a warm house after playing outside on a snowy day? Do they ever feel themselves nodding when they have been listening to someone talk for a very long time, or when riding in the car for a long trip?

Consider an activity mentioned in the Background above.


Wynken, Blynken, and Nod

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night

Sailed off in a wooden shoe, -

Sailed on a river of crystal light

Into a sea of dew.

"Where are you going, and what do you wish?"

The old man asked the three.

"We have come to fish for the herring-fish

That live in this beautiful sea;

Nets of silver and gold have we,"

Said Wynken,


And Nod.


First Grade - Literature - Lesson 4 - Poetry

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod

The old moon laughed and sang a song,

As they rocked in the wooden shoe;

And the wind that sped them all night long

Ruffled the waves of dew:

The little stars were the herring-fish

That lived in the beautiful sea.

"Now cast your nets wherever you wish,-

Never afraid are we!"

So cried the stars to the fisherman three,



And Nod.

All night long their nets they threw

To the stars in the twinkling foam,-

Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,

Bringing the fishermen home:

'Twas all so pretty a sail it seemed

As if it could not be;

And some folk thought 'twas a dream they'd dreamed

Of sailing that beautiful sea;

But I shall name you the fishermen three:



And Nod.

Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,

And Nod is a little head,

And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies

Is the wee one's trundle-bed;

So shut your eyes while Mother sings

Of wonderful sights that be,

And you shall see the beautiful things

As you rock in the misty sea

Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:-



And Nod.

Eugene Field


"German Slumber Song" - Karl Simrock


First Grade - Literature - Lesson 4 - Poetry

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod

Shake it to the One that You Love the Best (collection) - Cheryl Warren Mattox

"Fais Do Do, Colas" - Creole

"All the Pretty Little Horses" - African-American

"Kumbaya" - Congo

"Sleep, Baby, Sleep" - Creole

"Give My Heart Ease" - African-American

"Who's That" - African-American

"I Will Feed My Baby" - Yoruba

"Short'ning Bread" - African-American

"Gone To The Mailboat" - African-American

"Ya, Ya, Ya" - Congo


First Grade - Literature - Lesson 5 - Poetry

Table Manners


Identify poor table manners in the poem and recommend the correct ones.

Retell the poem using good table manners.


Poem copied on chart paper


Ask the children to tell some of the good table manners we use. Direct them to tell the proper way to use utensils and a napkin. Ask them the rules about talking and eating at the same time, and completing one plate of food before asking for more or for dessert. List the children's ideas about good manners on the board.

Tell the students that the poem you are going to read is about some people who have terrible table manners. You may need to define some of the words in the poem later, but for the first reading the children should be able to get the general mood without dissecting the poem. Say: Their manners are so terrible that the people in the poem are called Goops.

Tell the students to listen for bad table manners as the poem is read. Ask them why they think the author, Gelett Burgess, wrote this poem. Ask: Do you think that he knows people who are so rude or did he just exaggerate?

After reading the poem ask the children to identify what the Goops did incorrectly and match those items with the correct manners you have on the board. As a class you may enjoy rewriting the poem to reflect good table manners (see sample below).

Table Manners

The Goops they lick their fingers,

And the Goops they lick their knives;

They spill their broth on the tablecloth-

Oh, they lead disgusting lives!

The Goops they talk while eating,

And loud and fast they chew;

And that is why I'm glad that I

Am not a Goop - are you?

The Goops are gluttonous and rude,

They gug and gumble with their food;

They throw their crumbs upon the floor,

And at dessert they tease for more;

They will not eat their soup and bread

But like to gobble sweets, instead,

And this is why I oft decline,

When I am asked to stay and dine!


First Grade - Literature - Lesson 5 - Poetry

Table Manners

Good Table Manners (with apologies to Gelett Burgess)


The Goods they use their napkins,

And the Goods use forks and knives;

They never spill food on the tablecloth-

Oh, they lead such charming lives!

The Goods don't talk while eating,

And quiet and slow they chew,

And that is why I wish that I

Could be a Good - don't you?

The Goods are reasonable, never rude,

They nibble and chew all their food;

They keep their crumbs from off the floor,

Always polite when they ask for more;

They happily eat their soup and bread

And never gobble sweets instead,

This is why I think it's fine,

When I am asked to stay and dine!

You may also wish to share the poem "Felicia Ropps" by Gelett Burgess. It references "Goops" also.


First Grade - Literature - Lesson 6 - Poetry

Solomon Grundy


Sequence the life of Solomon Grundy.

Write a poem using the days of the week.


Have the children recite the days of the week. List them on the board. Ask: Do any of you know on which day of the week you were born? (You may want to make a chart or graph for the class.) Tell the children that we can think of this birth day as the beginning of our lives. Tell them that the poem Solomon Grundy is about the life of a fictitious man who began his life on a Monday. Read the poem.

Ask: Do you think Solomon Grundy lived for only seven days? How do we know that the days of the week happened during different years? (he was christened then he married the next day) Be sure the children know that the word christened means baptized. Discuss what happened to Solomon and list each, next to the appropriate day of the week, on the board.

Say: We are going to write a poem about an imaginary person. In our poem we will just tell about a part of the person's life. We will just tell about things this person does.

Have the children name some activities that they enjoy doing (riding a bike, swimming, playing basketball, going shopping, eating ice cream, etc.). List these on the board. Tell the children that these activities will be incorporated in the class poem.

Choose a name for the person in your poem or ask the students to suggest names. Remind the students that the last name should rhyme with Monday (see samples). Fill in the suggested activities for the other days in the week. You can end the poem by saying This is the year of _______, or This is the life of _______, or This is the week of ________, etc.


Solomon Grundy

Solomon Grundy,

Born on a Monday,

Christened on Tuesday,

Married on Wednesday,

Took ill on Thursday,

Worse on Friday,

Died on Saturday,

Buried on Sunday.

This is the end

Of Solomon Grundy.

Oliver Dundy

Oliver Dundy,

Played ball on Monday,

Went swimming on Tuesday,


First Grade - Literature - Lesson 6 - Poetry

Solomon Grundy

Had ice cream on Wednesday,

Went shopping on Thursday,

Rode his bike on Friday,

Played Nintendo on Saturday,

Roller skated on Sunday.

This is the week

Of Oliver Dundy.

Other possible names to use in the rhyme are:

Harold McMundy

Lucy VonTundy

Gertrude Saint-Bundy


First Grade - Fairy Tales

Elements of Fairy Tales

The stories introduced in this unit are all fairy tales. Students will already be familiar with the term, fairy tale, but this unit provides time to discuss the elements shared by most fairy tales (see below).

The elements found in most fairy tales are:

1. The story opens with the words "Once upon a time ..."

2. Magic events or characters are part of the story.

3. One of the characters is someone of royalty.

4. One of the characters is evil or wicked.

5. The number three or the number seven is used in the story.

6. A lesson is learned or a message is delivered.

7. Animals may be characters.

8. The story ends with the words "...and they lived happily ever after."

Fairy tale Chart

A simple chart can be made that addresses the elements and provides columns to

include each of the stories. The chart may be limited to only a few of the elements or it may contain all of them. There are several commercially made products designed for this purpose. The chart can be updated each time a fairy tale is read (see chart). The information documented on the chart can later be used for a graphing activity (see graphing).


Jack Thumbelina Issun Boshi
once upon a time ...
numbers 3 or 7
animals as characters
... and they lived happily ever after

Graphing Activity

There are several graphing activities that can be done using the information on the fairy tale chart. It is possible to list the elements and do a picture graph with a symbol used for each fairy tale that contains that element. A bar graph may also be used in this manner.


First Grade - Fairy Tales

A bar graph may also be used to indicate the number of elements a particular story may include.

Character Traits

You may wish to discuss the word character with your students, refining it to include hero, heroine, and villain. Be sure that the students know that characters in a story may be ordinary people or they might even be animals.

As the students identify character traits it is important to have them support the identified trait with the actions of the character that demonstrate this trait. Students should be able to fill in a sentence like: ____________ showed that he/she was______________ when_______________________ (Jack showed that he was curious when he climbed up the beanstalk).

Character Traits

The following list is intended to provide some guidelines. It is neither inclusive nor exclusive. A worthwhile activity would be brainstorming traits with the students based on characters and people they know.

kind generous wise thoughtful

brave resourceful considerate adventurous

patient sympathetic silly loyal

responsible courageous risk-taker problem solver

curious lazy evil selfish

disrespectful foolish loving shy

serious smart dependable polite

Newspaper report

Go over the questions a reporter asks when writing a news article--who, what, when, where, why or how. Use these questions to report on a fairy tale or a part of one (Jack stealing the hen that laid the golden eggs, for instance). The outline of a hand may be used with the thumb and fingers used for the placement of the question words and answers, and the palm used for the title of the tale (see handprint worksheet).

Write a Letter

Ask the students to help write a group letter pretending to be either Issun Boshi or Thumbelina. The letter should be written to a friend telling the most exciting thing (or things) that have happened since the character left home.

You may wish to duplicate copies of the group letter for the class or have the students make individual copies from your master. In either event, the students can illustrate the letter.


First Grade - Fairy Tales

Real things - Fantastic behavior

Make a list of real items from a fairy tale (or fairy tales) in a column and next to each list the fantastic things each one can do. Have the children suggest the items (beans, hen, harp,

beanstalk). Students will no doubt think of others like the flying carpet in Aladdin; the mice, pumpkin, etc. in Cinderella; and the candlestick, teapot, and clock in Beauty and the Beast.

No bigger than my thumb

Work as a class to compile a list of everyday objects that could be used by a boy or girl the size of the heroes and heroine of these tales. Have the students tell how each could be used. For example: a thimble could be used as a bucket; a needle, toothpick, or straight pin could be a sword; etc.

It's not easy being BIG/small

Ask the students to decide whether they think it would be more difficult (or enjoyable) being very large or very small. Have them brainstorm the problems (or pleasures) of each. Finally, have the students select a particular situation and illustrate it.

I want a child more than anything in the world

In each of the stories in this unit, except Jack and the Beanstalk, a child was desired more than anything in the world. Ask the students to tell what special qualities they would want a child of their own to have. Would they want a beautiful child like Thumbelina; a clever child like Tom; a brave child like Issun Boshi and Jack? If they could design the perfect child what would he or she be like?


First Grade - Literature - Jack and the Beanstalk


Identify characteristics of a fairy tale.

Discuss Jack's traits.


Story of Jack and the Beanstalk

Pictures of a beanstalk

Beans, a toy cow or picture of one

What Your First Grader Needs to Know - E.D. Hirsch, Jr.

Suggested Books

Cauley, Lorinda Bryan. Jack and the Beanstalk. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1983.

Ehrlich, Amy. The Random House Book of Fairy Tales. New York: Random House, 1985.

Howe, John. Jack and the Beanstalk. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1989.

Kellogg, Steven. Jack and the Beanstalk. New York: Morrow Junior Books, 1991.



Show the children five beans and the toy cow. Ask: Who can tell the name of the story that goes with these? If no one can tell, continue to give clues such as Jack, the giant, a beanstalk, etc. Check to see how well they can remember the setting, the main characters, and the problem in the story.

Be sure that the children are familiar with the way that beans grow on a stalk and the amount of time necessary for germination. Say: The beanstalk is just one of the many make-believe/magical parts of this story. Listen for other make-believe/magical parts when I read the story. (Be sure to help the students identify the harp that sings, the hen that lays the golden eggs, etc. when you encounter them in the story.)

Read the story. After you have read the story ask: Could this story have really happened? Why? Have the students name the main characters (Mother, Jack, giant/ogre, giant/ogre's wife). Ask them to name the problems in the story (had to sell the cow to buy food, a beanstalk grew where the beans had been thrown, Jack had to escape from the giant).

Ask: How does the story begin? (once upon a time). Ask the children if they remember the magic number that you find in many fairy tales (3). Have them list the threes that happen in this story (Jack climbs the beanstalk three times; he brings three gifts: gold, the hen, the harp).

Ask: Was it right for Jack to steal from the giant? Why? Did the giant ever do anything to hurt Jack? Why did Jack think that the giant would hurt him? (Fee, fi, fo, fum ...; the giant ate boys broiled on toast)

Ask the children to tell about Jack and his behavior. When does he show that he is brave? When does he act careless? Encourage the children to identify and discuss Jack's traits.

Check the ending of the story. Does it end "happily ever after"? Ask the children how they feel about the giant's death. How do they think his wife feels? Is she sorry that she helped Jack to hide from her husband?

Review the elements of a fairy tale and see how Jack and the Beanstalk compares.


First Grade - Literature - Pinocchio


Identify the elements of a fairy tale.

Sequence events in Pinocchio's life.

Identify the signal that Pinocchio was telling a lie.

Illustrate a four cell comic strip of one part of the story. (optional)

Make a marionette. (optional)


Copy of Pinocchio

A marionette or jointed doll (if marionette is unavailable)

See optional activities

Suggested Books

Collodi, C. The Adventures of Pinocchio - Tale of a Puppet. New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books, 1983. (see note)

Disney, Walt. Pinocchio and His Puppet Show Adventure. New York: Random House, 1973.

Kassirer, Sue (adapted by). The Adventures of Pinocchio. New York: Random House, 1992.

Spinner, Stephanie (adapted by). The Adventures of Pinocchio. New York: Random House, 1983.

What Your First Grader Needs to Know - pp. 42-43

Background for the Teacher

Carlo Lorenzini (1826-1890) used the name of his mother's native Tuscan village, Collodi, as his pen name. He was a journalist and children's author who founded two satirical newspapers. In 1881 he began a serial called The Tale of a Puppet for a children's illustrated weekly. Two years later it was published as a book with the present title.

The original story is quite lengthy (36 chapters) and much more complicated than the newest editions (Disney, etc.). Because Collodi's descriptions are rather harsh you may wish to read only brief selections if you choose to read from the original. Be certain to read over the chapter before presenting it to the students. If you are using an adaptation be sure that it contains an episode where Pinocchio's nose grows in response to a lie.

Some of the students may have seen the animated Disney version of the story or the recent film release. Tell the students that when a film is made it does not necessarily stay true to the original story. There may be a character they know from a film that does not exist in the book, or the adventures portrayed are quite different.



Tell the students that the story that you are about to read is a truly magical one. It is about a man named Geppetto who carves a puppet out of a piece of wood. The wood is very special, however, and the puppet acts as though it is alive. (Some versions credit the Blue Fairy for this ability. Check your version.) Ask them if they can imagine a piece of wood talking, walking, eating and sleeping.

Explain that the names in the story are quite different because they come from Italy.


First Grade - Literature - Pinocchio

Show the location of Italy on the map and explain that it is a country on the continent of Europe.

Explain that this story was written a long time ago when people made their furniture by hand and carpenters had shops in every town. Geppetto knew how to carve as most men did and it was typical for them to make toys this way.

Present the marionette or jointed doll to the class. Demonstrate that it is possible to move the marionette by moving the strings. Explain that puppet shows were very popular a long time

ago and people told stories with puppets. The stories were not just for children but adults, too.

Some of the students may have seen a marionette show or a Punch and Judy type puppet show.

Read a selection from a book or the adaptation included in What Your First Grader Needs to Know pp. 42-43. Even this very brief selection allows the students to identify some elements of a fairy tale.

Talk to the children about the characters in the version of the story you are reading. Discuss the term hero if you have not already done so. (The main character in the story who is the most kind, most brave or most anything good.) Ask: Is Pinocchio the hero in this story? Was Pinocchio a very good character or did many things have to happen to him before he finally became good? Are there other people or animals who are main characters in this story? Discuss with the children.

Ask: What happens when Pinocchio tells a lie? (His nose grows.) Tell the children if they ever hear someone say, "Your nose is growing," that means that the person is teasing you and accusing you of telling a lie. Remind them that one lie can lead to another and grow just like Pinocchio's nose. You may want to discuss briefly whether this would be good or bad if it really happened.

Have the children recall and sequence the events in the story according to the version you choose to read. Use time order words whenever possible, like first, next, later, weeks later, years later, finally, etc. Make the students aware of beginning, middle, and end of story by grouping the events in the appropriate sections.

The two following activities are optional. You may use any of the activities from the fairy tale pages if you wish.

Comic Strip


Comic strips

Four cell comic strip blackline

If you choose to have the students illustrate a comic strip take the time to explain that a comic strip tells a story. Tell the children that in the daily newspaper comics are presented in black and white and only in the Sunday paper is color added. This is because the pictures are drawn quickly and it is less expensive not to use color. A comic can show a conversation that takes place over a few minutes or actions that take place over a much longer period of time. Select a part of the story and illustrate four scenes on the chalkboard or on chart paper. The opening of the story can easily be used with Geppetto first finding the piece of wood; next, carving the wood; next, painting the puppet; and finally, Pinocchio speaking. Use stick figures or BCP DRAFT LIT 28

First Grade - Literature - Pinocchio

figures that do not require a lot of detail. Have the students select a part of the story and have them do the same on the blackline provided.



Marionette pattern

Glue, crayons, paper, fabric and yarn scraps

Paper fasteners, scissors

Cardboard or oak tag

Cardboard tubes or popsicle sticks, string (optional)

You may wish to have all students make marionettes like Pinocchio or you may wish to have them make different characters like Pinocchio, Geppetto, the Blue Fairy, the Puppet Master, the Cat and the Fox in order to make a puppet show of the story.

1. Have the children trace the patterns onto oak tag and cut them out.

2. Then they should color and decorate as they wish.

3. Next, they should use paper fasteners to attach the arms and legs. If desired, strings

may be attached to the hands and feet (use a paper punch to cut holes) and the strings may then be attached to cardboard tubes or popsicle sticks.

You may have the children use their puppets to accompany a retelling of the story, or allow them to be used as the students play together.


There is an animated adaptation of Pinocchio available from Walt Disney. The film is approximately 85 minutes long. It should not be used in place of reading the story but selections from it may be enjoyable for the students to see.





First Grade - Literature - Thumbelina


Identify elements of a fairy tale.

Sequence the events in Thumbelina's life.

Coordinate physical actions with events in the story.


Copy of the story Thumbelina

Walnut shell half


Blackline of song "Thumbelina"(1)

Suggested Books

Andersen, Hans Christian. Thumbelina. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1961.

Beautiful illustrations by Adrienne Adams

Andersen, Hans Christian. Thumbelina. New York: The Dial Press, 1979.

Illustrations by Susan Jeffers

Andersen, Hans Christian. Michael Hague's Favourite Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales. New York: Holt, Rhinehart and Winston, 1981.

Ehrlich, Amy. The Random House Book of Fairy Tales. New York: Random House, 1985.

Background for the Teacher

Thumbelina was published in 1835. It is one of the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen's most famous stories. The children may be interested to know that he is also the author of The Ugly Duckling and The Little Mermaid.


Show the children a seed and tell them that in the story you are about to read, a woman plants a seed and it grows into a flower with a beautiful girl inside. Ask if they think that could really happen. Remind them of the magical element of fairy tales.

Next, show the walnut shell half and explain that the girl is so tiny that she uses this for her bed. Explain that she never grows any larger during her entire life.

Read the story. Tell the children to try to imagine Thumbelina's tiny size as she goes through her many adventures. Point out that in this story, the animals are able to talk (another fairy tale element).

After reading the story ask the students to tell about Thumbelina. See if they can recall an instance when Thumbelina was very kind. When was she afraid? When was she happy? Are there other feelings that they can identify?

To sequence the events in Thumbelina's life use either a time line or have the children learn the song Thumbelina (included). The students can act out the events in her life (1)


First Grade - Literature - Thumbelina

springing up from a seed -- imitate a seed germinating , (2) being carried off by a toad -- hopping, (3) meeting a mouse -- shake hands, make mouse ears, whiskers, (4) meeting a mole --

shake hands, squint eyes to see in darkness, (5) being carried off by bird -- hold out arms like wings to fly, (6) meeting the prince -- shake hands and curtsy or bow (7) marrying the prince -- pretend to walk down the aisle arm in arm.

Consider using one of the unit fairy tale activities with this story. No bigger than my

thumb or It's not easy being BIG/small would both lend themselves to this story. Be sure to check for the elements of a fairy tale with this story and if possible, have the children illustrate one of the activities they do.


First Grade - Literature - Issun Boshi


Identify the elements of a fairy tale.

Discuss the traits of Issun Boshi.

Name the characters in the story.


Copy of the story Issun Boshi


Pictures of a kimono, cherry blossoms

Suggested Books

French, Fiona. Little Inchkin. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 1967.

Haviland, Virginia. Favorite Fairy Tales Told in Japan. New York: Beech Tree, 1967.

Sugimoto, Chiyuno. Picture Tales from the Japanese. New York: Lippincott Co., 1928.

What Your Second Grader Needs to Know - E.D. Hirsch, Jr., pp.36-38


Tell the students the name Issun Boshi. Explain that it is a Japanese name that means "One-Inch Fellow" and is the name of the main character of this story. Show them how large an inch is and ask them to recall the names of other characters who were so small.

Have the children locate Japan on the map and explain that many people who live there travel by boat. Show the children chopsticks and explain that they are used in the same way that we use a fork and spoon; however, in the story, Issun Boshi will use one as a paddle for his rice bowl boat as he sets off from home. Show the children pictures of a kimono and of cherry blossoms. You may wish to tell them that Baltimore has a sister city (cities exchange cultural artifacts and ideas) in Japan named Kawasaki, and the cherry trees in Washington, D.C. are a gift from Japan. The children may have also seen the pagoda that stands in Patterson Park.

Remind the students that in Tom Thumb and Thumbelina there were parents who wanted a child more than anything. The same is true about the story Issun Boshi. Tell the students to listen to his adventures while you read the story.

After reading the story ask the children to recall the characters in the story. List them on the board as the children name them. Help the children to see that while the parents are characters in the story they are not main characters as Issun Boshi is. Can they think of a scary character like the Oni that they have read about in another story? Does the Oni remind them of the giant/ogre in Jack and the Beanstalk?

Ask the children about the magic that happens in the story. The hammer makes wishes come true just as a fairy godmother does in some other stories. Who are some other characters who are helped by a fairy godmother?

Have the children tell their favorite parts of the story. Ask them to tell how Issun Boshi acted at that time. Was he brave, courageous, wise, foolish, careful, careless, etc.? Accept all responses the students can justify.

Be sure to check for the elements of fairy tales. Add this story to your chart if you are keeping one.


First Grade - Literature - Tom Thumb


Sequence Tom's adventure in the story.

Identify fairy tale elements in the story.


Copy of the story Tom Thumb

Pictures of mouse hole, snail shell, hay, cow, wolf, Tom Thumb

Suggested book

Carle, Eric. Eric Carle's Treasury of Classic Stories for Children. New York: Scholastic, 1988.

Information on the Authors

Quackenbush, Robert. Once Upon a Time! A Story of the Brothers Grimm. Englewood Cliffs, Prentice-Hall,1985.

The story of the Brothers Grimm.


Tell the students that Tom Thumb is a tale from the Brothers Grimm that was written many years ago. Wilhelm (1789-1859) and Jakob (1785-1863) collected folk and fairy tales from people who lived near their home in Germany. You may also want to mention some of the other stories gathered by these men, such as Snow White, Red-Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, etc.

Check for the presence of the elements of a fairy tale as you read this story. After you have read the story have the children insert the typical fairy tale opening line and closing line to see if it changes the story.

Ask the children to tell how many times Tom tricks someone (three times -- The men at the beginning, the thieves, and the wolf ). Ask: Does he trick good characters or characters who are up to no good? Can the children think of another story where one character tricks another? Can they recall another story where someone is saved from inside a wolf?

Mix up the pictures of the mouse hole, snail shell, hay, cow and wolf so that they are not in sequential order. Display them and ask a student to come up and select the picture that shows where Tom hid when he escaped from the men who gave his father gold. After the student has selected the mouse hole give the student the picture of Tom to hold inside the mouse hole. Next ask another student to come up and select the place where Tom slept the first night away from home. Have that child stand next to the first and move Tom to that location. Do the same for the hay where he slept after tricking the thieves, the cow in whose stomach Tom ended up and finally the wolf from which he is rescued by his father. After all the pictures are in line ask a child or children to come up and retell the story.

Ask the children if they think that there is a lesson to this story or has some message been delivered. Accept all reasonable responses; no doubt some of the students will identify that a family is worth more than gold, and that there is no better place in the world than home.

1. Meish Goldish, 28 Folk and Fairy Tale Poems and Songs. (New York: Scholastic Inc., 1995.)