Fourth Grade - Literature - Overview - February

Sayings and Phrases
Four sayings are included this month, Beauty is only skin deep, The bigger they are, the harder they fall, Bull in a china shop, and Seeing is believing. The sayings may be introduced in any order, with the provision that the Seeing is believing lesson is used after the tasks on the Middle Ages.
Students both create a booklet and write a letter in these lessons. In Beauty is only skin deep, they relate the saying to literary characters they have met before.

Poems
"Afternoon on a Hill" by Edna St. Vincent Millay and "Things" by Eloise Greenfield are the two poems introduced this month. In these lessons, students examine poetic license and participate in the presentation of a poem. The order of use of these poems does not matter.

Stories
The study of King Arthur is continued this month and students are provided a brief selection, "The Sword Excalibur and the Lady of the Lake," for independent reading. The accompanying activity may be used equally well by a group or an individual.

Fourth Grade - Literature - Sayings and Phrases - Beauty is Only Skin Deep

Objectives
Explain the meaning of the saying Beauty is only skin deep.
Relate the saying to Pretty is as pretty does/Handsome is as handsome does and Don't judge a book by its cover.
Identify literary characters that relate to each saying.

Materials
Copy of the sayings, Beauty is only skin deep, Pretty is as pretty does/Handsome is as handsome does and Don't judge a book by its cover on sentence strips

Suggested Books
Hirsch, E. D., Jr., ed. What Your Fourth Grader Needs to Know. New York: Dell, 1992.
Teacher Reference
Hirsch, Jr., E. D., Joseph F. Kett, James Trefil. The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1993.
Hirsch, Jr., E. D., ed. A First Dictionary of Cultural Literacy: What Our Children Need to Know. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1989.
Spears, Richard A. NTC's Super-Mini American Idioms Dictionary. Lincolnwood, IL: NTC Publishing Group, 1996.

Teacher Background
The possible responses that are included in this lesson are taken from stories introduced in Kindergarten and Grades 1, 2, and 3. There are certainly many other stories that would be appropriate for the exercise. These are intended to serve as a springboard. A book list is included at the end of the lesson.

Procedure
Display the following sayings side by side on the board: Beauty is only skin deep, Pretty is as pretty does/Handsome is as handsome does, Don't judge a book by its cover. Ask students to think about what the three sayings have in common. (Answers may vary, but should indicate something about superficial appearances.) Ask for the meaning of each.
Assign partners and ask students to think of literary characters to match with each. Allow several minutes for the students to work. Possible responses follow:

Beauty is only skin deep
The queen in "Snow White" (Mirror, mirror...)
Manyara (the unkind sister) in "Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters"
The sisters in "The Rough-Face Girl"

Pretty is as pretty does/ Handsome is as handsome does
(good character is proved more through deeds than through good looks)
Snow White
Beauty in "Beauty and the Beast"
Nyasha (the kind sister) in "Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters"
The Rough-Face Girl
Charlotte (the spider) in "Charlotte's Web"
 

Fourth Grade - Literature - Sayings and Phrases - Beauty is Only Skin Deep

Don't judge a book by its cover (you can't judge inner character by outward appearances)
Beast in "Beauty and the Beast"
The Rough-Face Girl
The Ugly Duckling
The king (hungry boy, old woman, snake) in "Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters"
Charlotte (the spider) in "Charlotte's Web"
The fish in "The Fisherman and His Wife"
The frog in "The Frog Prince"

After students have completed the assignment, ask them to share their responses. Write the characters' names under the appropriate saying (s). Discuss any controversial choices.
Remind students that people cannot choose their faces, but they can choose the way that they behave. A beautiful person might be kind and generous, but a less attractive person might be that way also. The intellectual, spiritual and emotional qualities of a person are much more important than appearance alone. Remind the students of the message of the Elma Stuckey poem "Humanity" -- our behavior and character matter more than the way we look.

Stories Referenced in Lesson
Andersen, Hans Christian. The Ugly Duckling. New York: Greenwillow, 1985.
Ehrlich, Amy, adapted by. The Random House Book of Fairy Tales. New York: Random House, 1985.
Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1972.
________. The Fisherman and His Wife. Chicago: Follett, 1969.
________. The Frog Prince. Retold by Edith Tarcov. New York: Four Winds Press, 1974.
Martin, Rafe. The Rough-Face Girl. New York: Putnam, 1992.
Mayer, Marianne, retold by. Beauty and the Beast. New York: Four Winds, 1978.
Steptoe, John. Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters. New York: Scholastic, 1987.
White, E. B. Charlotte's Web. New York: HarperCollins, 1952.

Fourth Grade - Literature - Sayings and Phrases - The Bigger They Are, The Harder They Fall

Objectives
Explain the meaning of the saying The bigger they are, the harder they fall.
Relate the word "bigger" to power and success.

Materials
Copy of the saying, The bigger they are, the harder they fall, on sentence strip or chart paper

Suggested Books
Hirsch, E. D., Jr., ed. What Your Fourth Grader Needs to Know. New York: Dell, 1992.
Teacher Reference
Hirsch, Jr., E. D., Joseph F. Kett, James Trefil. The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1993.
Hirsch, Jr., E. D., ed. A First Dictionary of Cultural Literacy: What Our Children Need to Know. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1989.
Morris, William and Mary. Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins. New York: Harper & Row, 1977, 1988.
Pickering, David, compiled by. Cassell Dictionary of Proverbs. London: Cassell, 1997.

Procedure
Tell the students to close their eyes and imagine that they have been magically transported to the time when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Tell them to imagine that a Tyrannosaurus Rex is walking by them. Ask them to describe what it feels like as the dinosaur walks by. (Students may comment on their emotions -- fear, wonder, terror -- however, encourage them to describe the physical sensations: the ground trembling, the sound of trees and plants being crushed and the swipe of its tail against the vegetation, the smell associated with a carnivorous creature, etc.)
Ask the students to describe how they knew that something big was passing by. Ask: How would you know a really large creature was coming if you couldn't see it and couldn't associate its roar? (Both responses should indicate that the size caused earth tremors; it could be felt.)
Now ask the students to describe the sound that might be heard if the dinosaur was wounded or killed and fell to the ground (a loud crash with a ground tremor resulting). Ask a volunteer to describe what happens when big things fall. (Accept any reasonable statement.)
Display and read the saying The bigger they are, the harder they fall. Ask the students if they think that it is a reasonable statement based on the prior discussion. Be sure to emphasize that "bigger" in the discussion referred to both size and weight. Ask the students if they would agree that something of a larger size and weight makes a more impressive crash when it falls than something else that is smaller or lighter. Ask the students to suggest other creatures, objects, etc. that would fit into the "bigger" category, making sure that size and weight are both components. Note these suggestions on the board. (Possible responses might be an elephant or rhinoceros; a huge, tall tree; the Empire State Building or the Washington Monument; Paul Bunyan; the giant in "Jack and the Beanstalk;" the Cyclops in Greek mythology)
After allowing several minutes for responses, tell the students that "bigger" can have another meaning as well and invite students to offer definitions. Help students to see that "bigger" can mean more powerful or successful or influential. Students may be able to relate this to sports figures or movie stars. (An actor or actress may be a "big" star without size or weight being an issue.) Explain that someone with a large amount of money can be more influential than someone who has very little or none.
Read the saying, The bigger they are, the harder they fall, again. Ask the students to think about what this saying means when it refers to powerful or successful people. Have the students take a minute to think and then share their thoughts with a classmate seated nearby. After several minutes, invite students to share their thoughts. Help the students to see that the "fall" can be financial ruin, loss of popularity, being replaced by another. If students have difficulty with this you might ask them to consider how different it would be for a new player to be cut from a basketball team than it would be for Michael Jordan or some other sports figure well known to the public.
End the lesson by asking students to either explain the saying or restate it. Challenge them to explain the saying as it relates to both size and power. Point out to the students that people sometimes think that they are more powerful or more influential than they really are and when they find out that they are not, have a very difficult time coping.

Fourth Grade - Literature - Sayings and Phrases - Bull in a China Shop

Objectives
Explain the meaning of the phrase.
Relate the phrase to other animal-inspired phrases.
Create a booklet of animal-inspired phrases and illustrations.

Materials
Copy of the phrase, Bull in a china shop, on sentence strip or chart paper
List of animal-inspired phrases (attached)
Drawing paper (at least 8 pieces per group), construction paper (2 same color pieces per group)
Crayons, markers
Stapler for attaching pages in the booklet

Suggested Books
Hirsch, E. D., Jr., ed. What Your Fourth Grader Needs to Know. New York: Dell, 1992.
Teacher Reference
Hirsch, Jr., E. D., ed. A First Dictionary of Cultural Literacy: What Our Children Need to Know. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1989.
Room, Adrian, revised by. Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. New York: HarperCollins, 1959, 1995.
Spears, Richard A. NTC's Super-Mini American Idioms Dictionary. Lincolnwood, IL: NTC Publishing Group, 1996.

Teacher Note
This lesson contains a four-member, cooperative group activity that results in the production of a booklet. The activity does not include a rubric, but it lends itself to the development of one. If you wish to make one with the students list on the board all the components, including the recorder's sheet of phrases and their meanings, and the booklet (at least 8 pages, each containing a phrase and an illustration; a front cover with title and group members' names and a back cover). Point out to the students that all the parts of the booklet must be present and all the phrases used should be spelled correctly. Also collect the recorders' sheets containing the meanings of the sayings.

Procedure
Ask students if they have ever heard someone referred to as a "snake" or a "rat"? If they have ask volunteers to give the context. If they have not, explain that these are derogatory terms used when referring to someone who is sneaky (snake) and to someone who tells on another person in order to not get in trouble him or herself (rat).
Tell the students that animal names and qualities are often used when referring to people. Ask students to volunteer any they might know. They may have heard someone called an "ape" or a "dog" or they may have heard "peacock" or "ugly duckling" used.
Display the phrase Bull in a china shop. Ask a volunteer to read the phrase and give its meaning. (Be sure that students are clear about the definition of china.) Ask students to visualize the damage a bull in a china shop could bring about, then ask them if they have ever met someone who was very clumsy or didn't pay attention to where he or she was going and caused things to be broken. Ask them to visualize the clumsy person like a bull. Be sure to point out that a person who handles a situation badly is also called a bull in a china shop.
Ask students if they can think of a character from books, television or movies who could be described this way. Ask if someone has ever told them to settle down and not crash around like a bull in a china shop. Tell them that someone who always "puts his or her foot in his or her mouth" could be described as a bull in a china shop, too. Suggest that students think of the quality or the behavior of the animal that is being portrayed in the saying.
Distribute the list of phrases. Then divide the class into groups of four. Assign a reader, a recorder, a publisher and a materials manager for each group. Tell the students that they are going to create a booklet of animal inspired phrases. The illustrations should show people behaving in ways that match the phrases. For example, "a fish out of water" would not be comfortable, just as a person who forgot to wear a costume to a costume party might not feel comfortable either. After you broke your brother's favorite toy, he might be "mad as a hornet."
Tell the students that the reader will first read all the phrases to the group, then he or she will go back and read each one. After a phrase is read, all group members should decide on the meaning and the recorder should write it down. Tell the students that if they are unsure of a particular phrase they should try to figure it out based on what they know about the animal mentioned. The group should also think about how a person could be illustrated in the situation. (Someone who got 100% on a test might be "proud as a peacock.") After the group has discussed all the phrases, the materials manager should bring the supplies (paper, crayons, markers) back to the group. Remind students that the materials manager should supervise clean-up as well. (Point out that all members participate in the actual clean-up.) All members of the group will participate in illustrating the phrases and each group is required to complete at least 8. If there is time, a group may complete more. The publisher should make sure that students in the group have decided on the 8 phases they wish to illustrate and that no two students in the same group are illustrating the same phrase. Each phrase should be written on the page with its illustration. The publisher should collect the pages and organize the order of the booklet when the group has completed their work. Finally, the publisher should attach a front cover, with the names of all group members and the title "People can be Beasts" or "There's an Animal in Each one of Us" (or any title of your choosing), and a back cover, securing everything with staples.
Answer any questions the students may have before they begin, then start them on their tasks and circulate among the groups, offering support and compliments.
When students have completed their booklets, place them where they are accessible to the entire class. Take a few minutes to discuss the list of phrases with the class. Have groups share how they envisioned people matching the phrases. Ask: Who did you show "locking horns"? Who was "as hungry as a bear"? Etc.

Fourth Grade - Literature - Sayings and Phrases - Seeing is Believing

Note: This lesson should be completed after lessons on life in the Middle Ages.

Objectives
Explain the meaning of the saying Seeing is believing.
Identify modern household items that people from the Middle Ages would have needed to see in order to believe.
Write a letter to a child from the Middle Ages, telling about three modern items and their uses.

Materials
Copy of the saying, Seeing is believing, on sentence strip or chart paper

Suggested Books
Hirsch, E. D., Jr., ed. What Your Fourth Grader Needs to Know. New York: Dell, 1992.
Teacher Reference
Hirsch, Jr., E. D., Joseph F. Kett, James Trefil. The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1993.
Hirsch, Jr., E. D., ed. A First Dictionary of Cultural Literacy: What Our Children Need to Know. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1989.
Pickering, David, compiled by. Cassell Dictionary of Proverbs. London: Cassell, 1997.

Teacher Background
This lesson begins with a discussion of the saying Seeing is believing, then students work together in groups determining which present-day household items would have seemed unbelievable to someone living in the Middle Ages. Students are then asked to work independently and write a letter to a child from the Middle Ages, identifying three modern items and their uses. Students may do the writing exercise for homework, or if time does not permit, the saying can be discussed without including the group work and independent writing.

Procedure
Ask students to think about how they would respond if a friend told them that he or she had a dragon for a pet. Allow several students to respond then note that usually the first response would be total disbelief, and if the friend persisted, the next response would be "Show me!"
Point out to the students that in order to believe particular things are true, we require proof. The most obvious proof is the item itself. Ask students if they've ever heard someone say, "I'll believe it when I see it." Have students recall the time and circumstances related to the statement.
Next display the saying Seeing is believing. Tell the students that this is a quick way to say "I'll believe it when I see it." For example, a mother might say, "Seeing is believing" when her child says that a usually messy bedroom is suddenly clean, or a plate of hated vegetables have been eaten. Point out that people sometimes say this when they want to be sarcastic.
Ask for volunteers to name some things (or events) that they would need to see in order to believe. List these on the board, telling the students that when we see something, rather than just hear about it, it becomes believable. Students may have heard barkers for side shows who tell of unbelievable attractions within a tent, then charge the public to see the unbelievable sight.
Remind students that many items that are everyday to us now, were unbelievable some time before. Explain that not so long ago, people had never heard of (or seen) automobiles, airplanes, refrigerators and electric lights. Tell them to think back to the Middle Ages and
consider how many of our everyday things would seem unbelievable to people living then.
Put the students in groups of four. Challenge them to list all the things within a
modern house that would have seemed unbelievable to someone living in the Middle Ages. Tell the students to consider the building itself as well as everything included within. Have the students in each group take turns writing their ideas on one sheet of paper that is passed around. Remind the students that each person should share his or her idea aloud with group members as the response is written.
After allowing several minutes for this activity, ask the groups to share their responses. Write them on the board, grouping items in like categories, if possible. Be sure that students have considered electricity, central heating (and air-conditioning), telephones, furniture (especially sofas), stoves, and refrigerators. Television, radios, VCRs, tapes and CDS should be included as well. Congratulate those students who remembered that forks did not exist during the Middle Ages.
Write the names "Peter" and "Mary" on the board. Tell the students that these are the names of two children who lived during the Middle Ages. Have the students write a letter to one of them telling about three modern items that would have seemed unbelievable to someone living in the Middle Ages. The students should describe and explain the use of each item. Encourage students to indicate in their letters that Peter and Mary would have a difficult time believing that these items exist.
After students have completed their letters, have several students read theirs to the class. Ask the students who are listening to check to see if the reader has written a letter addressed to either Peter or Mary, described three modern items, and explained the uses of all three. Congratulate the students on their work and take this opportunity to remind the students of the importance of meeting all the requirements of an assignment.
 
 
 
PHRASE
MEANING
as strong as an ox  
like a fish out of water  
like a sitting duck  
as quiet as a mouse  
as slippery as an eel  
as wise as an owl  
big frog in a small pond  
as stubborn as a mule  
as smart as a fox  
as weak as a kitten  
as proud as a peacock  
as hungry as a bear  
lock horns  
mad as a hornet  
rule the roost  
birds of a feather flock together  
the early bird catches the worm  
as busy as a bee  
play possum  

Fourth Grade - Literature - Poetry - Afternoon on a Hill

Objectives
Identify the mood of the poem.
Describe what is happening in the poem.
Participate in a presentation of the poem.

Materials
Copy of the poem, "afternoon on a Hill," on chart paper or transparency

Suggested Books
Hirsch, E. D., Jr., ed. What Your Fourth Grader Needs to Know. New York: Dell, 1992.
The poem, "afternoon on a Hill," is found on page 53.

Teacher Background
Edna St. Vincent Millay was born in Rockland, Maine on February 22, 1892. Growing up in Maine, she was greatly influenced by the coast and the countryside. Both are referenced frequently in her poems.
She spent her life as a poet and dramatist and died in Austerlitz, New York on October 19, 1950.

Procedure
Display the poem, "afternoon on a Hill," and read the title and the author's name. Tell the students to read the poem silently to themselves. Allow several minutes for them to do this.
Invite a volunteer to explain what is happening in the poem. Remind the students that the poet is a woman and ask them if they think the speaker should be male or female. Ask them to explain the reasons for their choice. (Accept all reasonable responses. Point out that boys might pick flowers as well as girls.)
Ask the students to identify the mood of the poem. Ask: Is this a serious poem? a sad poem? a silly poem? (Ask students to justify their responses.) Have them note the end punctuation of the first and last lines. Be sure that they understand that an exclamation point is used to express strong emotion. Note that the poet uses the word gladdest in the first line. Tell students that gladdest means more glad than anyone (or anything) else.
If students have not already noticed, point out the use of the word "will." Ask the students to speculate why the poet says AI will be..., I will touch..., I will look..., I will mark..." (Students should recognize that "will" indicates future. The poet may possibly be talking about an anticipated spring or summer, while trapped in the cold of winter.)
Be certain that the students understand the content of the poem by asking how it is possible for the speaker to touch a hundred flowers (sweep over the view of them with her eyes, or her hand). Ask how the speaker "marks which light must be mine" (identifies or recognizes it).
Next, ask a volunteer to read the first stanza in the tone in which they believe the poem is intended to be delivered. Then ask volunteers to read stanzas two and three. Tell the class to silently read the poem again. Ask them to think of hand and body movements they might use to accompany the recitation of the poem. Demonstrate that each time AI" is spoken, it could be emphasized by pointing to oneself. Point out that facial expression is important to the delivery also.
Divide the class into teams of four. Tell the students that they are to decide how to present the poem to the rest of the class. Their presentation must include recitation and accompanying hand and body movements. They may all recite the poem together, or they may choose to have one person speak while the others accompany that person with movements that emphasize the content. Remind the students that it is to be a finished presentation, so they should coordinate their movements with each other. Each group should also announce the title of the
poem and the author's name (pronounced correctly) at the beginning of the recitation. Do not require students to memorize the poem, but tell them that frequent repetition may make it easy for them to do this.
After each recitation, allow the other class members to offer compliments and constructive criticism.

Afternoon on a Hill

I will be the gladdest thing
Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
And not pick one.

I will look at cliffs and clouds
With quiet eyes,
Watch the wind blow down the grass,
And the grass rise.

And when lights begin to show
Up from the town,
I will mark which must be mine,
And then start down!

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Fourth Grade - Literature - Poetry - Things

Objectives
Identify reasons why people save things.
Differentiate between short-term and long-lasting.
Analyze techniques used by the poet -- poetic license, repetition, rhyme.

Materials
Copy of the poem, "Things," on chart paper or transparency

Suggested Books
Greenfield, Eloise. Honey, I Love and Other Love Poems. New York: Harper and Row, 1978.
"Things" and fourteen other Greenfield poems are included.
Hirsch, E. D., Jr., ed. What Your Fourth Grader Needs to Know. New York: Dell, 1992.

Teacher Background
Students should be familiar with Greenfield's work, having read other selections from Honey, I Love and Other Love Poems in First Grade ("Rope Rhyme"), in Second Grade ("Harriet Tubman"), and in Third Grade ("By Myself").

Procedure
Ask students to think about the things that people save. Ask a few volunteers to name the things that they, or someone they know, saves. Ask: Why do you (or another) save that particular thing? (Accept reasonable responses. Help the students to recognize that sometimes people save things because they like those things; sometimes they save things because they believe the items will increase in value; and sometimes people save things because they have a sentimental significance.)
Ask students if someone (e.g. parent, grandparent, or otherwise important adult) has ever said that they will save a particular thing the student has done just because it was made or written by the student. Explain that it becomes special to the adult because it was made by a special person.
Next, ask the students if there is anything they have ever made or written that they have saved because they thought it was special. Point out that it might have required a lot of work, or it might be the best out of a series of attempts.
Display the poem. Read the title and the poet's name aloud and then ask the students to read it to themselves.

After allowing time for the students' independent reading, say the poem aloud. Ask the students if they think the title, "Things," is appropriate for the poem. (Answers will vary.)
Ask the students to differentiate between the three things mentioned in the poem. Emphasize that while all three fit the category of "things," there are some differences. The candy is purchased. It is intended to be eaten and so it is. The enjoyment gained from it doesn't last. The sandhouse is made by hand. There is enjoyment that comes from using the sand to create something, but the materials used (sand) do not permit it to be permanent. The third thing -- the poem -- is made by hand and permanent. It gave enjoyment to the poet while it was being made and continues to give enjoyment to its readers. It obviously was special to the speaker because the last lines say "still got it, still got it."
Invite a student to read the poem aloud. Ask: Was the poem easy to read or difficult? What did the poet do to make it an easy poem to read? (took out grammatical conventions, used simple language, catchy rhythm) How old do you think the speaker is supposed to be? (Answers may vary. Be sure that students identify the activities as usually being done by children.) Ask the students to speculate why Greenfield chose to repeat the last two lines in each stanza. Ask: What effect does this have? Tell the students to think about when people repeat words (to make sure that they are heard by others, to emphasize what the words say, to remind themselves of the words). Ask: Why would the speaker repeat the words? (Answers will vary.)
Ask the students to identify the rhyming words in the poem (store, more, shore, floor). Point out that because Greenfield rhymes "store" and Amore" and Ashore" and Amore," we almost expect her to rhyme Amore" with "floor." She surprises us with the lines "Still got it, Still got it."
Ask: How does the final stanza change the mood of the poem?
In closing, ask the students if the recitation of the poem reminds them of anything. Ask: Can you imagine any activity accompanying this rhythm? (jumping rope) Does the rhythm make it easier or more difficult to remember the words in the poem? Ask the students to recall other jump rope rhymes.

Fourth Grade - Literature - Stories - King Arthur

Objective
Respond to questions about "The Sword Excalibur and the Lady of the Lake."

Materials (See Teacher Note)
For each student
Copy of the story "The Sword Excalibur and the Lady of the Lake" (attached)
For each cooperative group
Copy of "Excalibur and the Lady of the Lake" worksheet (attached)

Teacher Background
In January, students began their study of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Hopefully, by this month they are familiar with Camelot (Arthur's kingdom), Merlin, Guinevere, Sir Lancelot (Launcelot), Sir Ector, Sir Kay, etc. If you have not yet begun this unit of study, you may still use this lesson if you preface it by reading to the students "How Arthur Became King: The Sword in the Stone," on pp. 56-58 of What Your Fourth Grader Needs to Know.

Teacher Note
The activity in this lesson can be used in a number of ways. It can be used as a cooperative group activity (1 worksheet per group, story copies for individuals), or an individual classroom or homework activity (1 worksheet and 1 story copy per student). Regardless of the way the activity is used, be sure to discuss the responses in class. Introduce foreshadowing at this time as well.
The story and the questions may both be made into transparencies or transferred to chart paper if you are unable to make copies for the entire class.

Procedure
Direct the students to complete this assignment in cooperative groups, with partners, or individually for class- or homework. Instruct the students to read the selection "The Sword Excalibur and the Lady of the Lake" before answering the questions.
Be sure that all students realize that a scabbard is the sheath or close-fitting case that holds the sword. Briefly discuss the practical need for such a thing.
Have the students complete the assignment and then bring the class back together as a group. Discuss the questions with the students and explain the technique of foreshadowing. Explain that an author often gives the reader a sign of something that will happen later in the story. Point out that Merlin's warning about the scabbard, the request of the Lady of the Lake that a gift be given her when she asks for it, and the reference to Merlin's inability to know his own future let us know that there is trouble ahead.
You may wish to read "Merlin and the Lady of the Lake" on pp. 61 and 62 of What Your Fourth Grader Needs to Know to provide the answer to what happens to Merlin.

Fourth Grade - Literature - Stories - King Arthur
 

1. Merlin could tell everyone's future, except his own... even though you can't tell the future, what do you predict will happen to Arthur and Merlin?
 

2. What led you to make those predictions?
 

3. How do you think Arthur felt when Merlin called him a fool? What do you think he said to Merlin?
 

4. How would the story be different if the hand that jutted up from the lake was wrinkled and twisted and ugly, and the arm was clothed in bloodstained cloth? Describe the sword and scabbard that might accompany such a horrible sight.
 

5. What do you think about the Lady of the Lake? Does she seem to care for Arthur? Why?
 

6. Would knowing that Sir Lancelot, who would fight Arthur in later years, was raised by the Lady of the Lake, affect the way you feel about the behavior of the Lady of the Lake in this story? Why?

Fourth Grade - Literature -February

Bibliography

Greenfield, Eloise. Honey, I Love and Other Love Poems. New York: Harper and Row, 1978. (0-690-013845-3)
Hirsch, E. D., Jr., ed. What Your Fourth Grader Needs to Know. New York: Dell, 1992.  (0-385-31260-1)

Teacher Reference
Hirsch, Jr., E. D., Joseph F. Kett, James Trefil. The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1993. (0-395-65597-8)
Hirsch, Jr., E. D., ed. A First Dictionary of Cultural Literacy: What Our Children Need to Know. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1989. (0-395-59901-6)
Morris, William and Mary. Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins. New York: Harper & Row, 1977, 1988. (0-06-015862-X)
Pickering, David, compiled by. Cassell Dictionary of Proverbs. London: Cassell, 1997. (0-304-34911-9)
Room, Adrian, revised by. Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. New York: HarperCollins, 1959, 1995. (0-06-270133-9)
Spears, Richard A. NTC's Super-Mini American Idioms Dictionary. Lincolnwood, IL: NTC Publishing Group, 1996. (0-8442-0916-3)

Stories Referenced in Beauty is Only Skin Deep
Andersen, Hans Christian. The Ugly Duckling. New York: Greenwillow, 1985.
Ehrlich, Amy, adapted by. The Random House Book of Fairy Tales. New York: Random House, 1985.
Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1972. (374-46868)
________. The Fisherman and His Wife. Chicago: Follett, 1969.
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